Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2019-07-21 09:22

A commando team of Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized at gunpoint the UK-registered tanker Stena Impero in Omani or international waters in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July. It was then taken to the military port of Bandar Abbas, where it is currently being held under an admittedly tit for tat pretext.

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary for the next three days, told the media that he was 'very disappointed' and that the action was 'totally and utterly unacceptable'. The UK Government ruled out a military response but warned there would be 'serious consequences if the situation is not resolved'.

It may indeed be unacceptable, but apart from accepting it, it is difficult to see what else the UK Government can do to respond to the action. The current idea is to freeze Iranian assets in the UK. That method was tried before to no effect whatever and was lifted in 2016 as part of the shameful deal on Iran's nuclear programme.

We are told that the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose 'arrived ten minutes too late' – which was a blessing, because had it been around it might have had to do something forceful to defend the Stena Impero, something which might in turn have produced the dreaded 'escalation' that the UK is so desperate to avoid. It is desperate to avoid this because it has no credible military presence in the region at all.

We cannot help but recall the moment some years ago when the Revolutionary Guard scooped up some rather tearful Royal Navy personnel and forced them to participate in a propaganda video by threatening not to give them their iPods back (or something like that). Since then, nothing has been learned.

The EU, whose feeble sanctions against Syria the British were trying to enforce when they detained an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar earlier this month, is keeping its head down and talking of peace and love. This tells the Iranians all they need to know about the lack of backbone in the enforcement of the EU sanctions. What is the point of sanctions without enforcement?

Neither the UK nor the EU states have the military kit nor – most importantly – the will to enforce their sanctions. Once again it looks as though it is the USA which will have to do the heavy lifting and will have to take the criticism for their warmongering – they will certainly get no thanks.

In their wet pursuit of peace at any price Britain and the EU are forgetting the lessons of Europe in the 1930s: every little, convenient, comfortable, low-cost appeasement gives the dictatorship ever more success and ever more credibility. Every madcap Hitler provocation had paid off and by 1939 – and well beyond – a very large number of the German people regarded him and his thugs as being invincible soldiers on a divinely ordained mission.

Iran is batting in the big league of authoritarian horridness, also complete with a leadership personality cult and religious mission. If they don't have nuclear weapons at the moment they are very close to getting them (and have a pile of radioctive dirt to be getting along with). In that sense they are further down the road to using them than the German geezer ever managed.

The West may not have the will to obliterate this awful regime, but it should not allow the dictatorship even the smallest victory: the price of peace is eternal vigilance.

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