The good news is that Iran has announced it will release the 15 British sailors and Marines captured over a week ago by Iranian forces. Britain says it was performing its duty in Iraqi waters, but Iran claims British forces were in Iranian waters. Frankly, I don’t trust anything coming out of Iran, knowing that they have admitted to lying before. This reminds me of another time when Iran held Westerners as hostage. I’m old enough to remember hearing the nightly news reporters count the number of days that Americans had been held hostage by the Iranian government. After 444 days, Iran released these hostages as President Reagan stepped into office. Their release came because of actions taken by President Carter on the eve of leaving office. And President Carter pretty much gave Iran everything it wanted in the Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981. Iran was paid, and Iran released the hostages. So what did Iran get in exchange for their current British hostages? We may never know, but I do know that once you start paying the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

Again I am struck by the way history appears to be repeating itself. Back in the early months of 1936, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. But here’s the interesting thing that we didn’t realize until many years and millions of dead later: Hitler could have been stopped easily at that point, as outlined in the following snippet from Wikipedia:

Heinz Guderian, a German general interviewed by French officers after the Second World War, claimed: “If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen”. Hitler himself later said:

“The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance.”

Had France squawked about the re-arming of the Rhineland, Hitler would have been forced to retreat, and that retreat would have caused him to lose power. But France had no backbone, so Hitler proceeded, and millions died. Merci beaucoup, France.

Did we just miss the equivalent event this time around? I am afraid that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the same man who is thought to have been involved in the U.S. Embassy overthrow in 1979 — received his Danegeld to negotiate the release of the British hostages. This makes me wonder whether we just missed the opportunity to use a little force now in order to stop a greater threat later. And make no mistake: Iran poses a threat to the Middle East and the world right now with its support and funding of terrorism, and it will become an even worse threat when the country gets nuclear weapons.

In 1936, Hitler could have been overthrown easily with a show of force at the right time. Have we missed the opportunity to do the same in 2007 with Ahmadinejad in Iran? I hope not.

Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressing full steam ahead to get his *cough* peaceful *cough* nuclear power, and he has stated that Israel “is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm,” I have a question for Palestinians living around Israel and working to “remove the Jewish presence in Palestine”:

Once Iran nukes Israel off the map, and assuming you are not dead from being too close to the initial blasts, just how soon will you head into the radioactive wasteland to reclaim “Palestine?”

If I were a Palestinian, I’d be rather cheesed if Iran were posed to blow my contested homeland to bits. I’d even have a few choice words to say about it. So why the silence from Hamastan?

If Bill Gates were to tell me that he needed one million dollars to accomplish a life-long goal, I would have to wonder. Why would Gates be looking for additional money when he is already sitting on billions of dollars of wealth? There can’t be a justifiable need for that extra money when it would be as noticeable as a drop in a bucket. I’m sure I’d come to the conclusion that there was some underlying want, not need, which was driving him.

Likewise, I’m highly skeptical (to put it mildly) of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supposed need for nuclear power, when the nation of Iran is situated atop a lake of petroleum sufficient to provide all the power demands for that nation for years to come. So he doesn’t really need nuclear power plants to generate electricity. What he wants is nuclear weaponry, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty be damned.

So what do the powerful nations of the world do about Iran’s rush to nuclear power? Well, they’ve been trying to bribe Iran with all sorts of economic goodies, even offering a free nuclear power plant. Ahmadinejad’s response to the bribery was to disparage those who offered it: “They say they want to give us incentives. They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange.” You know, if he really wanted nuclear capability to generate electrical power, shouldn’t Ahmadinejad have jumped at the chance to get a free nuclear plant?

I just hope Ahmadinejad accepts the offer. Otherwise, he may raise the wrath of the United Nations Security Council. And if that happens, all hell would break loose when the Security Council sends Iran a strongly worded condemnation!

*shudder* The horrors!

You think I’m joking about the condemnation, and I am. But the Security Council is not. From a link at Little Green Footballs today:

Russia and China are resisting proposals from Britain, France and the United States for a council statement that would express “serious concern” about Iran’s nuclear program and asks it to comply with demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The statement does not threaten sanctions. [all emphasis mine]

No sanctions. No actions. Just a U.N. statement of “serious concern.” Sounds like they’ll be as effective in promoting world peace as Neville Chamberlain.

Peace in our time

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”

Mark Steyn of the Sun Times has written a great article. (hat tip – Little Green Footballs) He suggests a wonderful thing to try the next time you are flying in the States — impersonate Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

You know what’s great fun to do if you’re on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you’re getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, “I’ve got a bomb!” Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, “It’s OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn’t got a bomb.” And then the second marshal would say, “And even if he did have a bomb it’s highly unlikely he’d ever use it.” And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, “Relax, everyone. That’s just a harmless rhetorical flourish.” And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, “Yes, but it’s entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew.”

That’s how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they’ve gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts — oops, where are my quote marks? — the more U.S. intelligence “experts” insist no, no, it won’t be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it’s never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can’t blame Ahmadinejad for thinking “our enemies cannot do a damned thing.”

The whole article is a treat to read. And it points out the problems we have in dealing with Iran that I recently wrote about. Steyn continues with a section that outlines Iran’s push for nuclear power, regardless of what people do:

It’s not the world’s job to prove that the Iranians are bluffing. The braggadocio itself is reason enough to act, and prolonged negotiations with a regime that openly admits it’s negotiating just for the laughs only damages us further. The perfect summation of the Iranian approach to negotiations came in this gem of a sentence from the New York Times on July 13 last year:

“Iran will resume uranium enrichment if the European Union does not recognize its right to do so, two Iranian nuclear negotiators said in an interview published Thursday.”

Got that? If we don’t let Iran go nuclear, they’ll go nuclear. That position might tax even the nuanced detecting skills of John Kerry.

So what do we do? We still have three basic options with Iran, but Steyn gives a good explanation at the end of his piece about the problem with going through the United Nations to get anything done:

All the doom-mongers want to know why we went into Iraq “without a plan.” Well, one reason is surely that, for a year before the invasion, the energy of the U.S. government was primarily devoted to the pointless tap-dance through the United Nations, culminating in the absurd situation of Western foreign ministers chasing each other through Africa to bend the ear of the president of Guinea, who happened to be on the Security Council that week but whose witch doctor had advised against supporting Washington. Allowing the Guinean tail to wag the French rectum of the British hindquarters of the American dog was a huge waste of resources. To go through it all again in order to prevent whichever global colossus chances to be on the Security Council this time (Haiti? The South Sandwich Islands?) from siding with the Russo-Chinese obstructionists would show that the United States had learned nothing.

Bill Clinton, the Sultan of Swing, gave an interesting speech last week, apropos foreign policy: “Anytime somebody said in my presidency, ‘If you don’t do this, people will think you’re weak,’ I always asked the same question for eight years: ‘Can we kill ‘em tomorrow?’ If we can kill ‘em tomorrow, then we’re not weak, and we might be wise enough to try to find an alternative way.”

The trouble was tomorrow never came — from the first World Trade Center attack to Khobar Towers to the African Embassy bombings to the USS Cole. Mañana is not a policy. The Iranians are merely the latest to understand that.