Eye for an Eye: UK Caught as Trump's "Useful Idiot" in Dangerous Iran Policy

-edited

The UK fell for a US trap when it seized an Iranian ship on July 4. Iran struck back last Friday.

Useful Idiots

Eurointelligence provides interesting commentary of tit-for-tat ship seizures first by the UK, then by Iran in response.

The extraordinary story behind the capture of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is a cautionary tale on many levels. It has the potential of turning into a major diplomatic calamity for both the UK and the EU.

Simon Tisdall tells the story in the Observer that this confrontation was masterminded by none other than John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Several weeks ago, US intelligence services tracked an Iranian oil vessel headed for the Mediterranean, bound for a refinery in Syria. The Grace 1 sailed under a Panama flag. As it was too big for the Suez Canal, it undertook the longer journey from Iran around Cape Horn and up the Atlantic towards Spain. Washington alerted the Spanish government 48 hours before the tanker was due to enter the Strait of Gibraltar, but without giving any details that the ship might be in breach of US sanctions. The Spanish Navy escorted the ship but took no action at the time. Spain later said it would have intervened if it had been given information that the ship was in breach of US sanctions. 

Bolton instead tipped off the British, who felt compelled to intercept the Grace I as it entered the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, dispatching a force of 30 marines who stormed the ship. 

The US managed to accomplish three things at the same time: escalating the conflict with Iran; dividing the Europeans by pitching the UK against Spain, which distanced itself from the UK manoeuvre off Gibraltar; and turning the UK once again into the useful idiot of US diplomacy. Not bad for a few days' work. But it is also a clear indication of the EU's total lack of preparedness to deal with a hostile Trump administration. 

Unsurprisingly, the EU’s response is divided. Spain is furious about the UK’s unilateral action in international waters off the Spanish coast. The EU’s external-action service, soon to be headed by Josep Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, is silent. Germany and France are backing the UK - at least diplomatically - for now. Russia, Japan and China are with Iran. They do not want to risk oil supplies.

Excellent News?!

Dangerous Trap

The Guardian comments How Trump’s Arch-Hawk Lured Britain Into a Dangerous Trap to Punish Iran

Bolton’s delighted reaction suggested the seizure was a surprise. But accumulating evidence suggests the opposite is true, and that Bolton’s national security team was directly involved in manufacturing the Gibraltar incident. The suspicion is that Conservative politicians, distracted by picking a new prime minister, jockeying for power, and preoccupied with Brexit, stumbled into an American trap.

In short, it seems, Britain was set up. As a result, Britain has been plunged into the middle of an international crisis it is ill-prepared to deal with.

Much of this angst could have been avoided. Britain opposed Trump’s decision to quit the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the trigger for today’s crisis. It has watched with alarm as the Trump-Bolton policy of “maximum pressure”, involving punitive sanctions and an oil embargo, has radicalised the most moderate Iranians.

Yet even as Britain backed EU attempts to rescue the nuclear deal, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary, tried to have it both ways – to keep Trump sweet.

Eye for an Eye

The Financial Times comments on the ‘Eye for Eye’ Ideology Behind Iran’s Seizure of UK Tanker.

Eye for eye and hand for hand is our Islamic ideology. An American eye or a European hand are not more valuable than an Iranian eye or hand,” said Mohammad-Sadegh Javadi-Hesar, a reformist politician.

Lovely.

Nothing But War Will Do

Bolton wants war. Nothing less will do.

To get it, he is willing to radicalize the Iranian moderates and trap allies into doing his immoral bidding.

I am sick of this administration's war policy and treatment of allies.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (32)
No. 1-16
Carlos_
Carlos_

In the mean time wit get this https://www.apnews.com/65890b80d403489c8b1b249cdc954857

LONDON (AP) — Britain announced plans Monday to develop and deploy a Europe-led “maritime protection mission” to safeguard shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz in light of Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the waterway last week.

By EU task force they mean UK warships ...

BTW no way the Spanish government will support any task force specially after what the UK did of Gibraltar. And the other question is why is the UK asking the EU for help patrolling the golf? Is the UK in or out?. BTW the lack of meaningful reaction by Trump is very telling. That's how devil pays those who served him well. Anyone that expects a good trade deal with the US after Brexit is in for a reality check. ... popcorn please

2banana
2banana

The Iranians seized a British-flagged oil tanker in international waters. And has taken British citizens on that ship a hostages.

No ifs, ands or buts about it.

You can argue this was in response to something or it was only fair what they did because something had been done to them.

And when the response comes to Iran, and it will come - they will have no one to blame but themselves.

Matt3
Matt3

This is the least war hungry administration in a long time. Bush W had a bunch and Obama had ramp up in Afghanistan, a war to create a failed state in Libya and the Syrian civil war. I hope that Trump does nothing with Iran and was glad to see him not take action after the drone was shot down. The British and Europeans can secure their own oil shipments.

Onni4me
Onni4me

"Eye for eye and hand for hand is our Islamic ideology." Sounds really reformist and moderate - not. Iran has chosen the path that will bring more misery. They took the action and probably their citizens one day - in not so distant future - have to pay the price. Like it or not, it is as much the fault of Iran than any other party.

Blurtman
Blurtman

Exceptionalism doctrine also applies to parent country.

AWC
AWC

Must keep the wheels of the MIC turning, at any cost. The Welfare/Warfare State needs fodder.

Webej
Webej

Rarely reported in the MSM: "Furthermore, Syria’s port of Baniyas has SBM’s rowed out in 19 meters depth of water from what we can see. GRACE 1 is 22.5 meters deep. She wouldn’t be able to feed the SBM (Single Buoy Mooring) without help of a very long hose. All the more reason we believe she was due for STS". So it was a cowboy action in contravention of international (maritime) law, based on a lie. In a formal sense, the ship cannot be headed to a Syrian port. It may have been intending to engage in Ship-to-Ship cargo transfer, but these things depend on proof and manifest.

wootendw
wootendw

If war comes to Iran via the UK, there will be no Brexit.

Webej
Webej

Eye for eye is one of the most misunderstood phrases. It is already present in Hammurabi's codex (earliest written law), and it is not an exhortation to exact maximum revenge, it sets a limit to any punishment exacted. It was common (as it still is among criminals and warring parties, such as Israel) to exact 10× as much revenge as the original offense, to make sure nobody else even considers similar action and to assuage wounded honor. The legal context presupposes that penalties were exacted by (the family) of the injured party, not by the State. Thus, penalties were often not imposed if the victim did not feel there was anything to gain.

wootendw
wootendw

"I am sick of this administration's war policy and treatment of allies."

I'm fine with ending US alliances. I'm sick of the US foreign policy establishment over the past 30yrs and before. There are millions maimed for life or dead, all over the MENA as a direct or indirect result of US govt's military/foreign policy. 100s still dying every month in Iraq - for NOTHING.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

More spending on domestic and defense. More debt. Carry on.

HubbaBuba2
HubbaBuba2

No worries, Trump can supposedly solve the Pakistan/India 70-yr Kashmire war too! (NOT!) "President Trump today announced, in a meeting with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had invited him to mediate the subject. India heatedly denied having extended such an offer, having long maintained that it will not accept outside mediation...India's official spokesman just issued statement saying: "No such request has been made by Prime Minister to the US President." Truly has "narscositic disorder" - Conway is right. EVERYTHING IS supposedly about him.

Carl_R
Carl_R

Interesting. Where are all the posts claiming this was a false flag action? After the drone was shot down with a missile fired from Iranian territory, there were many false flag posts.

Tengen
Tengen

Iran is playing hardball because they have nothing to lose. If they do nothing, we'll just keep antagonizing them with impunity. Not only would that be humiliating for them, they would have to watch helplessly while their economy suffers.

What Iran is trying to do is force Trump to make a decision, to either leave them alone or declare full-scale war. Trump doesn't want to do either of those things but they're forcing him into a binary situation where he has to make that choice. This strategy could bring destruction to Iran, but it's probably the right move and I don't blame them a bit for it.

lol
lol

Trump is just like Obama ,talks smack,Obama talked chit till he got smack upside the head,started crying and immediately sent a C130 full of cash to Tehran,my guess is Trump will do the same...…..kiss Tehran's ass when no one's lookin,then drop a few tomahawsks in the desert and make it look good......make pretending great again!

goddambigcar
goddambigcar

The UK was enforcing EU sanctions, not US sanctions. Why would the UK enforce US sanctions? And yes, there is an EU oil embargo in place against Syria.

Also, who cares if Spain is mad about what Great Britain does on its own soil? The incident happened in Gibraltar, which last I checked, was territory of Great Britain, not Spain.