A new study from the University of the Blindingly Obvious has found that if one country nicks another country’s ship, the country whose ship has been nicked may be likely to respond by nicking a ship belonging to the country that nicked theirs. According to the authors of the report, the reason for this may be down to something called “the way the world works,” or what is often known as tit-for-tat.
“We began by giving toy ships to children of nursery school age,” said a spokeswoman for the research team, “but with one child being instructed to take a ship belonging to another child, while leaving their own unguarded. What we then observed was fascinating. The child who had had his or her toy ship stolen would then wait for an opportunity to take one from the child who had taken from them. We were gobsmacked. We really didn’t think the world worked like that. But apparently it does.”
In further experiments, researchers wanted to find out what happened when Child A — the one who took the first ship — protested against Child B taking theirs. Again, the results took the researchers by surprise:
“We fully expected that when Child A raised a hue and cry about having their ship snatched, Child B’s conscience would smite them, and they would return the ship that did not belong to them, but letting Child A keep theirs. Yet to our amazement, no matter how much Child A spoke indignantly about the illegality of Child B’s actions, Child B continued to maintain that they would only return the ship if theirs was returned to them at the same time.”
The researchers think that this could give something of a clue as to the behaviour of Iran in hijacking the British-owned ship, Stena Impero. At first, it was thought to be an example of Iran’s unpredictable and destabilising behaviour, yet the researchers are now beginning to think that it may have something to do with the seizure of the Iranian-owned ship, Grace 1, by the British just a couple of weeks before:
“When we first heard the suggestion that Iran’s actions may have been something to do with actions by Britain,” said the spokeswoman, “we dismissed it because at that time we were not fully aware of the concept that actions have consequences. However, our experiments with the children have, we believe, proven beyond reasonable doubt that actions can have consequences. For instance, nicking someone’s ship could potentially result in your own ship getting nicked.”
We tried to contact the British Government for comment on whether they had understood the possible consequences of hijacking an Iranian vessel, including having British own ships nicked, thereby putting the crews in danger of being captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, or even sparking off another potentially catastrophic conflict in the Middle East.
However, the lights appeared to be off, although a spokesman did reply to our email to say that the British Government not only strongly denied that actions have consequences, but also rejected the implication that their foreign policy can in any way be compared to children in a kindergarten. They did, however, confirm that they were awaiting further instructions from John Bolton as to how to proceed, and would be holding meetings of the COBRA committee throughout the rest of the year to establish how to get our ship back without a) starting a war or b) undergoing international humiliation.