All The More Reason

Iran and the West
April 1, 2007, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Iran

Here’s an opinion piece by Victor Davis Hanson on the taking of the 15 British soldiers by Iran, and the current relative weakness of European military might.



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“Quite simply, there is now no NATO, no E.U., no U.N. that can or will do anything in anyone’s hour of need.”

Ouch. That’s a scathing verdict, but he does make the case for it.

Comment by hydralisk

I should add that there are several writers on this blog and so it shouldn’t be assumed that all pieces or links would be agreed to by everyone. Indeed, one of the main reasons I enjoy this blog is to have debates on issues where there is no clear answer.

Comment by J.S.

‘With the demise of fascism, Nazism, and Soviet Communism, and in the new luxury of peace, the West found itself a collective desire to save money that could be better spent on entitlements, to create some distance from the United States, and to enhance international talking clubs in which mellifluent Europeans might outpoint less sophisticated others.’

I think this is what might be termed a ‘reductivist’ view of history, Or, to put it more succinctly: ‘bullshit’.

Whether the 15 sailors in their dinghies disgraced the memory of Lord Nelson by refusing to engage in a gunfight with several Iranian navy vessels is a question I’ll leave for VDH and other armchair Admirals.

His invocation of Earl Jellicoe is quite telling though. Jellicoe is deservedly famous for overseeing the destruction of 115,000 tons of British shipping and 6,000 British sailors in the Battle of Jutland, when German ships lured the Royal Navy into what turned out to be a mutually destructive confrontation. Not all stories of derring-do end with the Jacks and Jennys back below deck in time for afternoon tea. For someone so well-versed in military lore, VDH’s bellicose (dare I say Jellicose?) shrieking about the ‘chipping away of British prestige’ misses the wider tactical point, which is that if we are to go to war with Iran, it is surely better that the time, date and location of such a confrontation is of our choosing.

I doubt that Europe has the stomach or the arms to seriously take on Iran alone (not least because the repercussions of any attack on the country would spread through the region and beyond). The heavy lifting in any conflict is inevitably done by the USA, but I agree that it would be preferable if the larger European powers were to show more solidarity in this respect, rather than leaving it to countries like, say, Poland (whose people know a totalitarian menace when they see one) to do what they can. Besides, if it does come to blows, the front line may be closer to home than they had bargained for.

Comment by Michael P

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