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Britain must respond firmly

Real Clear Politics, March 27, 2007 – Jack Kemp wrote: The captain of the HMS Cornwall, Commodore Nick Lambert, [...] did nothing as six Iranian speedboats seized the boarding party from his ship as they were leaving the freighter they had inspected in Iraqi territorial waters. The 14 men and one woman have been taken to Tehran, where the mullahs are threatening to try them as spies.

U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Erik Horner, executive officer of the USS Underwood, which shares patrol duty in the Shatt al Arab with the HMS Cornwall, expressed surprise that the British let their sailors and marines be taken without a fight. "U.S. Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self defense, but also an obligation to self defense," LtCdr Horner told the British newspaper the Independent. "Our reaction was 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'"

British rules of engagement "are very much de-escalatory, because we don't want wars starting," the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, told the BBC. "Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away," he said. Continued...

CNN, March 28, 2007 - The UK government is demanding the group's immediate release, with Prime Minister Tony Blair saying on Tuesday he was "utterly confident" they had done nothing wrong, and warning of a "different phase" if diplomatic efforts failed to secure their release.

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