Did botched U.S. raid lead to Iran crisis?

Drudge has linked to a story by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent that blames the United States for Iran’s taking of the 15 British hostages. According to the Independent, Iran’s hostage taking was in retaliation (“was the starting pistol”) for the American seizure of five Iranian intelligence agents in Kurdistan this past January. The Independent story is a remarkable example of misdirected blame that is the perfect accompaniment of Britain’s martial self-abnegation.
The Independent story implies that the seizure of hostages is a new tack for the Iranians. Going back to the Iranian seizure of American hostages in 1979, kidnapping is virtually the founding act (“the starting pistol”) of the Iranian regime. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — Iran’s kidnapper-in-chief, who was a leader of the student group that took the American hostages in 1979 — could explain it all to the Independent. But he thrives on ignorance.
Only this past September, Iranian forces operating inside Iraq “lured a joint US/Iraqi border patrol unit into a trap, ordered them to remain where they were, and opened fire on them with pistols and grenade launchers. The Americans fought back and got away.” Michael Ledeen dates the change in American policy toward Iran in Iraq to this event, originally reported two weeks ago by US News & World Report here.
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