Contrast Taheri's perspective, founded on familiarity with his Iranian historic culture, with Kenneth Timmerman's ideas in his FrontPage Mag article "Why Iran Released the Hostages." Timmerman places more emphasis on British economic pull out of a trade show in Tehran, and the fact that the USS Nimitz was steadily steaming towards the Persian Gulf to add it's strength to the existing warships already present. Granted, there is logic to this. But it is western logic. I don't believe we can assume Iranian strategy follows the path of our western logic.
Frankly, Taheri's explanation of Iran's behavior makes far more sense than the speculation of the sundry talking heads playing the "why" game in the hostage release aftermath.
Taheri cites early Islamic conqueror history to explain mullah strategy of warfare.
The seizure of hostages is based on an ancient tradition first practised by early Islamic conquerors. The Arab general Saad Abi Waqqas realised that Muslim fighters were awestruck by the Byzantine soldiers in the early stages of Islamic conquests in the 7th century. He solved the problem by putting captured Byzantine soldiers on show to demonstrate that the “Infidel” were fragile men, not mythical giants.
Why the Brits? Because of the recent change in the rules of engagement by Bush, and the limitations of the British rules of engagement. Bush, with the new revitalized surge, told our guys to engage when provoked. Britain prohibits engaging the Iranians, even in self-defense. Woof...
The mullahs remembered the Abi Waqqas stratagem last summer amid growing rumours of an impending US attack on the Khomeinist regime. Their first aim was to capture some Americans. Last September, they set a trap for a platoon of GIs from the 101st Airborne Division patrolling the Iraqi border with Iran. The Americans had been led into the trap but after an intense shooting match with the Iranian force sent to capture them, they managed to flee to safety.
President Bush’s decision to change the rules of engagement for US forces in Iraq with the new “surge” strategy, allowing Americans to kill or capture any Iranian perceived as a threat, made it more difficult for the mullahs to do an Abi Waqqas. As a result, the British, whose rules of engagement prevent them from fighting Iranians even in self-defence, were chosen as the softer target.
Well there's a valuable lesson. The ability to fight back deters the attackers. Go no... (yes - that's sarcasm)
Taheri labels Iran vs West as a low intensity war waged for over three decades now. And thruout that time, the West remains passive in response. Also, with criticism high on preemptive military action in the wake of Iraq, Iran knows full well that the int'l community would not sanction aggression against Iran. They did not need to take hostages to prove that Britain or it's ally, the US, would avoid military response. So why did they?
Taheri cites some reasons the western media doesn't even think of. In the shadow of increased UN sanctions, Ahmadinejad proved he was easily capable of raising tensions a few notches at will. And while the world was focused on the hostage crisis, he used that time to do some quiet, internal purges of some prominent "dissidents", trying them for "damaging state security".
So what to do about Iran? Taheri has suggestions there as well... a taste of their own medicine.
The debate on what to do about the mullahs hits a deadend because it is limited to two options: regime change or surrender. Those who blame the West for the world’s evils urge surrender, in atonement of sins supposedly committed against Iran over centuries. They hope that once the mullahs are given everything, they would start behaving reasonably. This argument ignores the fact that the Khomeinist regime’s political DNA would not allow it to act reasonably. A scorpion does not sting because it wants to misbehave but because it is programmed to do so.
The alternative, however, is not one of surrender or regime change. The Western democracies could give the Islamic republic a taste of its own medicine — and engage it in the kind of low-intensity warfare that Iran itself indulges in. The mischief must not be cost-free. It would be resisted though diplomatic and economic means as well as through support for the democratic and reformist forces inside Iran. Throughout history, adversaries end up by adopting aspects of each other’s strategy.
His final paragraph is the ovation getter tho.
The Islamic Republic wants a Khomeinist Middle East. The “Infidel” want a democratic, pro-West Middle East. The two visions are incompatible. Eventually, one must win as the other loses. As the British celebrate the return of their hostages they would do well to decide which vision deserves support.
Wise words indeed. But will they be heeded?