Though the six Britons were released within six hours, the reaction in London was immediate. After withdrawing all remaining official government personnel from Iran, Prime Minister David Cameron expelled every Iranian diplomat -- giving them just 48 hours to vacate British soil. Washington's response was, well, flaccid. Our president, apparently speaking without the aid of a teleprompter, made the unusual demand that the Iranian regime should "hold those responsible to task." Whatever that means.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at an international aid conference in Seoul, South Korea, carried the tough talk even further. She described the invasion of the British Embassy as an "affront" and condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."
Meaningless words such as those have become the Obama administration's default position for a string of egregious acts committed by the theocrats in Tehran over the past three years. The O-Team's limp reaction to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report showing significant advances in Iran's nuclear weapons program was so tepid that Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate are actually working together to toughen unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran's Central Bank.
None of this bodes well for a region of the world where U.S. influence and presence diminishes every day. There are now fewer than 12,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq -- and all of them are due to be out by the end of the year.
That's why the Marines here are constantly asking questions that begin with the words "What if." Thinking ahead is a hallmark for members of our armed forces. No one in uniform wants to be assailed for preparing to re-fight the "last war." But it's difficult to be ready for the next fight when all of our military services are facing potentially catastrophic budget cuts.
None of the Marines we spoke with at this "Crossroads of the Marine Corps" is predicting they will have to fight a ground war in Iran. But they also know that the theocrats in Tehran are completely unpredictable.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.