Obviously you can't help but be happy for the families of the British sailors and marines who (apparently) are being released by the Iranians. That being said, this is yet another disaster for the West at the hands of the mullahs. Yet again, Iran gets to wantonly violate all international norms, all accepted standards of conduct among nations. It emerges from the experience completely unscathed. Perhaps there was no quid pro quo. Perhaps. I doubt it, but perhaps. Even if that is the case, Iran still comes out of this as the winner. They spat in the face of the West and walked away without a scratch. Call it counting coup on a grand scale.
While we're at it, let's talk about the petty indignities too. The British have to deal with the spectacle of their servicemembers spouting the mullah's line. They have to deal with being lectured by the Iranians about the fact that one of the sailors is a mother (the mullahs really know how to treat a lady, afterall). Finally, take a gander:
Notice anything? All the hostages/prisoners/detainees (pick your term) are wearing civilian clothing. The Iranians took their uniforms and are turning them loose in the civvies they were so thoughtful to provide. Now, maybe I'm the only one who thinks so, but I think this is a form of neutering. It is turning a warrior into a victim.
While the whole West shares vicariously in it, the failure here is primarily British. Their sailors and marines were taken. It fell to them to take the lead and they did so in a very wobbly way. I have no doubt that a more assertive policy would not have met with the support of their European "allies." I would hope that it would have found American support. Whether or no, the British should have taken a sterner line in all this. They didn't have to start lobbing missiles, but it would have been nice to be able to show a little teeth. Even in their reduced state, the British could have done so (whether they will still be able to do so a year from now is another matter). They chose not to.