Letters to the Editor: Statesmanship and the crisis over Iran

7 January 2019, Letters to the Editor, The Times.


Your leading article (Jan 6) is right that London must urge restraint in the Iran crisis. But in this case the government’s response will be judged beyond the platitudinous. This is Boris Johnson’s first foreign crisis as prime minister and it could hardly be more significant, as it sets the tone for how Britain embarks on its Brexit road outside the EU. Mr Johnson should resist any Churchillian flourishes to line up behind this particular strand of US policy. If the White House does not think it important to inform, let alone consult, its most loyal ally before a military strike of this importance it is unlikely to be affected by anything London says on the matter.

Britain should react to this first post-Brexit crisis by reinforcing its status as one of the European “big three” with France and Germany, and showing that it can contribute to stability in the Middle East over this next fraught year. Britain could offer real leadership here, and for the prime minister it would make a better start than endorsing the brinkmanship of a US president who thinks he is naturally good at it.

Professor Michael Clarke

Director-General, Royal United Services Institute, 2007-15

See here for all the published Letters to the Editor on this date.