The recent British opinion-polls on the hostage crisis aren’t quite as bad as Mark Steyn’s numbers suggest—48% of those polled support the use of force as a last resort, more than reject it categorically.
But there’s no denying it. While Iran’s humiliating abuse of the sailors provoked outrage in Britain, the outrage has manifested mostly in a 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 helpless.
The most tragic aspect of this whole drama is the window it has opened into the tortured psyche of our British allies. True enough, Britain is given to bouts of world-weary fatalism—a similar once hit Britain after World War II, and swept Churchill out of office. Still, I could never have guessed the extent to which Britain has accepted the loss of its national power. Our greatest ally, this people who have done so much to spread modernity, to protect and advance human civilization, to better the human condition, seem to have come under the spell of some mixture and pessimism and self-hatred.
Tony Blair 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—the very word occasions comic relief in Tehran. The latest reports suggest the hostages will be traded for a guarantee that British forces will not violate Iranian territory—at the precise moment we need to start doing precisely that in order to enforce Iran’s nuclear obligations. And London just might agree. How sad and humiliating for the British.
We are headed towards the denouement of the Iran nuclear crisis, and Iran has rejected all diplomatic solutions. We need our British allies awake, strong, and ready to fight. I wish nations could talk. Ours might say: “Wake up Britannia! Stand your ground–and return fire!”