March 13, 2006

The Shifting British Position

Looks like the Brits are slowly edging away from the American stance on Iraq and Iran:

An announcement on troop reduction in Iraq is expected...

Britain's defense chief plans to announce a significant reduction in the number of British forces in Iraq on Monday, a broadcast report said.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on details, saying Defence Secretary John Reid would make an announcement in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

The British Broadcasting Corp. said the cut could be by as many as 800 troops, or about 10 percent of the British deployment in southern Iraq.

On the Iran issue, Jack Straw indicates a preference for dialogue...

Britain's foreign secretary on Monday said Iran is already paying a price for the harder line taken under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he called for peaceful pressure to resolve a standoff over Iran's nuclear weapons program.

"We want to see a normalization of relations with this country, and it is still not too late for the Iranians to get back into negotiations with us." Straw added.

He repeated his position that military force is not an option to solve the dispute.

"This is an issue that has to be resolved -- yes, by pressure -- but by peaceful and democratic means," Straw said.

Meanwhile, the US is studying less diplomatic options in terms of Iran. The word "regime change" is being thrown around quite a bit...

As the dispute over its nuclear program arrives at the U.N. Security Council today, Iran has vaulted to the front of the U.S. national security agenda amid Bush administration plans for a sustained campaign against the ayatollahs of Tehran.

The internal administration debate that raged in the first term between those who advocated more engagement with Iran and those who preferred more confrontation appears in the second term to be largely settled in favor of the latter. Although administration officials do not use the term "regime change" in public, that in effect is the goal they outline as they aim to build resistance to the theocracy.

"The upper hand is with those who are pushing regime change rather than those who are advocating more diplomacy," said Richard N. Haass, who as State Department policy planning director in Bush's first term was among those pushing for engagement.
We shall wait and see what comes out of this. Another pre-emptive attack to impose regime change?

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