MAY 22 2007
It seems we have now entered a new and distinct phase in global
politics, not unconnected with the general phenomenon of
'globalisation' which modern communications and transport in the hands
of government, business and ordinary citizens has brought about. It is
one of the Undeclared War.
Governments or 'regimes' such as Iran allow (either because they
endorse or cannot prevent) elements of their citizenry, industry and
military to pursue their own plans and operations. They may of course
go further and stimulate such action; but the essential point is that
it is deniable. We should not be so shocked: after all many years ago
the British Empire expanded through the use of independent initiatives
and quite recently the US turned a blind eye and/or allowed right hands
to do what the left hand did not know.
However, now that this has become a standard operating procedure
throughout the Middle-East and parts of Asia, with modern weapons and
technology in the mix, we need to establish some protocols and modi
operandi. We are not officially at war with Iran. After they foolishly
nabbed one of our customs inspection teams and had to give them back
ignominiously by concocting a ridiculous story which our sailors had to
play along with (equally ignominiously), we should have carried on
exactly as before with the customs inspections. Unfortunately the
British media, run by psychologically and educationally
challenged owners and editors, decided that we should cease operations
or only continue if armed to the teeth. Big mistake. We should have
replaced the crew and continued exactly as before, equally vulnerable
but with the prepared backup of a retaliatory strike, should they have
repeated their behaviour, of serious consequence. That would have taken
us down a very much better route than threats and menaces and the
implication that at some time in the future Iran would have to be
nuclearly neutered. It would force Iran either to declare war the UK or
to support UN operations and our part in carrying these out.
There are other governments who use the undeclared war as a means
running with both hare and hounds and holding onto power by one means
or another. Sometimes it is relatively harmless, but the time has come
when some transparency and formality is called for..In short, now that
the idea of undeclared war as an acceptable method of conducting
foreign policy has gone global, it will have to be explicitly defined
This is true of all human activities. As soon as any behaviour, fashion
or technique use to obtain advantage becomes universal it is unusable.
Very annoying for the latest comers of course to be told 'game over'
but that's the way it is. We should therefore behave, towards all
nations not at war with us, as if we were at peace with them. We should
be open and vulnerable, while
remaining vigilant and alert. The alternative is to arm and
protect everything, including trains, boats, planes and even buses full
of tourists. Only by being vulnerable can we build mutual trust.
"Trust, but verify" was one of Ronald Reagan's wise counsels. The other
was: "You can get anything done in this world providing you don't
insist on taking the credit for it".