How should we assess Britain’s success in its diplomatic efforts to release the hostages? Iran, more bellicose and intransigent, is now determined to use them as predigree prisoners for propaganda purposes and possibly put them on show-trials. The key to success is acquiring more levers to influence Iranian behaviour and exact a price for their actions.
Britain cannot bring military force to bear, due to the underfunding of our armed forces. We are unable to acquire a united diplomatic front following the debacle at the United Nations. Our sailers’ plight will not be met with a range of new sanctions. At a meeting of foreign ministers in Europe, there was strong condemnation on the bogpaper press release that all such meetings issue. None of the Member States were willing to entertain the notion of real action: freezing export credit guarantees to Iran. Let us hear their reasons for turning their back on their ally:
EU foreign ministers meeting in Germany called for the sailors to be freed but ruled out any tightening of lucrative export credit rules. The EU is Iran’s biggest trading partner. British officials are understood to have taken soundings on economic sanctions before the meeting but found few takers.
France, Iran’s second-largest EU trading partner, cautioned that further confrontation should be avoided. The Dutch said it was important not to risk a breakdown in dialogue.
Republicans in DC have rightly branded the government’s dependence on international law and sanctions as “pathetic“. Rightly, in this instance. The government prefers to maintain its reputation for upholding international law and ruling out other strategies that could exert greater influence in Iran, such as interdicting their oil trade. Blair’s prissiness in holding the moral high ground is achieved by making all the right noises and going through the (bowel) motions. Yet, after the EU and the UN, the cupboard is bare. What next, Mr Blair?