Just two days ago the Telegraph was describing Tony Blair’s response with words like “sensibly“. Looks like they’ve decided he’s had enough time of that…
Iran would not have kidnapped our Servicemen without having considered our rules of engagement, our diplomatic isolation and our likely military response, and made a rough calculation of how likely they were to get away with their piracy.
There was a time when British citizenship afforded a degree of protection from foreign harassment. When the half-mad King of Abyssinia interned two of our diplomats in 1868, we sent an expeditionary force of 13,000 British and Indian troops on a nine-month rescue mission. When Gordon was besieged at Khartoum in 1884, public opinion demanded a relief expedition, whose failure to arrive in time contributed in no small part to the downfall of the government.
During the Don Pacifico Affair in 1850, when Britain blockaded Piraeus in order to secure compensation for a Portuguese moneylender who had been born in Gibraltar, Palmerston assured his countrymen that “a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong”.
Not any more. Teheran is well aware that we have been taking on additional military responsibilities while running down our capacity. Struggling to meet our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are in little position to pick a new fight. Public opinion, too, has changed. Where our great-great-grandfathers clamoured for the rescue of Gordon, we have reacted to Iran’s provocation with a resigned shrug. Americans, in particular, cannot understand why we seem so indifferent to the fate of our own people.
That’s for sure.
It goes on to list various ways they could handle this without an attack (none of which exactly the first thing Palmerston might reach for), all of which look a bit unlikely given the previous post.
I miss Empire.
The comments on this turned me right off of wanting to quote any of it, but I’ll take it on to the end of this post anyway…