Britons Return Home

The British service personnel seized by Iran and accused of violating Iranian territorial waters almost two weeks ago have returned home:

LONDON – A British navy crew returned home Thursday from Iranian captivity to the relief of a nation, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced their surprise release and ended the two-week crisis. The 15 sailors and marines broke open champagne and changed into fresh uniforms on the flight home. After landing, they smiled and stood at attention before being whisked by helicopter to the Royal Marines base at Chivenor, southwest of London.

Wednesday’s announcement of their release in Tehran was a breakthrough in a crisis that had escalated over nearly two weeks, raising oil prices and fears of military conflict in the volatile region. The move to release the sailors suggested that Iran’s hard-line leadership decided it had shown its strength but did not want to push the standoff too far.

Iran did not get the main thing it sought — a public apology for entering Iranian waters. Britain, which said its crew was in Iraqi waters when seized, insists it never offered a quid pro quo, either, instead relying on quiet diplomacy.

We have no way of knowing what the “quiet diplomacy” accomplished or what was required and may never know. There are plenty of people in the blogosphere proclaiming this a victory for Iran. I have no idea how Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s rather theatrical gesture will play with his target audience. At least to my eyes it hasn’t played particularly well to American or, probably, British audiences but, then, we’re not the target audience. I rather suspect that Iran has traded a short-term political victory for a longer-term strategic loss.

How has the entire matter played with the Chinese? Will it enhance Iran’s image as a reliable vendor?

We’ll just have to wait and see how things unfold. Meanwhile, I’m sure the British service people are glad to be back. There’s no place like home.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. legion says:

    I’m not sure about the Chinese, but I wonder what sort of bargaining chip (and for whom) the recent disagreements between Iran and Russia re: nuclear plants were…

  2. I am reminded when it was fashionable to take western, especially US, hostages in Lebanon. Then one day they took some flunky Russian hostage. The KGB reacted in a way to make Beria smile in his grave, making it clear that heads would literally roll. The Russian hostage was immediately released.

    I suspect that if Iran tried this shenanigan with the Chinese, the Chinese would show Iran some ‘old school’ diplomacy.

  3. Triumph says:

    I cant wait for the liberal Pelosi to take credit for this as she hops around the region in her Lear jet.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    I rather suspect that Iran has traded a short-term political victory for a longer-term strategic loss.

    Who is it you think they will take a loss from/with?

  5. legion says:

    Oh great. Now our top admiral is shooting his mouth off & implicitly insulting our last real ally in the world:

    The US naval chief said Thursday he thought US military personnel would have fought against Iranian forces and not been taken prisoner as were 15 recently freed Britons.

    Asked if a situation like the one faced by the British sailors and marines who were just released after being held by Tehran could have happened to US sailors, Admiral Michael Mullen, chief of Naval operations told CNN television: “My expectation is that American sailors are never seized in a situation like that.

    “Individuals and units are guided by the right of self-defense, they don’t have to ask permission to take action to protect themselves. And they go into operations like this, and missions like this, with that understanding,” he said.

    “Never siezed in a situation like that”? Really, Admiral? I guess he’s only talking about sailors and not aviators.

  6. kenny says:

    ““Never seized in a situation like that”? Really, Admiral? I guess he’s only talking about sailors and not aviators.”

    Be fair to mullen, he was ,after all,today hosting the chief of the navy his country apologised to when the US wanted their military released, after they had been caught without fighting to the death.

    Don’t seem to remember blair apologising to anyone. Unlike Bush.

    But I guess the US wants to start a war with Iran in 2007 whilst they didn’t want to do so in 2001.