The Smiling Eunuch

What will “Europe” and the U.N. do about Iran? Short answer: Nothing.

Mark Steyn writes:

On this 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, Tony Blair is looking less like Margaret Thatcher and alarmingly like Jimmy Carter, the embodiment of the soi-disant “superpower” as a smiling eunuch.

But this is a season of anniversaries. A few days ago, the European Union was celebrating its 50th birthday with the usual lame-o Euro-boosterism. I said up above that the 15 hostages are “British subjects.” But, as a point of law, they are also “citizens of the European Union.” Even Oxford and Hoover’s Timothy Garton Ash, one of the most indefatigable of those Euro-boosters, seemed to recognize the Iranian action was a challenge to Europe’s pretensions. “Fifteen Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” he wrote. “Those 14 European men and one European woman have been held at an undisclosed location for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access, but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making a staged ‘confession,’ clearly under duress. So if Europe is as it claims to be, what’s it going to do about it?”

Short answer: Nothing.

Slightly longer answer: The 15 “European” hostages aren’t making that much news in “Europe.” And, insofar as they have, other “Europeans” — i.e., Belgians, Germans and whatnot — don’t look on the 15 hostages as “Europeans” but as Brits. Europe has more economic leverage on Iran than America has. The European Union is the Islamic Republic’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of Iranian exports. They are in a position to inflict serious pain on Tehran. But not for 15 British servicemen. There may be “European citizens,” but there is no European polity.

OK, well, how about the United Nations? Those student demonstrators want the execution of “British aggressors.” In fact, they’re U.N. aggressors. HMS Cornwall is the base for multinational marine security patrols in the Gulf: a mission authorized by the United Nations. So what’s the U.N. doing about this affront to its authority and (in the public humiliation of the captives) of the Geneva Conventions?

Short answer: Nothing.

…we live today in a world of one-way sovereignty: American, British and Iraqi forces in Iraq respect the Syrian and Iranian borders; the Syrians and Iranians do not respect the Iraqi border. Patrolling the Shatt al-Arab at a time of war, the Royal Navy operates under rules of engagement designed by distant fainthearts with an eye to the polite fictions of “international law”: If you’re in a ”warship,” you can’t wage war. If you’re in a ”destroyer,” don’t destroy anything. If you’re in a “frigate,” you’re frigging done for.

On Sept. 11, a New York skyscraper was brought down by the Egyptian leader of a German cell of an Afghan terror group led by a Saudi. Islamism is only the first of many globalized ideological viruses that will seep undetected across national frontiers in the years ahead. Meanwhile, we put our faith in meetings of foreign ministers.

“It is better to be making the news than taking it,” wrote Winston Churchill in 1898. But his successors have gotten used to taking it, and the men who make the news well understand that.

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