Posted by: bklunk | April 2, 2007

The Enemy of My Friend Is My Enemy

I think that the hope here is that with patience and a steady approach this crisis can be resolved peacefully. 

EU Backs British

This article discusses the “tight and unconditional support of all Europeans” behind the British government and people in regards to the Iranians capturing 15 British sailors who they claim were in their waters.  The European Union supports Britain when they say that the sailors were in the waters around Iraq on a United Nations mandate. 

The United Nations has made a statement saying that “we are talking about the European Union and the United Kingdom belongs to the European Union and the citizens belong to the European Union.  Therefore, the people in Iran do have to understand that if something happens to citizens of the European Union, the European Union reacts in a solidarity manner with the countries and the member states and with the people of that country.” 

Prime Minister Tony Blair also brought up the point that it is useless for the Iranians to “parade” the British prisoners on television because all it does it “enhance people’s sense of disgust,” and therefore does nothing for the public image of the Iranians.

On this last point, I agree.  I’m not sure if the Iranians think that it will improve their bargaining ability or what their intention is besides to try to degrade their prisoners.  The article did mention that the US refused to exchange some Iranian prisoners that they are keeping for the British prisoners.  The US claims that the Iranians being held are members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 

This article was an excellent example of and IGO at work.  It shows how the theory of ‘an attack on one being an attack on all’ works.  The EU claims that it will unite in order to strike back if the citizens of Britain and the European Union are harmed.  Maybe it’s a small comfort to the sailors who are being held, but it is nice to see countries uniting together.  It will be interesting to see how Iran reacts.  I certainly wouldn’t want the whole European Union for my enemy (although, come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t want Iran for an enemy either)!

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  1. Although it should just be a general understanding, I think it is very reassuring that the European Union issued a firm statement in support of the UK in their standoff with Iran. Even if it turns out that the British sailors did in fact cross into Iranian waters (which I highly doubt), it shows that the European Union is able to look past whatever political disagreements it might have with the decisions of its member nations. Especially in a time when the world seems so heavily divided, it must be a comfort to both the British government/people and the sailors and their families to know that their country and the European Union will do what is necessary to be sure that the captive sailors get out alive. I also agree that if Iran is trying to put on a tough face to the world and say, “don’t mess with us,” all that is happening is that it is creating more enemies and alienating nations that may not have been allies, but at least acted civilly diplomatically and economically. Iran seems to be backing itself into a corner. So far, I have yet to hear widespread approval of what Iran is doing. They are creating a groundswell of support for those who are against them. If this is some kind of intimidation to the rest of the world, I hope the rest of the world joins the European Union in their support of the UK. We should be prepared for what could be a long, drawn standoff that could lead to military action if the Iranians so choose to take it that far.

  2. Today, Ahmadinejad met the 15 British soldiers, pardoned them, and vowed to set them free by handing them over to the British embassy in Tehran. However, this was not until he made a spectacle of the event by having these sailors come up to him one by one and shake his hand. It was disturbing watching these captured Britons giving thanks to Ahmadinejad and praising him by saying,” We are grateful for your forgiveness.” I doubt that. Grateful for exactly what? Keeping them hostage for 12 days for supposedly being in Iranian waters? I severely doubt that this occurred, and I agree with the British government that the confessions that Iran has on tape are probably coerced.

    I can’t help but to believe that Iran and most especially Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are using the capturing of the soldiers in order to try to show power in the region. That they can make a great power (one on the Security Council which has sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program) back down. Probably to show they can make them back down on the nuclear issue as well. I realize Tony Blair was in a difficult position, but I wished he would have used stronger diplomatic language. Blair was quoted:

    “To the Iranian people, I would simply say this: We bear you no ill will. On the contrary, we respect Iran as an ancient civilization and as a nation with a proud and dignified history.

    And the disagreements that we have with your government we wish to resolve peacefully through dialogue. I hope, as I have always hoped, that in the future we are able to do so.”

    These are words of appeasement, and believe it is time that the world takes a real hard-line approach against Iran. Not the approach taken in Iraq, that was without world support or coherent strategy, but a world consensus on applying real pressure on Iran. I believe that the world must do all it can do try to work for cooperation, peace, and diplomacy. However, in some matters they may only be one solution, but I don’t even want to dare to mention it.

  3. The fact that the European Union stood behind Britain in this incidence shows the power of IGOs and their role in the world today. As globalization continues to occur today, the economic beliefs of the world are becoming political ones. As different IGOs are set up around the world, including the European Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, countries are increasingly looking to these groups not only for economic benefits, but militarily as well. Although the backing of Britain by the European Union can be considered positive by the US, we also need to examine the potential of this. The United States now needs to look at their actions with European countries in terms of the EU. The expansion of the EU has negative implications for those who believe in a hegemonic US. However, if the US keeps good relations with the EU, it can greatly benefit.

  4. I too agree with the stance that the EU took towards Iran and its significance to the international community. Regardless of the outcome, it showed to the world that the concept of IGOs is now not only increasingly effective economically and politically, but militarily as well. The notion of the EU’s backing of the British sailors was exemplified to the fullest when the chief EU diplomat Javier Solana mentioned in a statement that “they have to understand that when something happens to EU citizens, the EU acts in solidarity,” and that “the EU is not only a group of countries that exchange in trade but is also a political union.” This solid commitment of EU support definitely enhances the political power of Britain, and helps send a strong message. But as mentioned above, this now also means that the US must realize that EU expansion may have negative implications for those who believe in a hegemonic US dominated world. Soon the US might be battling the EU not only economically, but possibly in military advancements as well.

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