I can't see how the recent fiasco with Iran can be viewed as anything else. The sailors were obviously unprepared for captivity, insufficiently defended and hapless propaganda tools for Ahmadinejad. At the same time, after they had been captured, what option did Blair really have? The UN would not have supported ratcheting up confrontation with Iran; the EU left Britain in the lurch; the war in Iraq is deeply unpopular in Britain and full-scale confrontation with Iran right now would have prompted a collapse in the British government. I'm dubious of Blair's statement that the release was accomplished
"without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature whatsoever,"
but I cannot know for sure. What we can know is that Iran is currently proving to the world just how much it has gained by the disaster of the Bush Iraq policy. Tehran knows that Washington cannot go to war with Iran because the American people and the Congress will oppose it. Tehran also knows that America is stuck in Iraq, prey to every bomb Iran can throw at it and to Shiite militias over which Iran has considerable sway. This is a microcosm of where we are. And for the time being, diplomacy is our only effective way forward.
(Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty.)