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Churchill's Grandson: UK and USA Face Stalemate in British Hostage Crisis

Reported by Marie Therese - April 3, 2007 -

Yesterday Neil Cavuto devoted the first 25 minutes of his "premiere" business show, Your World, to the Iran hostage crisis. He interviewed three different people on the topic: "Former CIA Officer" Michael Swetnam, "Radio Talk Show Host" Ed Schultz and last but not least the grandson of Winston Churchill. In typical FOX fashion, critical information about the guests was never communicated to the FOX audience. (With video.)

As it turns out, Michael Swetnam is founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based think tank. In addition he is a member of the staff of Potomac Advocates, a pro-busineess lobbying group and has acted as an advisor to the Bush administration on matters of defense and security.

Ed Schultz is a progressive radio talk show host, another little tidbit that FOX neglected to tell its viewers. For some unkown reason, Schultz, who exhibits a fiery, combative personality on his Jones Network radio show, was very subdued during this appearance. He said the right things, but looked and acted so middle-of-the-road that I wondered if it was the same person. I was very surprised at how non-confrontational he was - and was also disappointed that he did not make it a point to say that he is a voice for the progressive side of the political spectrum.

Swetnam (who probably has a lot of war profiteers as clients) argued for confrontation with Iran over the issue of the British hostages, claiming that "diplomacy works in the favor of the bad guys" while Schultz advocated the benefits of diplomatic measures. Curiously, Cavuto did not interrupt Schultz at all, which is quite a departure for the baby-faced V-P of FOX News' business division.

However, it was the guest who followed them that made the most telling points on this topic. Winston S. Churchill III, grandson of his late, great namesake, cut right through the rhetoric and delivered a clear, concise and none-too-comforting picture of exactly where Britain - and by extension the United States - finds itself eleven days into the hostage standoff.

Churchill is a member of the Conservative Party in England. He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1970-1983 and has written spoken extensively about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, most poarticularly the Wahabism of Saudia Arabia. He was an ardent supporter of the Iraq war. With these credentials one would assume that he was scheduled on the Cavuto show in a typical FOX tactic. FOX has a habit of scheduling a conservative with a liberal, then immediately afterwards devoting a whole segment to a different conservative whose ideas tends to negate whatever effect the liberal might have had.

However, yesterday Cavuto did not get what he bargained for. Super-hawkish Churchill turned out to be pretty pessimistic about the current hostage issue and spent a good portion of his interview bashing Tony Blair, who just happens to be a member of the rival Labor Party.

He started right off by lambasting the Blair government for allowing the 15 sailors to be in "two rubber boats" with no air or sea cover in potentially hostile waters. He went on to say that Blair's government has shrunk the size of the British military while using them "shamelessly".

Then Churchill dropped his bombshell, saying "I have to say that listening to your two most recent interviewees, I have to say there's no alternative at this stage for the British government but to seek a negogiated solution."

Cavuto quickly tried to change the subject so he could get back to his original talking point which was to ask whether or not Tony Blair should just attack Iran like Margaret Thatcher attacked the Falklands 25 years earlier.

The fact that the situation a quarter of a century ago was not at all analagous to this latest hostage crisis seemed to have escaped Cavuto's attention. However, one must always remember that, despite his fervent support of Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch favors conservative causes in the UK and elsewhere.* This segment gave Winston Churchill III a bully pulpit from which to denigrate the Labor Party's handling of the war on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Falklands "victory".

Today Iran controls a goodly chunk of the oil that keeps the world economic engine chugging along. Argentina in the 1980s had no such comparable export to use as blackmail, making it an easy target for a trumped-up, feel-good war that appealed to the get-tough conservatives. Ronald Reagan did approximately the same thing in Granada at roughly the same time.

(Comment: As the situation in the mideast skids out of control, it is fascinating to watch how FOX News dredges up the glory days of the 1980s in a desperate attempt to shore up the sagging spirits of its viewership. )

As the interview wound down, Cavuto reiterated a favorite talking point, namely, that Iran created this crisis to jack up the price of oil in order to fill its delpleted coffers.

However Churchill the Third just couldn't sign off quietly, leaving the audience with the image of money-grubbing Iranians toying with British sailors in a grab for filthy lucre. He concluded by giving a terrific and disheartening summation of exactly where the UK and the USA find themselves at this point in time.

CHURCHILL: "But, Neil. you know it isn't only Britain that has a lack of muscle in this regard. Even Uncle Sam, the United States, does not have that many cards to play vis a vis Iran short of taking massive action bombarding the budding nuclear sites. The immediate action of Iran would be to ... sink two or three supertankers in the Straits of Hormuz. The price of oil would go through $150 to $200 a barrel and they could also deploy a further 100,000 Revolutionary Guards into ... Iraq to make our life even more intolerable than it is today."

Cavuto sounded almost defeated in the background.

Churchill ended by noting that a negotiated compromise is the only option open for the British government at this time.

Note: Post amended 4-3-07 to change impression that Murdoch has been supporting the Conservative Party candidate in England. Murdoch has been a staunch upporter of Labor Party member Tony Blair. However, in general Murdoch supports conservative causes. Thanks to loyal News Hounds reader Robert E., who lives in the UK, for the hat tip on this. - MT