Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Friday, 23 March 2007

Her Majesty's Sailors Captured at Gunpoint by Iran

To the battle honours of HMS Cornwall: Barfleur (1692), Falkland Islands (1914), Dardanelles (1915); the Japanese Indian Ocean Raid of 1942, in which the 5th Cornwall was sunk, we now add this naked hostility by the Iranians to the long history of this gallant ship.

Now, the Americans and British do not have a very good track record in dealing with Iran's glorious tradition of criminal hostage-taking. Iran is highly adept at perceiving Anglo-American weakness, from Jimmy Carter in 1979 to the current exploitation of the Iraq situation. In 2004, Iran detained eight British servicemen for three days after the men were forcibly escorted into Iranian territorial waters. While they were being held, the men were paraded blindfold and made to apologise on Iranian TV before their release was agreed. The same sort of thing can be expected here, whereupon the Iranians will play with the British for a few days, until it becomes too dangerous to play the game.

With George Bush in office, with the whole of the American 5th Fleet in the area, I don't think the Iranians would have chanced capturing 15 American sailors at gunpoint, not unless they have a particular fetish for Tomahawk guided missiles. Unless the Iraninans are forced to pay in some way for their belligerence, such antics will only continue in the years to come.

Update: Tory Heaven launches broadside worthy of the Iron Duke. That's what the Royal Navy needs: a ship commissioned HMS Iron Lady to go with HMS Iron Duke.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear. All military power is a deterrent. If you don't respond to aggressive acts of war such as this, it ceases to deter. So why bother with the expense of the deterrent at all? Oh yes, I remember, we're selling off the Navy and replacing it with a rowing boat called HMS Dumbledore with a large white flag (The White Ensign Series 2) at the stern. God help us all.


E J Hosdil said...

Hopefully, these brave men will soon be freed. If not, Iran shall pay a price.

acwo said...

I like your blog very much
keep it up!

Cato, author of said...

I could not agree more that the Iranians must be made to pay for this unprovoked outrage against Her Majesty's Armed forces, patrolling as they were quite lawfully in the territorial waters of Iraq where they are currently deployed. I suggest that HMG issue an immediate demand to the Iranians that our servicemen be released by Midnight tonight (GMT), otherwise we should enter Iranian territory to recover them. Whether or not they are released within that timescale, the dictatorship of Iran should be required to make a public apology for this unprovoked Act of War, and to pay reparations to Her Majesty's Government.

Anonymous said...

U seem positive these soldiers were in "Iraqi" waters. Are u sure they were not spies in Iranian waters?

Beaverbrook said...

There's no reason to believe otherwise, given media reports. And even if they were spies, they're our spies and God be with them.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

I expect Nelson is turning in his grave. I really miss the England which would have already called out the order to Beat to Quarters.

Lord Nelson said...

Horatio is here. And we shall beat to quarters!

Bearhunter said...

Got to love the empty rattle of jingoistic outrage amongst you. I take none of you have ever been in combat then, since you are so all fired-up keen to send "Our Boys" oiver their to bloody the Saracen's nose?

Scott said...

Hmm. Continuing to be antagonistic, I see. Happily you are very wrong in this, I believe.

Have you ever been in combat? And what justifies your supercilious, aloof, smug, snorting condescension?

Younghusband said...

A reminder to some that the Royal Navy was acting under United Nations Security Council auspices, hunting for smugglers and merits a bit more support worldwide than simply having the German foreign minister saying he supports the UK (which is lovely, of course).
I don't accept the "my country right or wrong" approach others appear to be taking either. That nonsense was invalidated in the UK after nearly 1 million were killed in the Great War, and echoes the philosophy of a Mussolini (Obey! Believe! Do!) and not an Englishman.
Strange that the British simply allowed them to take British subjects with nary a warning shot... Rather validates John Bolton's assertion that the seizure of the sailors was a “conscious decision by the Tehran Government...They were possibly picking on the British because they think the Europeans are the weak link in this.”

Bearhunter said...

Scott, yes I have and it wasn't pleasant. Nor was it pleasant for my father or my grandfather, who also saw combat. And if it's smug, aloof sneering condescension you're after, I'd suggest re-reading some of your own posts. Don't worry, I won't trouble you further. Clearly this is not a forum for the free expression of opinion. Kia ora.

Scott said...

Rather odd to declare this is no place for free expression, and then silence oneself by leaving: kind of makes a mockery of your claim, non?

Bearhunter said...

Very well then, although there seems to be no urge among the posters here to debate the merits of striking back at the Iranians. Instead, you all seem to sit comfortably in your preconceived notions about war, seemingly gleaned from some Boy's Own story, from where you urge others to do your work. (By the way, I served with UNIFIL in Lebanon, two shifts in the 80s.)

Scott said...

Well I haven't actually expressed any opinion on the matter, precisely because I am unsure quite what to make of it, and quite what I reckon is strategically wise. After all, it could well be that the mullahs would welcome a strike: one of the few possible or likely varieties, a light aerial bombing of military installations, would possibly be enough to rally the dissafected country back to them.

But at minimum I hope our government is being very stern behind the scenes.

And I don't believe your characterisation of the above comments is fair. Please don't even hint at chickenhawk stuff. The military is after all a citizen-controlled institution; it is designed to go and do things it is told to by people who won't actually take part in the fighting. Plus: even the US are now publically saying that the Brits should have fired on the Iranians when taken. So it's a mainstream position to take.

And Boy's Own stories are better than most muck on sale now.

Bearhunter said...

It's the phrases like "outrage" and "must be made to pay" from armchair generals that upsets me, Scott. I didn't say you personally had made such comments. As regards the taking of the ship, if it was in Iraqi waters then I am amazed they did not at least attempt to defend themselves when it became clear what was happening. If they did stray into Iranian waters then fair enough, I suppose. If they were taken for a reason, it will be becasue teh Iranians want to know how far they can push the envelope of tolerance. It's sabre-rattling in other words, much like some of the posters here are engaged in.

Younghusband said...

It does seem shameful for 15 British marines and sailors to be taken without even token resistance, especially after the second-in-command on the USS Underwood said "The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defence but also an obligation to self-defence. They had every right in my mind and every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?".
However, the article in today's Independent described them as "vastly outnumbered and out-gunned"
so until the Government decides to inform its people, we just have to guess.
What troubles me is how the Independent reported the crisis- just under a roaring headline about the raging debate over thelegalisation of cannabis. Not even reorting this decade's news, no wonder it's so lowly among broadsheets...

Anonymous said...

Sabre-rattling aside, there is little that can be done militarily at this point. Do we even know the location of the prisoners? If the UK blows a few Iranian ships out of the water, how long would it be before those boys were hanged by the lunatics? This bears no resemblance to the Falklands situation, where British territory was occupied by an invader. The Iranians are crazy, but not stupid. They know they're dealing with a weak leadership.

The time for the military to fire shots was the time of capture, but I suspect there was some trickery involved.

Perhaps it's time for an assassination or two?

At any rate, I suppose I shouldn't be commenting on this at all, never having experienced the ticket to free speech, i.e., combat.

I think Bearhunter is right though, all decisions and public discourse related to military matters should be left to the military. Doesn't everyone agree?


Scott said...

Haha, not at all! (Neither do you, from the tone of things).

Beaverbrook said...

Burton, you need to go easier on your quarrel and refrain from such irresistible temptations. It is unbecoming to utterly destroy your opponent with such merciless argument, with such reeking condescension. The wilted are in need of some encouragement.

Younghusband said...

Probably too late for this to have any value, but Gwynne Dyer's written a great article about this starting with how it was "Just as well that it was a British boarding team, then. The 15 British sailors and Marines who were captured and taken to Tehran for “questioning” last week are undoubtedly having an unpleasant time, but they are alive, and Britain is only involved in two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it had been one of Eriik Horner’s boarding teams, they would all be dead, and the United States and Iran would now be at war."
As he portrays the situation the British found themselves in, "eight sailors and seven Marines in two rubber boats, with personal weapons and no protection whatever, sitting about 30cm above the water, surrounded by six or seven Iranian attack boats with mounted machineguns. 'Defend yourself' by opening fire, and after a single long burst from half a dozen heavy machineguns there will be 14 dead young men and one dead young woman in two rapidly sinking inflatables, and your country will be at war. Seems a bit pointless, really."