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Haven't seen anyone else do anything meaningful in Rwanda or Darfur either apart from utter meaningless words that salve feelings of impotence.
So if the UN is to be ignored what do you suggest?


Some people like a multipolar world...they think Chinese and Russian values enrich humanity but usually they prefer to live under Anglo-Saxon values themselves where they are free to advocate a more restricted diet for what they consider the lesser breeds happy to suffer repression and aberrant regimes

tired and emotional

I prefer Newt Gingrich’s suggestion: give an ultimatum for the safe return. If they miss it destroy Iran’s only oil refinery and mount an oil blockade. Make it very clear that the pain will continue as long you hold our people. If they are harmed then there will be a very serious response directed at the Revolutionary Guards.

Donal Blaney

Here is My Two Cents from Up Front on 18 Doughty Street last night: http://18doughtystreet.com/on_demand/315


Well, Malcolm in the end an unremitting, implacable enemy wishing to conquer you can only be defeated by a force that is even more determined and will not brook defeat.

We should, of course, seek the help of the UN in getting our sailors and marines back. By the time the UN has swung into action and consensus prevails we would probably be in a position to exert pressure on Iran ourselves (assuming by then that it has not developed a nuclear bomb), for by something like 2012 (with Gordon's permission) we will start to build two new aircraft carriers and by 2020 we will probably have planes that can fly off the carriers, so all is not lost and by then practically everyone will be employed by the government.

It maybe that in the end that Iran will wish to be thought of as being nice, get bored with kidnapping our servicemen and hand them back so that it can carry on in peace developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes - who knows? So our best chance of getting our boys and girl back is to hope that Iran gets bored with it all, or, we could try calling up Dad's Army as a real threat (they don't like it up 'em you know).

But when all is said and done and diplomacy fails, then there is only one man with the ability to get out troops returned. Yes, you have guessed it: Portillo (assuming that he has not been neutered and turned into a limp wrist at the BBC) must be returned as leader so that he can again make his terrific SAS speech (who needs aircraft carriers?). Wow!

I was reminded recently of a quote attributed to Churchill: "Who needs a crystal ball when you have history books".
Unfortunately, some of our would be leaders specialize in reading tea leaves.

It is sometimes necessary in order that you engender respect to be seen, "Walking softly, but carrying a big stick".

So in the long run, Malcolm do you believe that the UN is going to deal with or curtail the threat of Iran?

As an afterthought perhaps we could send someone to give the Iranian president a hug

Eugene A

Holy Crap! Where's the nation that crushed the Ottoman Empire? Yoo-hoo! Brits - do something! We are by your side! What are you waiting for?


It's time to recognize the UN for the failure it is and dismantle it. What has the UN ever done for the US or Britain that they could not achieve on their own?


It is intensely humiliating that a nation that used to rule a quarter of the globe is now being made a fool of. As for the UN, its failure to make a more decisive statement merely emphasises how redundant it is.


It is humiliating Richard I entirely agree. But when we can field fewer than 30,000 infantry troops much as it pains me to say it we might have to live with that humiliation .If we are going to fight wars like this then by God we are going to have to start to pay for it.The age of our Maxim guns against spear wielding warriors is over.
A brilliant series of points Don'tmakemelaugh how coulds I possibly disagree with anything you say? Let's just nuke them and sod the consequences.


Too bad the BBC isn't on your side. I suspect it'd be a different ballgame.


And they say Americans have no sense of irony eh Steevo?


What us blasted Yanks?

Its just fact: stop funneling your taxes into a 4th rail determined to obliterate your sovereign power and funnel it into a fighting force. You'll not have to rely on an institution with kid gloves facing 3rd world fascists.


You lot signed on to the EU and you lot apparently believe that the UN is some kind of shining moral Parliament of Mankind.

You lot disbanded your navy, thinking those of us who think force still matters in the world are reactionary warmongers.

So, tough. You Brits just sit there and suck it up.

You married Brussels, so get used to it.

Philip (A Brit)

Although the UN could in theory have a useful role in being a forum for resolving disagreements, and things like organising emergency aid, the whole idea of a nation having to get UN agreement, i.e. agreement of other nations including human rights abusers, before doing anything to protect itself, is wrong. The nation state should have primacy over international bodies such as the UN and EU. Confidence in such seemingly cuddly institutions like the EU and UN to keep peace is misplaced. The editorial above is totally correct that "The UN - compromised by the human rights-abusing members of its Security Council - is a very inadequate alternative to a world where free democracies work together to address global challenges."


It is humiliating Richard I entirely agree. But when we can field fewer than 30,000 infantry troops much as it pains me to say it we might have to live with that humiliation .

Well stated Malcolm.

There's a lot of wild proposals on this blog, but not one of them has offered to pay double income tax or VAT on food or even to volunteer to go fight or to support a Conscription Act.

There is no point in threatening to fight Iran - they would probably beat us hollow and the last vestiges of self-respect would be gone. A nation of 60 million unable to support a Division with proper equipment in the field is hardly likely to take on a nation of 70 million when it has had so little success in Iraq.

In fact without the British Empire - India, Australia, Canada and the largest volunteer army in the history of the world ie the Indian Army, Germany's larger population would have crushed Britain in both world wars.

Time to accept that you cannot drive Audis and fill the mortgaged house with Chinese-made goods AND pretend to be Victorian Imperial Britain putting the world to rights........especially when we lost almost 9 times the size of today's British Army KIA in WWI

No point in provoking people who could defeat us...we have lived on bluffing for years....Germany called our bluff twice and losing was a very distinct probability...no point in tempting fate


The nation state should have primacy over international bodies such as the UN and EU.

Article 51 UN Charter

Kevin Sampson

“It is intensely humiliating that a nation that used to rule a quarter of the globe is now being made a fool of.”

When the Arabs (or Persians) talk about being humiliated, it’s usually to justify the latest terrorist attack. Perhaps that same logic could be applied here?


Richard, re: "It is intensely humiliating that a nation that used to rule a quarter of the globe is now being made a fool of."

"Humiliating" is not the term I would use. "America's shame" and "humiliation" were the terms used by the MSM during the US Embassy Hostage Crisis back in the '70s, when "infuriating" was more accurate. The population was hell-bent on showing those SOB's a lesson, and Carter froze up like a deer in the headlights, going through the UN during that obvious act of war and waiting for each pronouncement that the UN was REALLY angry this time, and later REALLY REALLY angry and might be so outraged as to send Iran a letter saying so.

The only "shame" and "humiliation" involved in the Embassy Hostage Crisis was that of Carter's lack of response (for which he lost re-election in a landslide for Reagan) and the Iranians lack of civility. It was THEIR shame, not ours.

In the same way, the only "humiliation" I can see attached to this horrifying incident is the Iranian's lack of civility. The fact that those people were snatched out of Iraqi waters is obvious to anyone who takes a good look at it.

This might seem to be a quibble over semantics, but the fact is that words MEAN things.

And the message that you want to world to hear is that Iran is a nation obviously incapable of dealing with other nations in any acceptable way.


PS: It is WELL past time to give the UN ambassadors 10 days to leave New York and bulldoze the UN into the East River and start over again with an organization of democratic states that is subservient to national sovereignty. I turned against the UN way back during the Embassy Crisis in the '70s.


Gee, maybe I should stop waiting for this any-moment-now UN condemnation of human rights violations? Better to just remember Abu Ghraib ad nauseam.

Matt Davis

Britain needs the UN like a fish needs a bicycle.


Well said, mamapajamas. Which is more shameful not being able to respond due to lack of power, or having the power to respond and not doing so due to lack of spine? I think the latter, don't you?

The UN is a useless and expensive waste of American and British taxpayer money. It is time to rid ourselves of this silly organization.

Britain: The way to assuage your sense of humiliation is to vow that this will never happen again, and then work to make it so.


What is this nonsense about Britain being unable to do anything to punish Iran?

While I agree that invading them is beyond our capabilities, there are surely a few options along the continuum between a)do nothing and b)launch major land war in Asia.


On the subject of the UN Security Council..It has since it's inception been flawed by design. The notion that any organisation which brings to mind Orwells famous 'All animals are equal but some animals are more equal'can function for the promotion of world security is putting too much faith in the goodwill of mortal men.

Countries seem to only receive sanction or condemnation from the security council when they have fallen out of favour with a pemanent member. Some countries seem to have carte-blanche to ignore the UN with no sanctions placed on them.
Why do they still use a system of permanent members and veto's?
Why is there such a disparity in the use of Chaapter VI and Chapter VII resolutions?
The UN is impotent prescicely because it's security function is often hijacked to satisfy the ideological,economic or national goals of it's permanent members.
All the permanent members are guilty of this abuse of their power..
Another clear anomaly is that four of the permanent members of the SECURITY council are also the largest arms dealers in the world. Can any one else see the irony.

I wonder whether any of my fellow contributers have any grasp of historical analysis. I think this is exactly what is needed when discussing our relations with Iran. Since the discovery of oil in Persia, we have tried to exert our influence on the Iranians and the wider Middle East.
The Iranians have obviously studied their history and learnt not to trust us.
The hostage crisis of 79-81 was in part an attempt to ensure that the CIA did not have a diplomatic base from which to ochestrate dissent and manipulate the direction of the revolution.
Western countries have to realise that the days of the natives naively trusting our assurances are consigned to history.


Britain could take a strong unilateral line against the Iranian agression. The British personnel abducted are part of the most effective, well trained armed forces in the world. We could inflict a serious blow to Iran with just our Naval and Airpower. We may not have the largest armed forces in the World but this disadvantage is balanced out by their first rate training and the professional approach they take to any task at hand. We can also still assemble an impressive carrier task force. I think this course of action would however be counter-productive, with regard to the security in the region at large.
The quality of the personnel within the British armed forces is acknowledged worldwide, unfortunately their sacrifices are seldom matched by an iota of political clarity or goodwill regarding their funding and deployment.

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