here's a perfectly straightforward explanation for the whole episode: The Brits were laying down a network of sensors to detect the movement of ships toward major Iraqi oil terminals. The Iranians considered that a bit of a threat. So they attacked.
And why, you might ask, did the Iranians feel threatened?
Because they were planning to attack (or have their surrogates attack) the oil terminals, silly.
And why attack the oil terminals?
Because they want to defeat President Bush in November, and they figure if they can get the price of oil up to around $60 a barrel, he'll lose to Kerry.
Not to mention a considerable side benefit: At $60 a barrel, they can buy whatever they may be lacking to get their atomic bombs up and running.
It's not that hard to understand the mullahs once you learn to think as they do, and understand their hopes and fears.
Leaving aside the fact that any Iranian action towards Iraqi air terminals would hardly be invisible to the US military forces monitoring the entire region, the idea that an attack on Iraq's barely-functioning oil infrastructure would somehow raise oil prices to $60/bl makes no sense. Ledeen weakly throws the kitchen sink (ie, Iranian nukes) into the argument as a desperation scare tactic to boot. The entire argument is so absurdly self-serving and tailored to promote the "terrorists want you to vote for Kerry" meme that it's the nail in the coffin of any authority he once had on the topic of Iran. Certainly Ledeen's ability to "think as they do, and understand their hopes and fears" is atrophying at an alarming pace as the election season nears.
Oh, and Iran released the British crew, concluding that they were telling the truth.
My friend Dan Darling is currently working for Ledeen, and has his (valid) reasons to idolize him, but I can't take Ledeen any more seriously than I do Michael Moore for depth of analysis. It's sad to see someone with a fine sense of analysis reduced to propaganda.
(not that propaganda doesn't have its place - but then so does counter-propaganda. So in that sense I am quite pleased we have Michael Moore around).