- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s embarrassing visit to the Middle East and the weak response to the kidnapping of 15 British seamen, it has been a very bad week for the West and a very good one for jihadists. “I really don’t know why the Iranian regime keeps doing this,” Prime Minister Tony Blair said after Tehran began broadcasting videos of captured British service personnel — who we learned yesterday were bound and threatened with lengthy jail terms if they refused to falsely admit to violating Iranian borders.

Unfortunately, the answer to the prime minister is all too obvious: Because thuggery works. Iran was able to kidnap British service personnel from Iraqi waters and get away with it, driving home the point that Tehran is ascendant and that coalition forces are bogged down in Iraq and unable to respond. In exchange for the release of the sailors and marines, an Iranian operative who had been held in Iraq for several months was released. Tehran was also granted access to five Iranian nationals arrested in January who are apparently connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qods Force — an organization involved in providing weapons and improvised-explosive-device technology to terrorists that kill and maim American troops.

Iran also demonstrated once again how weak and inadequate the United Nations and the European Union are in responding to its hooliganism. Britain asked the EU, Iran’s number one trading partner, to freeze exports — something that might have actually caused the mullahs to reconsider their behavior. But EU members balked at imposing sanctions. “While we are in complete solidarity with Britain, we have to do everything to build in the necessary brakes so that things don’t explode,” said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. “We have to be careful that we don’t go on outbidding each other with sanctions on Iran and talk of freezing relations.”

Britain tried unsuccessfully to persuade the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on Tehran, asking for a council statement that would “deplore” Iran’s detention of the sailors and call for their immediate release. But Russia and South Africa balked. In the end, the obstructionists prevailed and the crisis was resolved on Tehran’s terms.

For her part, Mrs. Pelosi delivered a message of unseriousness to enemies of freedom during her visit to Syria for a meeting with President Bashar Assad, publicly suggesting she had brought a conciliatory message from the Israeli government. The only problem was that Israel had given her no such message. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement politely saying in effect that the speaker was speaking nonsense, and that Syria’s behavior would have to change dramatically before meaningful negotiations could take place.

In all, it was a very bad — even embarrassing — week for the forces of freedom.

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