The need for a strong response to Iran is underscored in a recent London Sunday Times editorial, which calls for Britain to return to the United Nations to ask for tougher sanctions. In addition, the paper says, "We know (Iran's) people are divided. If Germany and France will not end the valuable export credits for Iran, perhaps Britain and America can give them a helping nudge. Those companies that trade so profitably with Iran might suddenly find a chill breeze in their relations with London and Washington."
British ministers are said to be preparing a compromise offer this week to allow Iran to "save face" by promising it will never "knowingly" enter Iranian waters without permission. But why should Iran stop there if its intention is the continued humiliation of the West? Why should Iran, which extracted maximum propaganda value from holding Americans hostage for 444 days, give up British hostages after less than two weeks?
The Iranian leadership understands the power of coercion and military might. It is prepared for people to die en masse for its apocalyptic beliefs, concluding the West is not. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in hopes of increasing its ability to withstand pressure from other countries when it engages in outrageous acts, such as kidnapping.
Britain and the United States had better get the support of all of Europe, or Iran will conclude it can get away with anything. It also would help if the United States and Europe united in an effort to become energy independent, which we can do if we are willing to make the commitment. Starving the Iranian regime of oil and gas profits would be the fastest way to sink it. Anything less will prove, in Iranian eyes, that today's Britain is nothing like the Britain of 1982 and will encourage Iran to pursue strength while Britain and much of the West embrace weakness.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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