Iran’s economy? Stinks.
Iran’s technology? Stinks.
Iran’s population? Lacking civil liberties; dismissive and tired of their leadership.
Iran’s leadership? Strong-fisted, unelected theocrats willing to sacrifice children in war, fronted by spittle-spewing, media-lovin’, antisemitic, US bashing, devout Muslim who believes in the imminent arrival of the 12th imam.
Iran at the UN? Actually the subject of sanctions in the UN Security Council.
Iran’s allies? Russia, major supplier, has stopped nuclear assistance supposedly for lack of payment.
Iran’s prospects for peace? Well, it looked bleak considering the international consensus that surrounded Iran’s nuclear ambitions and pronouncements. The US is dead-set against this development, and the Europeans led by the UK have also expressed strong reservations. The Arab nations near the Gulf as well as those with a Sunni majority are also quaking in fear and forming alliances to attempt to counter this development. Even Russia seems to have some second thoughts. The UNSC has just voted a second resolution intended to punish Iran for lack of compliance with nuclear capability development.
So what do the Iranians do? They kidnap soldiers. Last year, as they were up for sanctions in the UN, their acknowledged proxy, Hizbullah, kidnapped Israeli soldiers while simultaneously attacking an Israeli community. This brought about Israeli retaliation and the war which ensued.
This time around, the day after the UNSC voted in favor of new sanctions against Iran, the Iranians kidnapped 15 British sailors on the pretext that they were sailing in Iranian waters, even though the waters where the sailors were in seem to be either in Iraqi or international waters. It doesn’t matter, the Iranians came aboard, took the British sailors and put forth a media circus for the next several days.
What have they accomplished?
First of all, they embarrassed the UK and its government. Second, they showed the UK that when faced with the prospect of fighting Iran, the UK would rather blink, blush and make nice once the hot air of bluster has been used up. Third, they hinted broadly at their strength in gulf waters near their territory – waters that carry a great deal of the world’s oil supplies. Fourth, they distracted everybody from further discussion of nukes or sanctions. Fifth, they succeeded in showing the weakness of the West by revealing how uncommitted the British soldiers were to their mission that within a couple of days, they were willing to write or record messages negating the very statements of their government. Sixth, and best of all, without firing even a single shot, without going to war, without detracting further from their already negative image, and without addressing the key issue that interests the international community – nuclear power development – the Iranians managed to imply the danger of launching a war against them while ingratiating themselves and re-opening diplomatic channels with governments on the warpath with them.
Yup, it was a brilliant series of maneuvers and the cherry on top of this sundae is the gratitude of the British government to the Iranians for releasing the sailors who shouldn’t have been kidnapped in the first place. The British government is thrilled to have evaded a confrontation. Lame duck PM, Blair, does not have the support needed to go to war and was further embarrassed because his public knows that were it not for him, it is unlikely that those sailors would have been sailing in Gulf waters in the first place. Because of this, and because there was no way to get these sailors released short of going to war, Iran’s magnanimous gesture of the sailors’ release prevents escalation and makes the Iranians look like…the GOOD GUYS.
And here is where Israel could learn from the Iranians. What do the Israelis have? Corrupt government? Check. Leaders who care about their own behinds instead of the nation or Zionism? Check. A weakened IDF that appears weaker than it has in decades? Check. An ongoing international public relations disaster fuelled by an occupation from which they cannot extricate themselves even if they had a leadership that seeks to do so? Check. Vilification and delegitimization by international bodies such as the UN and a multitude of nations including many in Europe that either support or abstain when it comes to these attacks? Check. The uncertainty of impending war with neighbors near and far? Check.
The easy solution? KIDNAP SOLDIERS!
Imagine a scenario where a French ambassador speaks about Israel calling it a “shitty little country” followed by a French PM declaring his support for the Arab nations arrayed against Israel followed by a pending vote against Israel in the UNSC which the French will support. What should Israel do?
Kidnap French soldiers.
Heck, there are a few in the UN “peacekeeping” force just north of Israel’s border as I write. Kidnap those poor suckers so they don’t have to suffer those cold Lebanese nights watching Hizbullah smuggle in more arms in violation of UNSCR 1701. Kidnap them and blame it on them. Say they trespassed into Israeli territory or assisted Hizbullah – the accusation need not be true. Then Israel should convince these French soldiers to write letters extolling Israel’s excellent people, well-crafted borders, strong and irrevocable right to exist, and the mistaken policy of the French government to side with Arab nations. Israel can convince the soldiers to do this easily – the country is laden with good food and, uh, attractive women (although they should expect petitions from peace groups to the Supreme court opposing the prisoners’ manipulation through the use of attractive women since this is the only form of harrassment left in the hands of Israel’s jailers).
After some days when the French will threaten Israel with war (haha) or with mean diplomats saying nasty things to Israeli counterparts, Israel can make a goodwill gesture and fly the soldiers back to France. This Israeli gesture will be recognized as friendly and immediately enable heartwarming phone calls between Chirac and Olmert. Trade will improve, diplomatic relations will improve, and bearing in mind that their soldiers could be kidnapped again, France will begin to side or at least abstain on critical votes in the UN.
Sound good? Of course it does.
And this scenario can be replicated with every European nation except for Russia which will, of course, immediately launch a vicious war that destroys Tel Aviv. Heck, Israel could even try this with some Muslim countries. Want to develop relations with Saudi Arabia? Kidnap a couple of royal family princes. Instant door opener. Malaysia upsetting everyone in Israel? Kidnap some of their soldiers. They’ll come to love Israel once they’re released without any concessions. Heck, Israel might even try this exceptional soldier kidnapping system on…Iran…