Wednesday, March 28, 2007


What Would Lord Nelson Do?

That's the question asked in this RealClearPolitics piece with regard to the seizure of British sailors and Marines by Iran (h/t: Spook86). A taste:
"That noise you hear as you pass the crypt at St. Paul's cathedral in London is Lord Horatio Nelson spinning in his grave.

Admiral Nelson was the greatest seaman of a seafaring nation which has produced many. If he had been in command of the HMS Cornwall in the Persian Gulf last Friday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair would not now be begging the mullahs in Tehran for the release of his illegally seized sailors and marines.

"No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy," Lord Nelson said.

Lord Nelson, alas, was killed at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The captain of the HMS Cornwall is Commodore Nick Lambert, a more modern sort. He did nothing as six Iranian speedboats seized the boarding party from his ship as they were leaving the freighter they had inspected in Iraqi territorial waters."

It comes down to ROE. American ROE is quite clear about self defense:
""U.S. Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self defense, but also an obligation to self defense," LtCdr Horner told the British newspaper the Independent. "Our reaction was 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'""
British ROE? Not so much.
"British rules of engagement "are very much de-escalatory, because we don't want wars starting," the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, told the BBC.

"Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away," he said."

Having "de-escalatory" ROE leads you to a place where you sit idly by and allow another nation to seize members of your armed forces on the high seas. Allowing this precedent to be set is a very dangerous thing. In another time, stuff like this was considered an act of war. Now we just roll over and take it, mouthing some platitudes about how serious of an act this is and the need for the personnel to be returned immediately. In other words, we get very angry, and then we write a letter telling them how angry we are. Color me skeptical, but I don't think words are going to convince the Iranians to give the British their people back.

We (meaning the West) have been at war with the Iranians for almost 30 years now. It's time to wake up and realize the only language these people understand is the language of dicks. Lord Nelson had some choice words for hostile actions undertaken by "neutral" actors:
"Never break the neutrality of a port or place, but never consider as neutral any place from whence an attack is allowed to be made."
Indeed. Time for us to heed his words.