US rescue bid: still support from W. Europe, Japan but US prestige drops in Mideast as tensions rise; Britain stands firm
London correspondent Rushworth M. Kidder reports: There is some appreciation in Britain and Western Europe that the necessity for absolute surprise in the US raid precluded a full-scale consultation by Washington with European allies.
But still there is a sense of deja vu in what many see as Mr. Carter's tactless disregard for European feelings.
Nevertheless, several governments have signaled support. Britain's Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, who is esteemed as one of Europe's leading diplomats and who begins a three-day visit to Washington May 3, spoke of "grave times ahead" but left no doubt of Britain's support for a friend in trouble.
The British, who have recently proved to be America's staunchest European ally, appear to have been alerted that an operation was to take place. They recently trimmed embassy staff in Tehran to a minimum and counseled British residents in Iran to leave if possible. They are now sending back their ambassador, Sir John Graham, who was recalled from Tehran last week.
In the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt called the raid legitimate. But Italian Foreign Minister Emilio Columbo has condemned it and announced his "decisive opposition" to the use of force in Iran.
The British press has generally been supportive, the Guardian newspaper noting that "the fiasco in the desert . . . may yet turn out to be a blessing in disguise" in bringing America to accept "counsel" rather than "obedience" from its allies.
One British official paraphrased the British position succinctly. "Let those who are disposed to criticize," he said, "think what they would have said had the operation succeeded."