Saturday, March 31, 2007


Anglo-American warbloggers have decisively given up on Tony Blair because of his failure to declare war on Iran over the 15 sailors. A representative sample from National Review --

[Iain Murray] So, even if Tony Blair had the resolve, he couldn't do anything (except perhaps nuke Tehran, which might be seen as a bit of an overreaction).

And he can't even get his beloved U.N. to say tut-tut while wagging its finger.
Blair has made me ashamed to be British this week.

[Mark Steyn] Look at the timeline 25 years ago: On April 2nd, the Argies seized the Falklands, which were all but undefended.

On April 5th a British task force of over 100 ships and 28,000 men sailed from England for the South Atlantic. In three days! Talk about a rush to war, eh?

Furthermore, because the British were known to be contemplating a credible response, the UN – instead of twittering about “grave concern” – passed a resolution on April 3rd ordering Argentina to withdraw from the islands.

As it happens, Blair had unintentionally set out his criteria for military action (removal of Saddam excepted) in an interview with Simon Schama one day before the sailors were captured. Here's the audio file and here's the transcript (which mislabels the comment we're about to discuss as being from Schama when it was from Blair). The topic was the aforementioned Falklands and Maggie's decision to recapture the islands by force --

Prime Minister:
That is for sure. When you look back on it and you talk to the people who were there at the time, and as I say I wasn't even in Parliament at the time, but I think it took a lot of political courage actually to do that.

Simon Schama:
But you wouldn't claim, by way of collateral, that the end of the military regime ... it clearly wasn't an aim but it was obviously ...

Prime Minister:
No, but it is interesting, if you wanted to see it, there may be some parallels in what happened in Kosovo later, although it is a different set of circumstances, but also in the end the military intervention in Kosovo brought down Milosevic. And the interesting thing is that when you stand up to that type of dictatorship, and Galtieri as it was at the time, the consequences then are severe for that dictatorship.

Simon Schama:
Especially in a Latin American Republic really ... masses of muscle flexing

Prime Minister:
Yes absolutely.
And it is a very, it is interesting because although it is always looked at as if it was simply to do with the question of British sovereignty, and obviously that was the principal reason because it was British territory, but nonetheless even if you take it apart from that, it was perfectly obvious there was only one way you were going to get it back, and that was by military action, and it was perfectly obvious also that irrespective of the debate about the Falklands it was completely the wrong thing of General Galtieri to do and it was right to make it be reversed.

Thus Blair essentially states two criteria for going to war: a primary one of a direct challenge to sovereignty, and a secondary one of the likelihood that military reaction could precipitate a change in leadership in the rival power.

The Iran crisis likely fails both. As brazen and willfully provocative as the capture and subsequent treatment of the sailors is, it's not an annexation of British territory. And an attack would likely strengthen, not weaken, the Iranian leadership. The Falklands comparison is tempting, especially for those who want a war with Iran anyway. But for better or worse, Blair's approach is consistent with a philosophy that he set out before the incident happened.

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