Thursday, January 12, 2006

You're Going to Your Room, Mister 

It looks like the EU is about to bring the hammer down on Iran:
Foreign ministers of Great Britain, France and Germany (known as the EU3 were set to meet Thursday to agree on a response to Iran's resumption of nuclear activities, with Britain's prime minister saying the West likely will push to refer a defiant Tehran to the UN Security Council.
I'm so glad to finally learn what EU3 is. I'd always assumed it was a rare and completely harmless isotope of Euranium. [rimshot]

Maybe I'm just stuck in parenting mode, but as I read this there's a little voice in the back of my head saying, "if I've told you ONCE, I've told you a THOUSAND times..." Fortunately, I've always believed my lucky number is 1001. But trained, professional scolds like these would never rely on lucky numbers alone to get their message across. They understand, like most parents do, that it's all about consequences. Can we say that together? Consequences. Feels good, doesn't it? Now let's watch and learn:

"I think the first thing to do is to secure agreement for a reference to the Security Council, if that is indeed what the allies jointly decide, as I think seems likely," Blair said.
So wait, I didn't quite follow that. Is the first thing to secure the agreement, or to jointly decide? This seems like it needs a few more committee meetings to really hammer out the sequence of events. But that's not the key issue here. What counts is the consequence, not how high a number you start counting down from before you get there.

So what kinds of things are the jointly-decided allies willing to seek agreement to allow the Security Council to consider discussing? Don't ask me, ask Tony:

"We obviously don't rule out any measures at all," Blair said, when asked about possible sanctions that might result. "It's important Iran recognizes how seriously the international community treats it."
That's what I wanted to hear. It's very important not to rule out any measure. Except of course for something that wasn't jointly decided on, or for which the proper agreement and references weren't obtained. But other than that, NOTHING is off the table.

Deputy [German] foreign minister Gernot Erler argued, however, that a Security Council referral and the threat of sanctions could "lead to an escalation that can get out of control."
Ok, so the Security Council thing, and threats of sanctions, while not so much off the table, well, let's just say they're table decorations. I think Tony should be able to obtain mutual agreement to decide not to escalate things. But what does that leave on our menu of meaningless gestures? Oh, there's are still a lot of empty threats left if they don't toe the line:
I might add the possiblity of taking away Iran's TV priveleges or cutting their allowance, but I wouldn't want to escalate anything.

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