As with the 1979 hostage crisis, how Britain and the rest of the civilized world respond in the early days of the crisis will determine how long it lasts. Britain has already demanded the safe and immediate return of its personnel; they will have to make clear that its foreign policy will not be held hostage to the mullahs. ...The Iranian public's opinion of the US has actually improved since 9/11. It is considerably more favorable than that of our Saudi Arabians or Jordanians, residents of supposed allies. This isn't surprising, given that the US has removed Iran's primary antagonist in the region, spread Shia influence westward (and erstwhile helped it expand eastward in the late nineties through support for Massoud and by knocking out the Sunni Taliban), eliminating the buffer zone that rendered any tactical moves on control of the Persian Gulf imprudent, and, in its stumbling in Iraq, the US has revealed itself to be less capable than the mullahs believed it to be after Desert Storm.
It is worth recalling, however, that Iran was at its most diplomatically pliant after the United States sank much of Tehran's navy after Iran tried to disrupt oil traffic in the Persian Gulf in the late 1980s. Regimes that resort to force the way Iran does tend to be respecters of it.
Like most popular prognosticators, the op/ed board makes no mention of the obvious fact that the war in Iraq setup this capture of British sailors. Bogged down in Iraq and on tenuous terms with most of the other countries trying to dissuade Iran's nuclear ambitions, the US looks relatively feeble to an Iranian president who's reportedly not winning many popularity contests at home. Nabbing a few British seaman may even lead to pressure on the US to release the Iranians captured by the US in Iraq.
Nor does it make note (though the evidence comes from a poll the paper just released) of how military action against Iran might have been an easy sell a few years back, but that the Iraq War the WSJ op/ed so fanatically supported has seen the preemptive imperative politically untenable.
A new WSJ/NBC poll shows that only 40% of Americans say the US should strike at "groups or countries that are preparing to commit terrorist acts on the United States" if we have evidence of an impending attack. Thirty-nine percent say we shouldn't respond until they've actually carried out the attack. In September '02, the shares were 67% and 22%, respectively.
The ideological board is reckless. The positions they supported cost the GOP in the November midterms. They advocate open borders and all the negative externalities it entails. Now they want us to pick an unnecessary fight with a country four times the size of Iraq and home to more than twice as many people as the next-door neighbor we're so unsuccessfully occupying. Gigot and company are dangerous. Don't believe me? Try this:
It is also far from certain that Western military strikes against Revolutionary Guards would move the Iranian people to rally to their side: Iranians know only too well what their self-anointed leaders are capable of.No doubt they'd welcome us as liberators.