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A Contrarian View

Could the Iranian seizure of 15 British mariners have been a carefully considered move on their part, even if it leads to a shooting war? After posting this as a comment on Helena Cobban’s world affairs blog, I decided to put it here as well.

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Regardless of where the maritime border may or may not be, let’s not forget it was the Iranians who decided to make a move they knew was provocative, when they might just as well not have.

I think the Iranians are much better chess players than their opponents (Britain, Israel, and the U.S.) so they must have calculated their options and decided that whatever the possible countermove (including a dramatic escalation) they would hold the advantage.

This is eerily similar to Hezbollah’s seizure of Israeli soldiers last summer, also in disputed territory. To everyone’s surprise except Hezbollah, they were the winners of that conflict both morally and strategically.

We need to consider that Iran is essentially daring the West to strike back, because they are sick of American bluster and want to move to the endgame. They know that if they end up in a shooting war, they will hold several advantages. In most of the possible scenarios, they won’t even need to reveal all their hidden weapons in order to win.

In that regard, what’s up with the recent Saudi–Iranian détente, the apparent Saudi–Syrian détente at the Arab summit, and the Saudi withdrawal from a dinner date at the White House next month? All of these developments seem to show that the American grand plan to set Sunni against Shia across the Middle East has precisely backfired.

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The ideas expressed above draw some of their inspiration from two articles in the Asia Times, “Iran Prepared to Fight, if Necessary” and “British Pawns in an Iranian Game.”

Comments

Comment from Bill Day
Time: March 29, 2007, 20:37

I hope a shooting war is unlikely, and I cannot imagine the Iranians would seriously want one. I am not really familiar with Iranian military capabilities, but I suspect they are not much greater than Saddam Hussein’s were. On two occasions the United States military cut through the Iraqi army like a hot knife through butter, largely on the strength of our air and naval power. Our experience in Iraq suggests that we could not put a smashed Iran back together, but I have little doubt that, even mired in Iraq, we could smash Iran in a full-scale armed conflict, something I do not think anybody wants. (Except maybe Dick Cheney.) The Iranians may be playing a good game, but it seems like a dangerous one for all players.

Comment from moul
Time: March 30, 2007, 01:00

It’s amazing that nobody asks what british soldiers are doing, in first place, so far away from their home?
If we conceed that the soldier are hostages (occident soldiers-including isrealis- are never prisonners!!), it’s clear that iranians are much stronger in this game (after all persans did invent chess). We did see how they benefit from the american ambassy hostages back to 80. I think that the iranians want the release of their (real) hostage, diplomats deteined by the american occupation forces in Irak. It could also be a response to the defection of a high rank general of the pasdaran about a month ago.
Anyway i’m deleighted that the british could taste the plate they have been serving to the irakian population during these 4 last years..

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