L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

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28 March 2007 Blog Home : March 2007 : Permalink

Limited BBC Analysis on Iran

The BBC has a fairly long analysis article on the issue of Iran and the British Military Personnel who have been captured by the Iranians. You can tell that the analysis is going to be limited when you read:

So Tony Blair might well ratchet up the language to sound tougher if this goes on. He has already said that the row will move to a "different phase" if there is no breakthrough.

So what options are open to him?

Force is out. It is seen as counterproductive. Instead, Mr Blair could release the data, from GPS satellite locators and radar traces, which should show where the British party was when it was taken.

Why is "force" not on the agenda? Why is it counterproductive? Simply stating this as a fact is not exactly informative. Indeed the options are clearly limited since, as the article notes Iranhasn't exactly responded constructively to other non-force options. In fact the article makes it fairly clear that since "force is out" there is really only one option: grovelling appeasement. And even that is not necessarily going to be successful.

However, if Britain creates a lot of sound and fury, Iran can respond. It is good at playing that game and the risk is that the Iranian government would simply exploit the incident for even longer.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a master of rhetoric and riposte. He has shown a ready defiance of the UN Security Council over Iran's enrichment of uranium. He thrives on a confrontation.

Hence ruling out force seems to be akin to trying to fight hand-to.hand with one hand tied behind your back. Sure you may manage a one handed judo throw and defeat your opponent but the chances of success are fare higher if you can use both hands. I don't say that force need involve a full scale attack on Iran, although if the location of the prisoners is identified a raid to remove them and destroy the place they have been held would seem reasonable, but I do think that a number of forcefull measures could easily be taken. For example enforcing a blockade on petroleum imports and inspecting all ships leaving Iranian waters with extreme vigor and destroying/capturing at any Iranian craft that attempts to interfere in these measures. Other measures could include asking the Iraqis to start trying and then executing some of the 300+ Iranians who have been caught in Iraq doing things they shouldn't. Sure this has a disadvantage in that it may provoke harm to the 15 captured sailors, but it might well stop Iran from doing the same again which is, in my opinion, far more important.

In fact it is worth pointing out that the "analysis" article barely mentions reasons why Iran should have decided to capture these prisoners. It does mention that Iran might want a prisoner swap but fails to mention all the other details about Iran funding Iraqi militias, the supply of weapons etc. etc. Even if you read this timeline of British-Iranian relations you have no idea that Iran has been accused multiple times of meddling in Iraq and particularly in Basra.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin