Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Very Clever Stall For Time

I’ve been trying to come to up with a probable reason why the Iranians would deliberately seek and seize British hostages. The internet discussion seems to be zeroing in on internal economic problems within the Islamic Republic and I don’t doubt the ruling theocracy fears the threat of internal rebellion. Still, while the leadership of Iran holds dangerously wrong beliefs, they are not stupid adversaries.

If you recall, hostage taking is the trigger setting off the Israeli – Lebanon War last summer. The Mullahs use their proxy forces Hezbollah and Hamas to provoke a response from Israel. The response is probably more violent than desired, however, in the end world opinion forces Israel to cease fighting before clearing Hezbollah from its border, or engaging their Syrian enablers directly. The Iranian backed Army of God survives and Iran gains valuable understanding about some specific tactics, but more importantly, about the overall response of the western powers. Their experiment demonstrates that western willpower is far more likely to extinguish violence than to allow violence to destroy enemies.

Now finding themselves faced with the increasing probability of a military conflict they know they will lose, the Mullahs may be counting upon setting up an early and most likely time limited skirmish with the west. They know they will be defeated in part and may be attempting to keep ‘the part’ as small as possible. United States or British bombings within Iran will be used to try and bolster reflexive internal support from the population. Most importantly though, a quick and limited flare up buys time after the dust settles, during which the political leadership of France, Britain and the United States will turn over.