Liam Fox reinforces his hawkish credentials today in a speech to the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. Dr Fox, Shadow Defence Secretary, is in USA as part of a Conservative delegation that includes William Hague and George Osborne.
He says that the military option must remain open in the west’s dealings with Iran. Dr Fox criticises the British Government and the EU for ruling out the possible use of force:
"To permit a state in this volatile region to develop a nuclear weapon which it has the evident capability to deliver against a range of targets would be to take a huge risk. When that state is under the control of a regime whose leader has called for Israel to be wiped “off the map” – a regime which is already destabilising neighbouring Iraq – that is a risk too far. Clearly, the diplomatic route must continue to be pursued. Iran should be referred to the Security Council. Every pressure must be brought. But it was wrong for the European Union’s foreign affairs spokesman, Xavier Solana, to rule out the use of force. It is wrong for Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to echo him. Frederick the Great once observed that diplomacy without arms was like music without instruments. And though the methods of Frederick the Great are not otherwise to be commended, he was certainly right about this. We must keep all options open if we are to stand any chance of achieving a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis."
The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have both called for Israel to join NATO as part of the west’s response to the Iranian president’s threats against the Jewish people. John Hulsman and Neil Gardiner have written:
"More importantly, Israeli accession to NATO would explicitly extend the Western alliance’s nuclear deterrent to cover Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Now it will be Tehran, and not the rest of the world, that has a proliferation problem. Any nuclear or conventional attack on Israel, be it direct or through proxies such as Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, would be met by a cataclysmic response from the West that would make the Battle of Omdurman look like a stroll in the park. Israel’s accession would leave the Mullahs with no illusions about the West’s determination to respond to Iran’s strategic threat to the region."
The Bush administration has also refused to rule out the military option and will welcome Dr Fox’s intervention. Washington has been particularly grateful for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hawkish noises on Iran. The White House sees the re-emergence of Germany as a strategic partner as particularly welcome. Being able to partner with Berlin has reduced US pressure on Tony Blair to sign up to a stronger line on Iraq. The White House thinks that Britain’s Labour government – with its politically draining commitments in Afghanistan and southern Iraq – cannot be expected to do more than it is already doing in the war on terror.