Monday, April 02, 2007

IRAN - This is just the BEGINNING

Iran’s Latest “Push”: Kidnapping British Marines

What happens when a blatant act of war goes unpunished?

Iran has a knack for defiant acts that beg decisive retaliation. The West has a habit of failing to retaliate, rewarding Iran’s defiance. This ugly trend is destined to escalate.

The latest act of Iranian brashness and Western weakness occurred March 23, when members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard kidnapped 15 British sailors and Marines. The Brits had just finished a routine inspection of a merchant ship in Iraqi waters when Iranian vessels crossed into those waters and accosted them, and Iranian troops seized them at gunpoint.

Under international law, kidnapping another nation’s military personnel is an act of war. The British, however, treated it as an inconvenience. They hoped against hope that Iran would end the matter quickly so they could pretend it never happened. The foreign secretary of Britain said she was “extremely disturbed” by the act. Commodore Nick Lambert, commander of the frigate from which the Brits were seized, said he hoped it was just a “simple mistake” on Iran’s part.

But it wasn’t a mistake. And in the days following the kidnapping, Iran only became more belligerent.

The timing of the incident reflected its premeditated nature: It occurred the day before the United Nations Security Council voted to deepen sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, thus unmistakably signaling Iran’s defiance over this international pressure. In fact, just two days before the kidnapping, Iran’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that if Western countries “treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack.”

Bringing further suspicion upon Iran is the fact that it occurred so soon after a January American raid in northern Iraq turned up five Iranians, believed to be Revolutionary Guard members. The capture of these Iranian militants added proof to the already mountainous evidence that Iran is directly fueling the Iraqi insurgency. Nevertheless, the Revolutionary Guard’s weekly newspaper lashed out against their detention and said that the Guard has “the ability to capture a bunch of blue-eyed, blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks.”

Many analysts have speculated as to other reasons Iran acted this way at this time: It could be an effort to hasten the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq; payback for the disappearance of a Revolutionary Guard commander in Istanbul last month; an attempt to goad Britain into a fight that would rally the Iranian public; retaliation against what Iran suspects to be Britain’s involvement in drawing a key political party away from the ruling Shiite coalition in Iraq; perhaps a combination of these. In any event, kidnapping military personnel is no accident—it is a calculated, strategic move.

This episode reaffirms the truth—if it needed reaffirming—that taking the diplomatic track with Iran is doomed to fail. Discussions have done nothing to change Tehran’s confrontational course. This incident occurred amid increased efforts by the West to engage Iran through diplomacy. It was not curbed in the slightest by the economic sanctions already in place against Iran—in fact it occurred just as further sanctions were about to be put in place.

The fact is, Iran was bold enough to kidnap British sailors and soldiers not in spite of the West’s actions against it, but because those actions have been so toothless. Iran’s notion that the West is weak and poses little threat—even in the face of audacious provocations—has been reaffirmed time and time again by the West’s timidity.

America, Britain and Europe should frankly acknowledge the abject failure of the efforts they have taken to contain Iran. The plain, little-acknowledged truth is that for years, radical Iranian leaders haven’t been given any reason to back away from their pushy agenda.

That Iran attacked the British is worthy of contemplation. One very plausible argument is that Iran specifically targeted British fighters because, unlike the British, America’s rules of engagement would have permitted U.S. soldiers to fight back; the Iranians may have feared—and not without reason—that the incident could have escalated into all-out war, which they are still keen to avoid at this point. That being said, whatever determination the present U.S. administration may have to engage Iran militarily is being resisted tooth-and-nail by Congress. One prominent congressional proposal is a bill that would eliminate the option of using military force against Iran without congressional approval. This incident with the British could actually hasten such misguided efforts—cementing the legislation before the provocation becomes one against the U.S. directly.

Kidnapping the British, however, in addition to costing little, was a safe move. Iran’s assessment—proven correct thus far—was that the Blair government would do nothing.

Predictable as this may have been, it is still extraordinary.

The Business, which called this Britain’s “greatest foreign-policy humiliation since the Suez crisis of 1956,” wrote this on March 28:

Why have the British suddenly become indifferent to or even willfully ignorant of what has happened in the Gulf? In a word: Iraq. The public feels cheated and betrayed by the conflict, emotions made worse by the horrible feeling that they may be in part responsible for the terror and chaos that Iraqis must endure every day. Only 29 percent of the UK electorate now believes it was right to end Saddam Hussein’s reign of tyranny; unbelievably, many in Britain fear America more than they do Iran.

Because of the Iraq debacle, less than a third of the electorate would trust a British government if it said that action was necessary against another country because it posed a direct threat to British national security.

The British simply don’t trust their government. Revulsion to war has trumped all other considerations, even that of accepting the version of events put forward by their own leaders over that of the terrorist-sponsoring Iranians.

This shocking incident vividly illustrates two prophetically significant trends readers should be following.

The first is British weakness. This affront to the Royal Navy is a remarkable symbol of the decimation of what was once the pride of British power. As Melanie Phillips asked: “What on Earth has happened to this country of ours, for so many centuries a byword for defending itself against attack, not least against piracy or acts of war on the high seas?” (Daily Mail, March 28).

As the Trumpet has repeatedly reminded readers, Bible prophecy specifically describes a curse God would send on a disobedient Britain during the times in which we live—that of breaking the pride in its power (Leviticus 26:19). This prophecy, thoroughly explained in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, could not be more prominently displayed than in Britain’s weak, fearful response to this brazen act of war against it.

The second prophetic trend is that of Iranian pushiness. Another bold prophecy the Trumpet has spoken of extensively is that of the end-time “king of the south”—every indication about which points to Iran—that will “push” at a world superpower in an act that will provoke World War iii (Daniel 11:40). The Trumpet’s editor in chief has indicated that, in addition to being a single bold act, this “push” transpires over a period of time, and has in fact already begun. Iran kidnapping British military personnel without fear of repercussion powerfully illustrates that present “push” and demonstrates the mindset of the power behind that future, even greater provocation.

The prophecy in Daniel 11:40 also shows, however, that there is coming a point when Iran’s push will provoke a decisive response—but not from Britain or America.

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