Iran Stands Down

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been equipping “aid ships” to sail to Gaza, and announced that it would try to break Israel’s naval blockade by sending war ships to accompany the “aid” vessels. That drew a strong response from Israel, which said that it would treat any such conduct as an act of war–which, of course, it is. Michael Ledeen explains what happened next:

Iran has cancelled sending an aid ship to the Gaza Strip which had been scheduled to set sail for the Palestinian territory on Sunday, state news agency IRNA reported.
“The trip is not going to happen,” Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary general of the International Conference for the Support of the “Palestinian” Intifada, an Iranian body set up by parliament, told reporters on Thursday, IRNA said.
He said the ship had originally been due to depart on Thursday, but “due to restrictions from the occupying Zionist regime, it was decided that this ship would leave on Sunday. But now the trip is not going to happen.” …
“The Zionist regime has made the blockade a political issue and we do not wish to politicise this kind of humanitarian aid because the most important thing for us is to break the blockade of Gaza,” he said.
He said the voyage was cancelled as Israel “had sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on that regime and it will confront it,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

That’s clear enough, isn’t it? Israel said that if any Iranian ship tries to enter Israeli waters, it will be treated as an act of war. So the Iranians bagged it.
Now ask yourself this question: how would the regime react if the tough guy in the White House said, “If we find any evidence of Iranian support for the terrorists killing Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan, we’ll consider it an act of war and will react accordingly”? …
Lots of lessons here:
1. They talk a lot but they’re afraid, profoundly afraid (can you imagine the RG generals talking to the Supreme Leader? “But Excellency, they will kill us all…”);
2. They will not risk direct confrontation, because any defeat will encourage the Iranian people to bring them down;
3. They talk a lot about the glories of martyrdom, but the martyrs they have in mind are the Arabs they send into battle or on suicide missions against us;
4. The trouble with American leaders is that they want to be loved, whereas a healthy dose of fear will do wonders for the region.

I would only add that, while I have seen no follow-up to this news story, it is possible that the presence of eleven American naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean helped the mullahs to make up their minds. I would be happy to give President Obama partial credit for the happy outcome–so far, at least–if only he would draw the appropriate conclusions regarding the relative efficacy, in foreign policy, of speeches and frigates.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.