“I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen,” British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Saturday. “What we want is a way out of it.” This position arose because somewhere along the way from Waterloo to Operation Musketeer and beyond, the Brits learned to embrace political correctness at the expense of the kingdom’s warrior reputation. And as the current standoff drags on, the picture only gets darker. The more placid on-air “confessions” from seamen or quiet concessions that may come from the British government, the more enemies of the West can confirm that the once-mighty U.K. is now easy to push around. And the spread of that mentality won’t just stop on the other side of the pond. Britain needs to realize that pussyfooting around in this perilous situation is putting her allies and “special relationship” partner in danger as well. Because here’s the deal with the Iranian regime: They’re already screwed at the Security Council. They don’t plan on abandoning their nuclear “energy” (cough cough) program, and therefore risk nothing in bargaining power (because they, er, don’t care to bargain) at the U.N. by means of their aggressive action against the U.K. They gain prestige and allies among rabid haters of the West, the same folks who jumped up and down in glee when the Twin Towers came crashing to the ground. Small victories beef up grander schemes, such as a Tehran-style mullahocracy in Iraq. And there is still a possibility that the 15 Brits will be tried for spying, charges under which they could face the death penalty. Every time Iran pulls in talks with Britain representatives, they push even harder the next minute, loudly accusing the U.K. of not wanting to take responsibility for “illegal entry.” “Another day, another chance for Iran to heap on the humiliation,” an Evening Standard headline dryly read on Friday. The British military may currently be 15 sailors and marines short in the gulf, but the losses for the once-mighty empire and the security of her allies may be immeasurable the longer this farce drags on. Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. Write to her by e-mail her at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Iran fired its shot across the bow, and came away unscathed. Since seizing 15 British sailors and marines again on the river March 23, Iran has aired clip after clip of the bunch supposedly confessing to the alleged aquatic trespassing. Britain called Iran’s latest version of reality TV “propaganda” and “outrageous.” Furthermore, Iran has aired the videos on their Arabic-language channel rather than Farsi in a clear attempt to stir the passions of anti-West Arabs across the region. Once they see Iran prove Britain’s prowess to be pass they’ll begin to feel all shiny and new again, undoubtedly having renewed confidence in the probability of jihad’s success. Suffice to say it’s no longer 1921, when the British Empire was grand pooh-bah over a quarter of the world’s population. “Britain’s hegemonic power has passed,” Iranian member of parliament Hossein Eslami boldly declared last week, when he also stated the sailors should be tried. But a shriveled empire shouldn’t be enough to make Iran think that it can easily have its way with the United Kingdom. History is enough, la 2004. Is Britain now choosing to be the U.S. circa 1979, when radicals stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held hostages for 444 days as Jimmy Carter just wished the crisis would end on its own accord? In anticipation of a political conference in Rome, I recently compared prices of airlines flying out of LAX and quickly zeroed in on Swiss Air, with a low price and only one stopover in Zurich. Plus, I theorized, what terrorist is going to attack a Swiss plane? What, would they think they could provoke a war with Switzerland? All in all, a pretty safe bet. A similar train of thought probably went through the minds of Iran’s seafaring Revolutionary Guards in the Shatt al-Arab waterway week before last. If you’re going to grab some troops the eve of the U.N. Security Council passing more sanctions over your unapologetic nuclear “energy” program, why grab Americans when they’ll get all cowboy and actually fight back? Go for the Brits. It’s not like they’ll go all Falklands on you anymore. After all, Iran pulled this Shatt al-Arab hostage nonsense back in 2004, and the only weapon wielded at the mullahs was terse, haughty language. In that incident, three British patrol boats carrying eight Royal Navy sailors were seized by the Iranians. The soldiers were paraded blindfolded on TV, but were released three days later.