What happened to “we win, you lose?”

I know this was “last week’s news,” but my blood is still boiling about my country being led around by the nose by Iran. A constant refrain on social media in the days following the release of U.S. Navy sailors apprehended in Iranian waters was what if it was reversed? In other words, “what would have happened if the U.S. had captured Iranians in U.S. territory?” A number of people have chimed in that, of course, the U.S. would capture those Iranians, interrogate them – and maybe even use them as bargaining chips of some sort. That may be right. Others have (rightly) observed that the U.S. certainly would not have filmed their capture and a forced apology and released those images to the media for propaganda purposes.

Too few, in my mind, have answered these questions correctly, though. What would have happened? WHO CARES?!

Once upon a time, openly provoking the U.S. military this way would have been met with a response that would strongly discourage repeat performances. Once upon a time, we could capture your guys in our territory, but you wouldn’t think for a minute about responding with anything other than a complaint and a strongly worded press release. Once upon a time the uncompromising might and righteousness of the United States wasn’t something to be trifled with – and it didn’t matter who was right or wrong, just “don’t mess with the United States.”

But today, it’s not politically correct and not sufficiently “internationalist,” to say we don’t just prefer that double standard, but that we demand it. Unfortunately, last week, as has so often been the case lately, the greatest fighting force the world has ever known stood down. We accepted provocation and humiliation with a shrug, with barely a mention of the incident by our so-called leadership. Who are we, if this is what we’ve become? What good is our strength, if no one believes we’ll use it to protect ourselves?

I could happily accept a United States that is so respected abroad as to render these sorts of incidents so foolish as to never happen, but we all know that’s not life in the real world. Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda… they will never respect our tolerance or forbearance… but they can be made to fear our wrath. They can be made to understand that we always believe that we win and they lose.