I haven’t come across any polls yet, but I’ve been reading British opinion pieces for some indication of how the public there views the hostage-taking. When I guessed last week (here on the Corner) that the British would “go ballistic” over the image of their female sailor paraded in Islamic dress, some British readers attempted via email to dampen my expectations. Their advice proved prescient.
Iran’s humiliating abuse of the sailors provoked outrage in Britain to be sure—but the outrage instantly gave way to despondent impotence. On the British right, folks lament that years of Labour government have left the Royal Navy in the most decrepit and weakened state of its history; whereas from the left the government is criticized for wasting British power on a needless war in Iraq. Opinion seems unanimous that Britain is impotent.
The most tragic aspect of this whole drama is the window it has opened into the tortured psyche of our British allies. I could never have guessed the extent to which Britain has accepted the end of its own greatness. Our greatest ally, this people who have done so much to spread modernity, to protect and advance human civilization, to better the human condition for millions around the world, seem to have come under the spell not merely of profound pessimism, but even a kind of committed fatalism.
Tony Blair, meanwhile, appears to be in a daze. Confronted with Iran’s abuse of his countrymen in an act of war, Blair threatens Iran with—of all things—isolation! Isolation: something the regime has already accepted with laughter and derision. How sad and humiliating for the British.
And how dangerous—for the free world. The moment of truth in the Iranian nuclear crisis is approaching fast. We need Britain awake, strong, and ready to fight. If we allow Tehran to pull out of the nonproliferation regime, the nuclear genie will be out of the bottle—within decades, dozens of dictatorships will have nuclear weapons; nuclear terrorism will become a fact of life; and our children and grand-children will wonder why we did so little to leave behind a world as safe as the one the British Empire left to us.
Wake up Britannia! Dunkirk left you with nothing, facing the most terrible enemy humanity had ever known—and you defeated them! The enemies you face now are pitiful rustic fools! Stand your ground—and return fire!