FILE – In this July 2, 2012 file photo, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat escorts a passenger ship, near the spot where an Iranian airliner was shot down by a U.S. warship 24 years ago killing 290 passengers in Persian Gulf. While U.S. President Donald Trump angered Iran with his speech on refusing to re-certify the nuclear deal, Tehran won’t walk away from it in retaliation. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

A couple of weeks ago, British Marines boarded an Iranian-owned, Panamanian-flagged tanker in the coastal waters of the British territory of Gibraltar. The tanker was carrying Iranian oil bound for Syria. This was a good thing. Both activities were illegal and to a certain extent Tehran was daring Britain to do anything. The Iranians befouled their man-dresses and rather than telling them to shut up or ignoring them altogether, the so-called government of Theresa May has done its best to mollify the Iranians by assuring them that they were only concerned about the destination of the oil, not its origins.

The Iranians made noises that led observers to believe that they intended to take a similar British ship hostage. As a result, a single British frigate was dispatched to the Persian Gulf. Earlier this week a second one was sent there. Keep in mind this represents over 10% of the surface combatants in the Royal Navy.

Just a short while ago, this weakness was brought to the fore as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, seized a British flagged tanker, the Stena Impero.

To paraphrase Wellington, I hope that scares the Iranians because it terrifies me.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if we see anything but an abject surrender by May’s government on this. Even if they wanted to do something they can’t. When you’re weak and act like you’re weak, you get what you deserve.

This does up the ante for the United States and for CENTCOM. If Iran feels comfortable snatching the ships of a major US ally with no repercussions, it will, as surely as night follows day, escalate the situation.

UPDATE. Did I say escalate?

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