Tom

Iran Captures 15 UK Sailors

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Keeping in mind that the UK sailors were victimized, am I the only one disappointed by the fact that not one of them showed any fortitude in resisting Iran's propaganda efforts? Surely it would have been possible for them to not accept to be displayed on TV (especially in the last appearance), or to only accept to wear their uniform, and certainly refuse to speak, much less accept gifts, apologize repeatedly, and thank the local chief clown, by Jove! Can you imagine what the little buffonry yesterday would have looked like if in one corner of the room one of the UK soldier had been standing silently in their uniform, refusing to say anything else than their name and rank?

Even worse, the female has now sold her story to the media for £100K "I am a collaborator and a traitor, ask me how" I imagine

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Steyn sums up the hostage taking, et al., in this article in today's Sun Times:

[...] . . . [The hostages] smiled and they waved. Wave, Britannia! Britannia, waive the rules!

The Associated Press reported the story as follows: "Analysis: Hope For More Iran Compromises."

Well, if by "compromise" you mean Tehran didn't put them up for a show trial and behead them, you might have a point. With this encouraging development, me might persuade them to wipe only half of Israel off the map, or even nuke some sparsely occupied corner of the Yukon instead. With the momentum of this "compromise" driving events, all manner of diplomatic triumphs are possible.

You see! Peace in our time. Who could complain? Further:

Tony Blair was at pains to point out that the hostages were released "without any deal, without any side agreement of any nature." But he's missing (or artfully sidestepping) the point: Tehran didn't want a deal. It wanted the humbling of the Great Satan's principal ally. And it got it. Very easily. And it paid no price for it. And it has tested in useful ways the empty pretensions of the U.N., the EU and also NATO, whose second largest fleet is now a laughingstock in part of the world where it helps to be taken seriously. [...]

So in 2007 the men of the royal Navy can be kidnapped and "the strong arm of England" (in Lord Palmerston's phrase) goes all limp-wristed and threatens to go to the U.N. and talk about drafting a Security Council resolution. Backstage, meanwhile, deals are done: An Iranian "diplomat" (a k a Mister Terror Kingpin) suddenly resurfaces in Tehran after having been reported in American detention, his release purely coincidental, we're told. But it's the kind of coincidence that ensures more of your men will be kidnapped and ransomed in the years ahead. And, just to remind the world who makes the rules, six more British subjects were killed in southern Iraq even at the moment of the hostages' release . . . .

The most noticeable feature of the last two weeks has been the massive shrug by the British public. [Emphasis mine.] Some observers attributed this to the unpopularity of the Iraq war: Those nice mullahs wouldn't be pulling this stuff if Blair hadn't got mixed up with that crazy Texas moron. But is seems to me a more profound malaise had gripped them -- the enervating fatalism of too many people in what is still a semi-serious nation with one of the world's biggest militaries up against an insignificant basket-case. . . .

. . . . If you believe (as Europe and half America does) in "soft power," it's important to remember it depends on the world's belief that you're willing to use that power. Looking at the reaction to this incident by the United States, European Union, United Nations et al., Iran will conclude that the transnational consensus will never muster the will to constrain its nuclear ambitions.

Europeans and more and more Americans believe they can live in a world with all the benefits of global prosperity and none of the messy obligations necessary to maintain it. And so they cruise around war zones like floating NGOs. Iran called their bluff, and televised it to the world. In the end, every great power is as great as its credibility, and the only consolation after these last two weeks is that Britain doesn't have much more left to lose.

If there are any doubts in your mind about that last, read this article from The Times, which gives added information about the hostages selling their story:

MoD [Ministry of Defense] officials claimed that the move to lift the ban on military personnel selling their stories while in service was justified because of the "exceptional circumstances" of the case. The hostages are expected to earn as much as [250,000 pounds] between them. The story of Faye Turney, 26, the only female among them, is expected to be the most lucrative. She could profit by as much as [150,000 pounds] from a joint deal with a newspaper and ITV. . .

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon Gentle was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra in Iraq, said the MoD should not allow the servicemen to sell their stories. "This is wrong and I don't think it should be allowed by the MoD. None of the parents who have lost loved ones in Iraq have sold their stories," she said . . .

The Royal Marines have agreed to pool their fees from newspapers to share out equally between those who were held captive and to give 10% to their service benevolent fund. The Royal Navy personnel are likely to be allowed to keep their money individually . . . The MoD said: "Serving personnel are not allowed to enter into financial arrangements with media organisations. However, in exceptional circumstances -- such as the awarding of a Victoria Cross or events such as those in recent days -- permission can be granted by the commanding officer and the MoD." . . .

One of the hostages, Dean Harris, 30, an acting sergeant in the Royal Marines, told a Sunday Times reporter yesterday: "I want [70,000 pounds]. That is based on what the others have told me they have been offered. I know Faye has been offered a heck more than that. I am worth it because I was one of the only two who didn't crack.". . .

He claimed the marines were planning to sell on eBay the vases given to them in their "goody bags" by the Iranians.

Hostage taking! The propaganda gift that keeps on giving! To be fair, the article points out that people are outraged over the selling of these stories. I should hope so.

So, what about stories about someone who wins a Victoria Cross, the equivalent of our Medal of Honor? Here's the BBC's take, per the Telegraph (ht/LGF):

Amid the deaths and the grim daily struggle bravely borne by Britain's forces in southern Iraq, one tale of heroism stands out.

Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.

The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism.

I'd say the problem goes much deeper than "an alleged lack of patriotism. The BBC states it doesn't want to upset the viewers who might oppose the war, but they have no problem upsetting those with a contrary viewpoint. In an article from the BBC titled Travelling With The Taleban, the BBC's David Loyn reports glowingly on the Taliban while "embedded" with the terrorists in Afghanistan (ht/LGF):

The BBC's David Loyn has had exclusive access to Taleban forces mobilised against the British army in Helmand Province in south Afghanistan.

There is no army on earth as mobile as the Taleban.

I remember it as their secret weapon when I travelled with them in the mid-1990s, as they swept aside rival mujahideen to take most of the country.

Piled into the back of open Toyota trucks, their vehicle of choice, and carrying no possessions other than their weapons, they can move nimbly.

The bare arid landscape of northern Helmand suits them well.

After one hair-raising race across the desert last week, patrolling the large area where they can move at will, they screamed to a stop at a river bank. [...]

Afghanistan has been in the grip of a severe drought for several years, but the lack of clean water does not seem to concern these hardy men.

They clean their teeth with sharpened sticks taken from trees, and sleep with only the thinnest shawls to cover them.

They have surprised the British by the ferocity of their fighting and their willingness to take casualties.

Their belief in the imminence of paradise means that few exhibit fear.

If you have the stomach, read the whole thing. I have no printable comment. :)

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Keeping in mind that the UK sailors were victimized, am I the only one disappointed by the fact that not one of them showed any fortitude in resisting Iran's propaganda efforts?

Yes, I have sympathy for your point, but I wonder, were they under orders to act as if this was a friendly exchange? What would have been the repercussions if a solder had refused to smile and take part in the show? I really don't know that they were under orders, but considering that the British government is willing to negotiate in this case and compromise on its freedom to navigate in international waters, weren't the soldiers just acting as the government wanted them to act?

What we needed to hear was an angry retort out of a high-ranking British official who said "of course they smiled and waved: you would too if the other option was to have your bloody head shot off." In that way the Iranian military actions would be seen for what they are. As it is, with the British caving in, the Iranians look the part of a tour guide that helped a lost tourist.

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Under order - from whom?

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To update the fallout:

From this article in yesterday's Telegraph: Buoyant Teheran warns of further kidnappings. (ht/LGF, who always stays on top of these things)

Hardliners in the Iranian regime have warned that the seizure of British naval personnel demonstrates that they can make trouble for the West whenever they want to and do so with impunity.

The bullish reaction from Teheran will reinforce the fears of western diplomats and military officials that more kidnap attempts may be planned. [Attempts? jb]

The British handling of the crisis has been regarded with some concern in Washington, and a Pentagon defence official told the Sunday Telegraph: "The fear now is that this could be the first of many. If the Brits don't change their rules of engagement, the Iranians could take more hostages almost at will.

"Iran has come out of this looking reasonable. If I were the Iranians, I would keep playing the same game. they have very successfully muddied the waters and bought themselves some more time. [buying time is their explicitly stated goal. jb]

Americans also expressed dismay that the British had suspended boarding operations in the Gulf while its tactics are reassessed.

"Iran has got what it wants. They have secured free passage for smuggling weapons into Iraq without a fight," one US defence department official said.

There is apparently a debate about the extent of Irans PR coup, however, with the Brits putting forth the idea that Iran has given pause to other EU countries about their trustworthiness. I have to wonder if they are saying this with a straight face.

In other news, the MoD has had second thoughts about allowing the hostages to receive payment for their stories. As I noted above, there has been a general outcry over this policy. According to this article from the Guardian:

Britain on Monday banned all military service members from talking to the media in return for payment in the future, reversing its decision to allow the 15 marines and sailors held captive in Iran to sell their stories.

Defense Secretary Des Browne issued a statement saying the navy faced a "very tough call" over its initial decision to allow the payments, which came under sharp criticism. the new ban will not affect those who already gave accounts, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

On Monday, in one of the first accounts, Faye Turney, the sole woman in the detained crew, said that she "felt like a traitor" for agreeing to her captors' demands to appear on Iranian TV and that she believed they had measured her for a coffin.

The early bird gets the payola.

It seems to me that the Admiralty is out to sea. The whole thing stinks, from the gulf to Number 10. I can't say that I'm completely surprised, however. Our media hasn't paid much attention to what has gone on in southern Iraq, the British area of operations. If it had, we would not have been taken quite so unawares with the actions of these sailors and marines. Check out the Brit blog EU Referendum sometime; he's been complaining about the MoD for sometime, obviously with cause.

For the best assessment by a Brit, I recommend http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1486"" target="_blank">Melanie Phillips, who concludes:

. . . y handing Iran such a stunning propaganda and tactical advantage, they have put us all in greater danger. We appear to have a Diana-fied First Sea Lord who also hasn't got a clue about what war involves. Other British military types who still have some idea of what war and military discipline involve have been expressing their horror at this fiasco, as well they might. And across the Atlantic, the Americans - whose own conduct over the years towards iran has hardly been a model of resolve - have had their illusions about Tony Blair, along with their quasi-mythological belief in the British stiff upper lip, naval prowess, military derring-do and all the rest of it, shredded now in the most brutal fashion. The damage that has been done to Britain's reputation in US circles is incalculable. However, if it is true that Bush came to Blair's aid by releasing an important Iranian prisoner who was taken in Iraq and is shaping up to release five more, it is not just Britain which is on the way to surrender but the leader of the free world.

The Iranians now know from this debacle that they can make trouble for the west with impunity. They can take hostages, smuggle arms into Iraq, blow up British soldiers and even go nuclear - and no-one will do a damn thing to stop it.

This affair has strengthened Iran in its nuclear stand-off. It has strengthened its grip over its own subjected people who have looked to the west to help them rid their country of this terrible regime. It has strengthened its appeal to the Muslim and Arab masses who are already worked up to a state of murderous frenzy against the west. It has given them the message that the west is theirs for the taking.

What a disaster.

I keep coming back to this situation because it doesn't bode well for the West, no matter how you split the hairs. With the taking of hostages, Iran went from covert acts of war (which we've known about for some time now) to overt acts of war, and they did it without a single bomb falling on their turbaned heads.

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I apologize for any mistakes you may find in my post above. I hit the Add Reply button when I meant to hit Preview.

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The most noticeable feature of the last two weeks has been the massive shrug by the British public. [Emphasis mine.] Some observers attributed this to the unpopularity of the Iraq war: Those nice mullahs wouldn't be pulling this stuff if Blair hadn't got mixed up with that crazy Texas moron. But is seems to me a more profound malaise had gripped them -- the enervating fatalism of too many people in what is still a semi-serious nation with one of the world's biggest militaries up against an insignificant basket-case. . . .

. . . . If you believe (as Europe and half America does) in "soft power," it's important to remember it depends on the world's belief that you're willing to use that power. Looking at the reaction to this incident by the United States, European Union, United Nations et al., Iran will conclude that the transnational consensus will never muster the will to constrain its nuclear ambitions.

This I think, is due to the "one-ness" of view offered up by the BBC that would disgrace North Korea. I thought myself alone in the view that we should commence air strikes after say two days, not a single BBC commentator said so. Often in news shows or current affairs, they'd have two guests on, both of whom parroted exactly the same "Neville Chamberlain" thing. On phone in shows, callers who suggested we should take military action were called "mad" or "warmongers" or "Arm chair generals" whereas the "surrender view" was lionized as patient intelligent diplomacy. Mix this in, with mad anti-Bush, anti-Americanism from the BBC, and thus, the public's view.

I stand by the view, that far from being cleared to sell their stories, they (the troops) should now be subject to court martial. The officers in particular must surely resign or be sacked. How can you command respect when you have so meekly thrown away your guns? Could not a private soldier say “Sir, what is the point in us taking guns when we will simply throw them away when faced with an enemy?” Far from insubordination, he would have a valid point.

And the killing of other British soldiers in Iraq soon after, simply underlines our defeat. We are humbled, people seem not to have noticed or care.

For Brit, this was truly the saddest episode in my country's history since Munich, and equally disgraceful. I am ashamed to be British.

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I stand by the view, that far from being cleared to sell their stories, they (the troops) should now be subject to court martial. The officers in particular must surely resign or be sacked. How can you command respect when you have so meekly thrown away your guns? Could not a private soldier say “Sir, what is the point in us taking guns when we will simply throw them away when faced with an enemy?” Far from insubordination, he would have a valid point.

Yes he would, but it would totally injust to blame the lowest rung on the ladder for top level official military policy. (Do we even know that they possessed loaded weapons??) If that were not the case, the Iranians would never have abducted them in the first place, because they would know that the first response would be to start blowing Iran to bits. Not even 9/11 was enough for that to happen, what's a few soldiers?

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In order to recoup some ground, and not allow the Iranians 'Carte Blanche' to smuggle anything into Iraq, whilst our boarding operations are apparently suspended for tactical review, we should simply close the waterway stating that without explicit consent from an allied naval vessel to proceed, foreign vessels, regardless of flag will be sunk on site.

Knock off a couple to show you are serious,and hey presto, fear and respect again.

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In order to recoup some ground, and not allow the Iranians 'Carte Blanche' to smuggle anything into Iraq, whilst our boarding operations are apparently suspended for tactical review, we should simply close the waterway stating that without explicit consent from an allied naval vessel to proceed, foreign vessels, regardless of flag will be sunk on site.

Knock off a couple to show you are serious,and hey presto, fear and respect again.

Unfortunately, doing that would also close Iraq's port.

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Unfortunately, doing that would also close Iraq's port.

Why would that be a bad thing? At least it would make the issue clear for everyone, even those who wish it would remain hidden. The issue is, should our military be in Iraq or not?

If our military should be there in order to counter a threat to the United States, then the military should take whatever steps it finds necessary to win the war it is waging. That might include closing Iraq's port if the military finds that the enemy is using the port to its advantage.

If instead, our military should not be in Iraq because there is no legitimate threat to the United States, then we should pull out immediately and not put our soldiers at risk where there is nothing to be gained from having them there.

Just to suggest that you were going to close the port for the safety of our troops would highlight the real issue.

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As an addendum to my previous reply to Stussy88, and generally to the entire thread, here's an eye opening news article on Foxnews.com:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264932,00.html

Let us review (and there will be a test). Fifteen British Royal Marines were patrolling 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters. This little fact is important, as Iran will and does claim that the Brits were in its waters. At first, Iranian rubber boats approached the British rubber boats in a friendly manner. Then, in a less friendly manner, they challenged the Brits, pointed guns at them and took them hostage.

Now, how do we know all this? Well, for sure the Iranians told us, but we first got word of this from the Brits themselves, who had a destroyer-sized boat and armed helicopters right there on the scene. But, hold on, it gets better — the captain of the HMS Cornwall, a boat as big as a building, whose job it is to protect the Royal Marines and sailors, was required to ask permission to interfere in the hostage taking.

Yes, that’s right; he had to ask permission. The captain called London and said, “Mother may I” protect the British Marines? And, London said, “NO.”

The nation from which our great country was born, a nation that is our strongest ally in this war (or at least was) refused to protect its soldiers … why am I not surprised?

(Bold mine)

If the above is accurate, while seems likely, then to blame the abducted soldiers is total scapegoating. Vastly superior forces could have destroyed the Iranians in their toy boats but everyone was essentially told not to resist. Is it any wonder that Iran feels invulnerable now??

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I'm adding this link to remind everyone that, except for the higher-ups, there are good guys among the Brit forces. It will take you to Michael Yon's site.

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