"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Escalation by Britain Raises the Stakes with Iran

From the NY Times this morning:

Britain today escalated its dispute with Iran over the capture of 15 British naval personnel by revealing charts, photographs and previously secret navigational coordinates purportedly proving that the British sailors were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters when they were seized six days ago.”

Iran has to date offered two differing sets of coordinates, which is odd but not unexpected.

The article is an indication of an escalation at least in the paper’s chosen title and Merriam-Webster defines “escalate” as:

“intransitive verb : to increase in extent, volume, number, amount, intensity, or scope escalate into a huge ugly one -- Arnold Abrams>”

So I guess the intensifying of the issue is where this word choice comes into play because of their responding with “revealing charts, photographs and previously secret navigational coordinates,” which of course does lend itself to an intensification of the game. But I believe most people consider an “escalation” to be more in line with the example provided by Merriam-Webster; “a little war threatens to escalate into a huge ugly one.”

Providing charts, pictures and coordinates doesn’t strike me as much of a jab but Tony Blair is further raising the stakes by escalating with the following:

“It is now time to ratchet up international and diplomatic pressure.”

This type of “escalation” seems to have the same resolution-like effect of negotiating with Iran with something like, oh say “peaceful nukes.”

Tehran responds (escalates?) while quivering in their boots with:

“it has “sufficient evidence” to prove that the British sailors had penetrated 0.5 kilometers — roughly 500 yards — into Iranian waters.”

Tepid escalation as far as I am concerned and sadly what Tehran has likely been expecting. These remarks or moves are obviously part of the “diplomatic” side of what to do with this escalating situation, which would be the second piece of the Iranian puzzle necessary as put forward by “The Middle East Interest:”

“In dealing with Iran, three options appear to be necessary and sufficient: (1) financial tool; (2) diplomacy; and (3) military.”

Three steps that I agree with, steps according to X which are in line with keeping all options on the table. Unfortunately “(3) military,” is likely just a spill on the table, which can simply be wiped up and ignored once removed. I recently noted with the taking of hostages that (regarding nuclear talks):

Iran has finally made a statement in the ongoing “negotiations,” that can and should be considered as one of their more substantive.”

In my mind (2) diplomacy and (3) military work together hand in hand, in that military options/actions are part and parcel of diplomacy. They, we and others are talking, but to truly talk with results one must speak in a different way to assist Tehran in understanding that all options are most undoubtedly on the table. Then we can allow the talks to seriously escalate.

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