steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

When is a Threat Not a Threat?

"I would like to state unequivocally at the outset that at no time has the British government made any threat against the embassy of Ecuador."
Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Washington, speaking at the OAS 24th August.


Situation 1

Two large gentlemen walk into my antique shop, admire the stock, and then say in a meaningful way: "Nice little business you've got here, Steepholm. Be a shame if something was to happen to it. Careful Leftie, you almost dropped that Ming vase! Like I was saying, accidents do happen, and it's as well to be aware of all the things that can go wrong, ain't it, and take - preventative measures?"

Situation 2

Ecuador shelters someone in its embassy, only to get a letter from the UK Foreign Office reminding them that, under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, the UK has a right to enter by force. They add: “We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange’s presence in your premises, this is an open option for us.”


We now know officially that the second of these situations does not involve a threat at all, but only a helpful clarification of the legal position. What a pity it was so widely misunderstood! But then, if you model your diplomatic correspondence on the banter of comedy racketeers, what do you expect?
Tags: current affairs
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