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John Gibson: What's taking Brits so long to take action against Iran?

Reported by Chrish - March 28, 2007 -

Gerard Baker from The Times of London (sister corp. to FOX, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., though not identified as such) was the guest today 3/27/07 to discuss the situation involving Iran's holding of 15 British sailors. Iran charges they were in Iranian waters illegally and is questioning them; British Prime Minister Tony Blair is demanding their release. The crux of the matter seemed to come in the last sentence, when Baker said that Great Britain could not go after Iran militarily alone, but with the aid of its allies, including the US, those options are there.

Iran has said they will allow Great Britain access to the sailors after they finish their interrogation. Blair hopes they realize "soon" that they must release the sailors, or the talks will move into a "different phase."

Gibson appeared positively pained as he said that Tony Blair's threats seemed "a little on the weak side." Baker said they sounded weak because he is coming from a position of weakness: there's not really much he can do. They are waiting for the outcome of the "obviously rather bogus investigation the Iranians are supposedly conducting," which bears resemblance to another incident three years ago. The question is, according to Baker, is this all for show, or is it an escalation on the part of Iran?

Gibson planted the seed and Baker watered it, that this action by Iran is pay-back for Britain's role in pushing for more UN sanctions against Iran's nuclear ambitions. And/or it could be a test to see how willing the British are to follow through on Tony Blair's threats.

The lone woman sailor was singled out for highlighting, and Gibson asked if we knew anything about her? As it happens she was interviewed just last week by a BBC reporter who was on board her ship. Putting a human face on her has, to some extent, raised the temperature a bit in Great Britain (as her face stayed on the screen, in a close-up still picture). She's a very sympathetic figure and people are wondering why is this allowed to happen? The pressure is starting to grow, and if the Iranians don't act in a few days, there'll likely be calls to take it to a higher level - which he hastens to clarify doesn't necessarily mean military action, maybe more concerted diplomatic efforts.

Gibson asked the 64 billion dollar question: do the Brits have a military option here? Baker replied that with the hostages - "which is clearly what they are " - being taken to Tehran, options are limited although Britain has Special Forces in the area. Britain doesn't have a military option to get the immediate release of the sailors, but they do have warships in the Gulf and they're backed by the US, who has two aircraft carriers in the Gulf. There is certainly the option of increasing the pressure on the Iranians to "abide by international law, let these people go, do what you're supposed to do, or face serious consequences." So, he thinks Britain alone does not have military options, but with their aliies, specifically the US, they do.

Comment: More war cheerleading by News Corp and echoed by another arm of News Corp to give the impression that people everywhere are on the same page, when it's all just one big page photocopied and papered all over like fliers in a parking lot. And call me cynical, but trotting out a pretty young woman (who was so conveniently interviewed and is becoming an icon for the incident, a la Jessica Lynch) is rank propaganda.