March 29, 2007

Blair Not In A Haggling Mood

Tony Blair continued to firm his stance towards the Iranians today, stating that Britain will not bargain for the release of the sailors and Marines that Iran has taken hostage. Instead, he demanded that Iran unconditionally release the fifteen detainees, and suspended all communications with the Islamic Republic except for talks specifically about this crisis:

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.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Ari Larijani has been assigned to handle the diplomacy on this crisis, which gives an idea of how critical the Iranians see this. Larijani started off by claiming that the British government has "miscalculated" by refusing to offer an apology for trespassing in Iranian waters. However, it seems clear that, at least so far, the miscalculation has come from Iran.

Teheran knew better than to try this with Americans, because they know that the US Navy would blow any Iranian boat out of the water before they would allow Americans to get captured. The British, they figured, would play ball, and at least during the initial confrontation, they were correct. Since then, Blair has not followed the playbook -- and he has made it clear that Britain will keep all of its response options on the table. "Further measures" is diplo-speak for high-powered renovation of Iranian ports, at least in theory.

It comes at a strange moment for the Iranians. They had worked with the British ever since the 1979 revolution, even after the US hostage crisis that broke diplomatic ties between Iran and America. Britain had played a moderating influence on American hard-line approaches to Iran, even after the exposure of their nuclear program. They have worked for years to get the US to agree to restoring relations as a part of a solution to the nuclear standoff, even with Iran funding Islamist terrorism around the world.

Now Iran has insulted and injured one of its connections to the West. Britain exported over $700 million in goods to Iran last year and is one of their major trading partners. An embargo by Britain would hurt an already stumbling economy, and it would cause the Iranian people to wonder how many other nations Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to annoy into military action against Iran.

The only miscalculation appears to have been made in Teheran. If they're not careful, they're going to miscalculate themselves into losing a ship or a port as a response to the act of war Iran committed this week.


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Comments (29)

Posted by PersonFromPorlock [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 8:08 PM

Blair's options are to negotiate, use force or write the sailors off. Of the remaining two, I wouldn't bet which he does.

Posted by unclesmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 8:15 PM

I doubt the Iranians are going to get their 5 men back from Iraq, but that sure looks like what they are angling for.

Unlike some others here, I think they picked the wrong fight when they picked on the Brits.

Now the Brits get to find out who in NATO is worth fighting for.

Posted by TomB [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 8:30 PM

We keep forgetting, that Iranians are more like aliens, they don’t know what is diplomatic immunity, why should they care about some “Geneva conventions” any more? It is really a stupidity of infidels for them. In that respect they are totally uncivilized (I suspect they are not civilized in many other respects neither). Quoting specific articles from the Geneva conventions makes them smirk at best. What bugs me most is that next time Ahmadinejad is here there will be some idiotic universities inviting him to make presentations and things and maybe even offering him academic honors (like a PhD in kidnapping, for example).
In the meantime those centrifuges are spinning….

Posted by krm [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 8:31 PM

The Brits have not yet been as feminized as the rest of the EU, but I'm not holding my breath as to them showing the old fashioned Brit spine and toughness.

Posted by Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 8:32 PM

Let's see if Blair and the British government has the intestinal fortitude to follow through in case the Iranians holding the Brits hostage don't release them. Who controls the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who kidnapped the Brits anyway? I have heard and read that it's the mullahs in Iran who control them not the Iranian government itself. So even if Blair wanted to negotiate with the Iranian government, there's no guarantee the group holding the Brits would release them if ordered to by the Iranian government. This seems to be a wildcard that hasn't been addressed too often by the MSM.

Just a thought.

Posted by Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 9:32 PM

I don't know that I am so impressed by Blair's posture here; he could hardly say anything else. Nor am I convinced that Iran knows what it wants to accomplish or that it even wants to accomplish anything.

Maybe it's just the way it's reported over here but there seems to be a certain nihilism in the Iranian approach to everything they say or do these days. We keep searching for the point, the purpose behind their nuclear ambitions, their meddling in Iraq, this latest hostage taking. Because none of it seems especially beneficial to Iran, either in the short or the long run.

In any event, I predict some face saving resolution will be brought to bear in the next few weeks. Perhaps Britain can agree to denounce the "300" movie in return for the release of its people.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:16 PM

Well, the iranians aren't arabs.

Arabs "negotiate" everything. Evertything in the store is for sale.

Here/ Blair "put his foot down."

And, there's an arsenal out there! It's not as if the iranians aren't "staring" into something.

What do the iranians want? They want to HUMILITATE Blair. And, if possible? The Americans.

Blair can't "deal" the iranian hostages in Iraq's hands, either. He doesn't own the keys to the jail. And, he's got nothing, really, to "trade."

"Big show of force," however; which was done as a THEATER PIECE, didn't bring about much of a sea change.

I doubt if the Brit's are taking too kindly to the missives the hostages are being forced to write.

So? On one side? Blair took a "diplomatic" posture. And, then seems to be standing by silently.

Who is going to blink?

Is it possible the iranians figured this would work?

Iran can be blockaded, ya know? There are enough ships out there, that ALL cargo, in and out, can cease to be delivered. Is such a move still far away?

What are the chances that Iran will "fold" and return the hostages anytime soon?

Ah. And, what about the "reason" that could have pushed this operation forward?

The Saudis were holding their big pow-wow in Riyadh. Iran swooped in and took the front page headline space, away.

Was "that" the reason for the kidnapping?

When was the last time Blair visited the White House?

If you had to guess Iran's next move? Would you bet they'll make the hostages scarcer to see? They seem to be controlling the headlines, up to a point.

And, Blair? Other than words, do you expect to see anything else? Or just stages of diplomatic pants dancing, with UN "inspired" paper punishments?

I think, by the way, that the Iranians have SCORED! I've yet to see Blair score very much. But at least, he's not totally backing off, either. Which was half of the Iranian "ploy."

The biggest score? The cost of OIL has gone UP. And, this helps Iran, economically.

They also "gave one" to the Saudis, who thought they were going to "own" the TV scripts. And, Iran side-lined them, as well.

Part of our pickle? Bush has picked the Saudis. Even though we're fighting in Iraq. And, the Iraqis want NO PART OF THE SAUDIs. Gee. That's not so hard to understand.

While we look neither strong nor weak. Just indecisive. Since Maliki understands that Bush has American problems.

And, if Maliki could, he'd send ALL the Sunnis packing!

Still, we're making headway.

We'd make more of it if we just listened to the Iraqi people!

But the bottom line to this predicament? The Saudis have way too much influence with Bush.

Iran isn't as big a problem, once Ahmin-nut-and his dinner jacket, are GONE.

The British hostages are an "annoyance." It isn't 9/11. And, behind the scenes? Why assume Blair even has Bush's ear, here?

Yes. At some point "something" gives. But it's not going to be war. Maybe, we don't know the person who will be "chosen" by Iran to "deal." But it won't be condi, either. Behind the scenes? An oddball assortment of players. Diplomatic fandango.

Posted by DubiousD [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:22 PM

Carl echoes my thoughts. I think it's a mistake to pin the capture of the British sailors on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The mullahs run Iran, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard answers to them. John Bolton could be elected president of Iran tomorrow and it wouldn't make much difference. The real power in that country is behind the throne.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:40 PM

If the Brits are lying about the position of the arrest, then their handheld Garmin GPS devices are lying too. MORE LIKELY, the genocidal terrorist-supporting Holocaust-deniers are lying about the position of the arrest. Is that bigoted of me?


Posted by Tom Holsinger [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:46 PM

Blair is so cute when he stamps his feet and holds his breath.

Given that he is mothballing the Royal Navy, he should offer the mullahs one about-to-be-mothballed ship for each sailor they give back. He won't be using either of them anyway.

Posted by Jim Rockford [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:46 PM

No Captain.

Iran's maneuver is even more brilliant than I thought it was.

Britain's "other measures" resulted in a "sharply worded letter of concern" by the UN Security Council as predictably the Russians protected Iran.

Iran is now threatening once again to execute the hostages, parading them around more on TV, and reneging as usual on the promise to release one of them.

Britain's only chance to get them free is give in to the demand to surrender in Iraq immediately, pay a boatload of ransom money to bust sanctions, and grovel, beg, and grovel and beg some more.

All of which the feminized Tony Blair and Britons will do. There is no appetite in Briitain for anything other than abject Jimmy Carter style begging.

And in the US Rosie to the cheers of her (nearly all female audience) defends Iran, the hostage taking, and 9/11 "Truther" conspiracy theories. The US is almost as feminized as Britain. Nancy Pelosi, Head Mommy, won't allow a House Resolution to support Britain's efforts to get their sailors back.

Weak, appeasing, spineless, and jellyfish. It's in the air.

Both the US and Britain are looking desperately for someone, anyone to surrender to.

Posted by Sam The Dog Trainer [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:48 PM

Since this was an act of war, then should our treaties with Britain be invoked, the US would be able to attack Iran WITHOUT the approval of Congress... if I am reading my Constitution correctly. Treaties cannot be overridden by Congress unless the US abrogates its treaty with Britain, which would be a serious betrayal.

Posted by Fight4TheRight [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 10:54 PM

This whole situation gets my blood pressure up! Watching the staged "confessions", the female prisoner wearing the head scarf, grrrrr!

But here's what REALLY worries me. I swear I read on one site, that the Iranians posted the coordinates where they picked up the British crews and when those coordinates were analyzed, they proved the British were in IRAQI waters! Immediately, the Iranians then changed the coordinates (of course on attempt 2 they actually lined up the capture in THEIR waters).
So my concern is this. These "people" are what?......5 years away from nuclear weapons and half the civilized world is at the mercy of a bunch of idiots who can't even get a set of coordinates right the first time? I mean, when they go to launch their first nuclear missile at Israel, would half of Asia be a bit nervous that the guy in Tehran coding in the target coordinates isn't the same one that submitted these coordinates?


Posted by OldDeadMeat [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 29, 2007 11:16 PM

Y'all should read the comments to this editorial:,,2045066,00.html

Apparently, from the European perspective, once the U.S. is in the wrong, everyone else gets a moral blank check - whatever they do in response is covered by the fact that the U.S. is evil.

Europe (and a portion of the British public) thinks we really are Klingons.

You can be sure that whatever happens or how the hostages suffer, we will be blamed for everything.

In a way Blair is actually free from inhibitions - he is on the way out and he can't do too much to hurt his popularity at this point - the UK and the continent are polarized.

So since we are going to take the blame anyway, and since he has so little to lose, I say give Blair a blank check on U.S. commitment - whatever he needs.

Let him tell Tehran - "release them or else" - let him signal to Tehran that as far as we are concerned, neither Europe nor the U.N nor any other threat will stop the U.S. and the U.K. from crushing Iran.

If this be war, let's make the most of it.

Posted by trapeze [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 12:30 AM

The only sensible solution to this situation is for the Brits to blockade the Iranian ports. This would starve them of the imports that they need and the cash from their only viable export, oil. Sure, the West would "suffer" from higher oil prices but it is an absolute guarantee that the Iranians would suffer many fold more.

As Newt Gingrich said a couple of days ago in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, "Let them walk."

Posted by ed_in_cda [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 1:08 AM

I followed the link posted by OldDeadMeat in the Guardian, was disgusted by the crap they allow and submitted this comment to them (which will likely be rejected as it does not contain the requisite condemnation of Bush and Blair:
"After trying to comprehend some of the comments here, I find myself wondering if perhaps there are certain universities (or religious institutions) in the world which are offering credits in return for exercises in creative writing which are accepted at face value by newspapers such as this. I challenge this website (and others) to publish the real country of origin of each of these bleats based on the author's IP address. If the Guardian's intention is to simply foment unrest and provide a forum for likeminded opponents of its lawfully elected government, then I can easily understand why you will never accept such a simple challenge.
Many of these letters are obviously written by people who have not the least interest in fair play, democracy or the fundamental right of self-determination. Shame on you for facilitating this disgusting travesty which you would have us believe is free speech.
I'm surprised noone has yet taken the opportunity to blame Mr. Blair for the Crusades. Perhaps tomorrow?"

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 5:23 AM

Capt Ed,

You said the US Navy would have blown them out of the water. You are probably correct on that count...but has anyone considered that the Brits may have "planned" for these sailors to be captured?

The Brit Navy is a highly professional organization. They are BETTER than the US Navy is several respects. If the MSM is portraying this event correctly...we are in deep kimchi.

Posted by wade [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 5:36 AM

Seriously, what are Blairs options here? I reckon he knows the Iranians are playing silly buggers and he's going to keep making all the necessary diplomatic noises while the SAS work on plan B - and i think the Iranians know this which is why they are unwilling to allow consular access to the detainees. It's a good job that knowing that something is going to happen is different from being able to stop it.

Posted by wade [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 5:44 AM

something else i just noticed - the picture in the link that RBmn posted doesn't look like the picture of the ship that was boarded that was shown on the news - that ship was allegedly smuggling cars and it's decks were full of them, but in the picture in the link above there are no cars on deck. What if the delay in the british publishing the co-ordinates is because it took them a couple fo days to get the "corroborating evidence" up to scratch? What if the Iranians are right here? Could the British government really use their own sailors as pawns in a game, and if so what outcome are they possibly hoping for? War??

Posted by George [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 7:54 AM

Here's the story that goes with RBMN's image above.
MOD briefing shows Royal Navy personnel were in Iraqi waters

Posted by philw [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 10:55 AM

Major problem, because of the world's need for oil, the threat of possible oil disruption through military action is kicking the price of oil through the roof and will continue to do so. Result - Iran is making big bucks, may billions, over formenting and draging out the crisis. They HAD a cash flow problem in the economy. Now it's fixed.

We really need nukes and other non-petroleum energy alternatives.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 5:33 PM

ahh, the iranians. think how much fun they are going to be once they get the "bomb".

forget sailors--small towns and then cities!

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 30, 2007 11:14 PM

The fact that Blair has turned to the feckless UN for help doesn't bode well for those British personnel languishing in the grip of the ayatollahs. To me, asking the UN for help is a tacit admission that the British government cannot or will not do anything to get them back on its own and is hoping that the UN will grovel enough on Britain's behalf so that the Iranians will relent.

"Join HM Navy and see the world! And, if you get taken hostage... Well, that's just too bad for you!"

Interesting to speculate what the commander of a US destroyer would do under similar circumstances. My personal feeling is that, if he didn't make every effort up to and including "weapons free" to keep his people from being dragged into an Iranian port, then he should be drummed out of the Navy, preferably with a yellow stripe down the back of his tattered uniform.

Unfortunately, I'm sure he'd probably do what the captain of the Cornwall did: call higher headquarters to whine, "What should I do???" in the interests of not getting dinged on his next FITREP for "provoking" an international incident.

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 4:36 AM

Doc Jim...not so sure on the last part of your comment. I've been involved with several FON ops...twice near Iranian "claimed" waters...

The ROE are thoroughly discussed and briefed with the OOD and flight crews. I'd bet last month’s flight pay US sailors would not have been captured without shots being fired. That's why I made the comments above...I find it hard to believe the Brits could have had this happen as reported by the MSM. Could the RN be that hamstrung? If so, the outlook for all of us is not good.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:31 AM


I have to bow to your experience, but I can't help thinking that we'd wind up with a modern-day Chesapeake / Leopard incident or a repeat of the Pueblo. It's not because our sailors don't have guts or the means to defend themselves, but rather because (A) some pencil pusher in Foggy Bottom would forbid the Navy to shoot; or (B) some officer more concerned with his FITREP than his men would pass the buck and by they time he got permission to shoot, it would be too late.

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:42 AM

Doc J, Most of the Ship CO's that I know, would not put his men at risk unless he knew before hand what his responses were limited to...only an idiot would have his VBSS teams that close to Iranian waters without at least contemplating this Iranian move...He would have cleared immediate responses with his superior before sending out the small boats.

P.S. C’mon Doc, we’ve “known” each other long enough…you can call be “swabbie” ;>

Posted by SwabJockey05 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 31, 2007 7:49 AM


Remember Doc...they’re in a "war zone" ... getting combat pay etc...their guard should have been up.

How would a U.S. Captain "know" that the patrol that captured his sailors was "Iranian"? Couldn't they have been some other ME lunatics wearing Iranian uniforms...and flying Iranian colors? No, I'm certain that under the given circumstances, a U.S. Captain would not have given up his men without some rounds going down range.

However, your concerns are noted and...unfortunately valid.