National Review Online has this editorial today regarding the current stand off between Great Britain and Iran with regard to the 15 detained British Sailors. As you may or may not know, Iranian Patrol Craft seized a British Envoy during an inspection of a suspect oil tanker by the latter. The Iranians continue to hold the Sailors hostage.
The Mullahs want to know, what are we going to do about it?
This paragraph in the editorial is especially pertinent (bold emphasis mine):
"Israel was placed in this dilemma last summer, when Iranian agents — the Hezbollah of Lebanon — crossed the border, killed some soldiers, and took two others hostage. Israel treated this aggression as a declaration of war, and its repeat in the Gulf waters has to be met with the same firmness. The making of any sort of deal whereby personnel legally arrested are exchanged for personnel illegally snatched — never mind anything that might compromise sanctions — would mean unconditional victory for Iran, and the admission of impotence and humiliation for Britain, and therefore the West."
So, basically, Ayatollah Khameini and his short little puppet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad want to know, "what are you going to do about it?"
Obviously, their confidence is high that the answer is "nothing".
How did we get here?
Imagine two worlds.
The first is a world where such aggression isn't even perpetrated because the aggressor fears the resolve of the transgressed. The aggressor knows that his economy is teetering on the brink of ruin because of his statism. The aggressor knows that, because he operates a fear society, that his people yearn for freedom and at the slightest sign of military instability, heightened by an attack by a First World Nation in response to such an aggression, he will lose control over his own citizenry. Its too risky, so he respects the First World Power and doesn't cut his own throat.
The second scenario is radically different. The aggressor seems to project power around the world because of the fear-ridden inaction of the transgressed. The aggressor knows that retaliation by the First World Power being transgressed faces resistence from a detached, restless population that is leary of any type of military casualty. The aggressor knows that ultimately, the First World Power will therefore give in to the demands of the aggressor. The aggressor knows this because of the vocal opposition to any kind of military action routinely voiced by a large segment of the First World Power's politicians. The First World's Media gladly acts as a megaphone for the opportunistic and naive First World politicians who project this message. Also, maybe unwittingly, they report the news in a way designed to elicit sympathy for the aggressors.
So, where are we? Sadly, scenario listed second is where we are. And the Mullahs know it. Giving ANY kind of concession to these autocrats in this situation is nothing more than a symbol of weakness. It will only get worse from here.
Put down the Xbox controller. Think beyond your own world. Khameini et al are asking - "What are you going to do about it?" I hope we have the right answer before we sink further.