Six Royal Marines and two Royal Navy sailors were intercepted in Iraqi waters, forcibly escorted to Iranian waters, arrested, paraded on TV blindfold, obliged to confess wrongs and recite apologies, and eventually released. Their three boats are still being held by the Iranians.
Mullahs 8, HMG nil.
The curious thing is the lion that didn't roar. Tony Blair has views on everything and is usually happy to expound on them at length - if you'd just arrived from Planet Zongo and were plunked down at a joint Blair/Bush press conference on Iraq or Afghanistan or most of the rest of the world, you'd be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the Prime Minister's doing 90 per cent of the heavy lifting and the President's just there for emergency back-up. Yet, on an act of war and/or piracy perpetrated directly against British forces, Mister Chatty is mum.
Likewise, Jack Straw. The Foreign Secretary goes to Teheran the way other Labour grandees go to Tuscany. He's got a Rolodex full of A-list imams. When in the Islamic Republic, he does that "peace be upon him" thing whenever he mentions the Prophet Mohammed, just to show he's cool with Islam, not like certain arrogant redneck cowboys we could mention. And where did all the ayatollah outreach get him? "We have diplomatic relations with Iran, we work hard on those relationships and sometimes the relationships are complicated," he twittered, "but I'm in no doubt that our policy of engagement with the Government of Iran… is the best approach."
Even odder has been the acquiescence of the press. If pictures had been unearthed of some over-zealous Guantanamo guards doing to our plucky young West Midlands jihadi what the Iranian government did on TV to those Royal Marines, two thirds of Fleet Street (including many of my Spectator and Telegraph colleagues) would be frothing non-stop.
Instead, they seem to have accepted the British spin that there's been no breach of the Geneva Conventions because the Marines and sailors weren't official prisoners of war, just freelance kidnap victims you can have what sport you wish with.
Why didn't Bush think of that one ?
What did Libby Purves say again ?
She was discussing Blair with "a friend, a retired military man of mild and amiable disposition", who told her "you see, the trouble with Tony Blair is that he's terribly good when it isn't his problem". The more Libby pondered this, the truer it seemed. She thought of his support for GWB after Sept 11, his Labour Conference speech when he abolished world poverty, saved Africa, built the New Jerusalem and caused the lion to lie down with the lamb, the graceful way he dealt with Prescott's pugilism - when the problem wasn't his he was assured and competent. She thought then of the fuel protests and his dealings with Sinn Fein/IRA over decommissioning, concluding that the only time he dithers is exactly when he shouldn't - when the buck stops on his desk.
We Bush warmongers have grown fond of Mr Blair: often, he's a better salesman for American policy than the President. But in the Shatt al-Arab incident for once he was on his own, and Britain's Number One seed was unable to return a single volley. Iran is emboldened, and that's bad news for everyone else.