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March 29, 2007

I Was Wrong: Blair Will *Not* Negotiate With Iran

Getting a little Churchillian:

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that Britain would not negotiate over British sailors and marines held hostage by Iran. In an interview with ITV News, Blair again called for the unconditional return of the 15 Royal Navy personnel who were seized by Iranian authorities last week.

Britain's Sky News meanwhile said Iran had released another letter by captured sailor Faye Turney, this time calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq

"The important thing for us is to get them back safe and sound, but we can't enter into some basis of bargaining," Blair said. "What you have to do when you are engaged with people like the Iranian regime, you have to keep explaining to them, very patiently, what it is necessary to do and at the same time make them fully aware there are further measures that will be taken if they're not prepared to be reasonable.

"What you can't do is end up negotiating over hostages; end up saying there's some quid pro quo or tit for tat; that's not acceptable," he said.

That's the official position, and I'm surprised at the toughness of it. I still expect there actually is some "negotiating" going on backstage.

Let me channel Andrew Sullivan and say it reflects well on Blair's character if he chooses to negotiate for the freedom of the 15 seamen, but it also refelcts well on his character if he chooses not to.

Allah reads this as a valiant refusal to negotiate while backing that up with threatening language about more talking should the Iranians not comply.

I don't think that's quite it. Blair is choosing his words carefully, obviously. He just promised "a different phase" in the crisis should the seamen not be released promptly; now he says the Iranians must be made "fully aware that further measures that will be taken if they're not prepared to be reasonable."

Sure, spokesmen immediately rush out to say he's not talking about military options. But the words themselves suggest the possibility of a military option, and they have been selected to as to imply just that.

The Rules say that Britain cannot go to war, except reluctantly. He's abiding by The Rules.

America just sent a fairly impressive tidal wave of naval might into the Persian Gulf. While some officials say off the record it's a show of force hastily ordered in response to the kidnapping of the British seamen,

the Bush administration would not say publicly that this is the case.

So we're doing the same thing, sort of. A big part of diplomacy is just plain old lying.

Also from Hot Air -- the female sailor's letter didn't just claim Britain had strayed too far into Iranian waters. It also went on to opine that Britain had strayed too far onto Iraqi soil:

Iran has published another letter allegedly written by Leading Seaman Faye Turney in which she supposedly calls for British forces to withdraw from Iraq.

Well! She's certainly become a little chatterbox, hasn't she? Suddenly deciding to announce it was time for Britain to withdraw from Iraq. And she came to this conclusion without being coerced by the Iranians at all, whom she claims are treating her quite nicely.

I guess she just needed some time off to really think about the issues, huh?

So the Mullahs are now bullying a woman into propagandizing for them.

That should win them friends -- on the left, that is. Amanda Marcotte, I'm sure, will praise the Iranians for helping this misguided woman finally "find her voice."

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posted by Ace at 03:07 PM

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