Who were the real winners in the navy hostages affair? That seasoned analyst, Dennis Ross argues that the Teheran hardliners actually came off worse:
While some observers like John Bolton declared that, in the crisis, Ahmadinejad "scored a political victory, both in Iran and internationally," the facts suggest just the opposite. First, note that the Iranian press did not even mention the crisis for several days after the British sailors were seized: This was hardly a case in which the regime was trying to whip the public into a frenzy. On the contrary, it seemed to downplay the issue. Second, after the release of the sailors, Ahmadinejad was roundly criticized in many Iranian newspapers, with several articles making the point that the crisis cost Iran greatly without any corresponding benefit... It is hard to escape the conclusion that Ahmadinejad was a loser in the crisis, and that other Iranian leaders decided they needed to cut their losses.
And what lessons can be drawn about the regime's nuclear intentions? Again, Ross detects encouraging signs:
The most important is that, notwithstanding Ahmadinejad's declarations about the irreversibility of the nuclear programme... the issue of Iran's nuclear future is not resolved. It is not ultimately in his hands or the hands of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]... In the classic terms of statecraft, the sticks need to be potent enough to concentrate the minds of Iranian leaders on what they have to lose; and the carrots need to be offered at the point when Iranian leaders are both looking for a way out and an excuse for taking it. Are we artful enough to do both?
BTW, If you need light relief, Iowahawk's spoof report has the goods:
The surprise morning release of the 38 sailors and marines ended a tense three-day standoff between the British government and a breakaway Lutheran militia group that controls large swaths of the notorious "Manure Triangle" region spanning Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.