April 5, 2007

The easy way to induce Stockholm Syndrome: Be less brutal than the Americans

I really haven't been following Iran's detaining of 15 British sailors and marines, now released, but I did see (with the sound off) ten seconds of a Brit on Iranian television narrating in front of a large map, presumably explaining how his ship had blundered into Iranians waters. He displayed the perky body language of an enthusiastic young Communication Studies major auditioning to be an ingratiating TV weatherman, which was reassuring. If the Iranians had been beating him with saps too much, he probably wouldn't have been so damn Katie Couric-like chipper. (On this YouTube clip, he's the second marine, the one who comes on at 19 and 52 seconds.)

So, if you are Iranian, how would you induce Stockholm Syndrome in your prisoners? I'd guess that all it take to play Good Cop is to be less horrible than the Bad Cop Americans are to their detainees. They "were not physically maltreated in any way" according to the Guardian (although it might be too early to be sure of that). Don't waterboard the poor Brits or stack them in big naked piles and they'll be so relieved they'll think you're just swell.

Leon Hadar had a prophetic article in The American Conservative a couple of months ago, "The Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident," reviewing the confused story of the murky 1964 event that allowed LBJ to get Congressional backing for a bigger American role in Vietnam. The first North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. destroyer was probably provoked by U.S. commando raids on North Vietnam, while the crucial second attack probably never actually happened, just nervous sailors unloading on something out in the dark. LBJ laughed, "“Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish.”

We know now that the Brits' mission was to go up to near the watery border between Iran and Iraq territorial seas and collect intelligence on Iran. Looking at this motley crew, they wouldn't appear to be crack commandos assigned to infiltrate Iran, but they might have blundered over the unmarked and disputed border at sea.


"If the incident occurred where the MoD claims, the British position appears strong but there are sufficient uncertainties over boundary definition to make it inadvisable to state categorically that the vessel was in Iraqi waters at the time of the arrest," said Martin Pratt, of Durham University's International Boundaries Research Unit."


With a GPS system, you should be able to avoid that, but mistakes get made in the military. Or the Iranians might have blundered the other way. Or maybe it was part of a complicated Iranian plot to respond to American abductions of Iranians.

In any case, best to just call it all off rather than fight a war over it.

Judging by the palpable disappointment of Bush supporters at the benign outcome of the crisis, they must have wanted this to be a new Tonkin Gulf. But, as Dr. Phil would say, how'd that last one work out for you?


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

53 comments:

savvygoper said...

Steve, your war commentary has hit a new low- you've bottomed out. I would expext this kind of anti-military anti-American drivel from the likes of daily kos or huffpost, not you. But it is you, so I am saddened; by your loose grip on the increasingly serious situation with Iran. You are suffering from an acute case of Bush Derangement Syndrome that has lead you to forsake patriotism for... well for what exactly? Nothing. Are we to believe you would rather be captured as an enemy combatant by Iranian as opposed to US forces? You make it seem so. Would you care to provide a number of deaths for the atrocities you imply our troops are comitting against terrorists. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded? Good Lord, let me cry myself to sleep over this injustice. Or perhaps not.

tommy said...

I'm not following your logic, Steve. Maybe I'm misreading what you're saying. The Iranians were so relieved not to be treated like the very worst al-Qaeda suspects in US custody that they merrily cooperated with their Iranian captors?

You can't be serious.

I would suggest that a much more likely scenario might be that being navy personnel who never seriously expected to see combat in Middle East, they were not very committed to toughing it out against any nasty Third World nation that might nab them and were willing to say anything their captors might wish, regardless of who they were. Hell, I think these guys would have happily admitted to being in Mexico's territorial waters if the Mexicans had grabbed them deep in the Caribbean.

If you think the fate of KSM weighed heavily on their minds, then you are really stretching your anti-Bush position to the point of absurdity this time. Nobody expects the Iranians to be nice, probably because they've never been too nice. Did you think the Iranians were friendly folks, averse to torture, say, back in 1985? I don't know about you, but I might expect a lot worse than waterboarding from the Persians at practically any point in their long history.

tommy said...

As far as I can tell, Bush did practically everything Sailer might recommend he do in this situation: he didn't use military force, he avoided the tough cowboy rhetoric, he let the Brits take the lead, he didn't make a fuss over Syria's involvement, and he may have even given the Iranians something they want (I hope not, myself), and most importantly he waited.

Clearly, this is a golden opportunity to bash Bush.

Anonymous said...

Tommy, Tommy, and savvygoper,

It looks like a triad of neo-cons are attempting to make an offensive on the comments page of an influential blog.

Let me tell you something...........I seen Fox News right after Iran released the Brits. Bill Kristol, the uber-neo-con who has somehow curried favor with Murdoch enough to get to head a propaganda, er', magazine and opine idiocies on Fox News WAS SO DISSAPOINTED THAT HE COULD NOT EVEN HIDE IT. His body language, his tone (he speaks like he has a frog in his throat on a good day, and this wasn't a good day) was like a two year old who lost his only friend in the world.

The SOB is sad that a bunch of sailers have been set free. He literally wanted a confrontation, a war.

Yup, thinking conservatives dont like this administration and its think-tank-talk-show-enablers running things for the moment. And yes, if they get more of the same nominatedin 08', alot of us Reagan-Democrats may really stay home on election day, giving you "world-subduers" a disaster at the polls, discrediting your ilk politically, and handing the White House to Hillary or Edwards with a Dem congress for about eight good years.

The fact that the Brits were set free is a good thing, a war has been averted.


Some of us are on to you. I honestly think the continuing resistance in Iraq is secretly appreciated in the deep, dark, recesses of think-tank minds, who long to blame the civil war on Iraq on "outside influences" as an excuse to make war on Iran and Syria and anyone else on the great neo-con wish list.

The United States has NEVER been in such disfavor around the globe. China only likes us for our market (until other markets develop fully for them, and then I imagine they wont give a damn), Russia increasingly is viewing us as a bully, Europe is ticked off even more than usual, REAL leftists are winning elections in South America, Indonesia hates us as much as they ever have, and big ol'India has to be worrying about backing the right horse at some point, right or wrong.


Are you SURE the hundreds of Billions in debt we are going into over Iraq (who seems to be willing to give oil deals to China and India as much as us) is going to be worth it? How long until they are a shining democracy again? Are they still going to be a beacon and the envy of the rest of the middle east? In 20 years? In 30 years?

Sailer is one of the real principled conservatives out there. He could sell out, like some other writers, and still be writing for the National Review (I started getting NR when I was 17, now I cannot even click on their web page because of my disgust).


While we are on the subject.....why is it important that we attack Iran, but not find bin Laden again? Why is he still breathing our air again? Why dont we have more people in Afghanistan killing the Taliban and its sypathizers and the central cadre surrounding bin Laden? What a joke.



Keep looking at those pols boys....."Bush Derangement Syndrome" is real. He will go down in history in a very ugly way and will be despised by an entire generation of Americans. He changed the nation's ethnic profile AGAINST ITS WILL, he put us in enormous debt as the boomers are about to retire, he has made us despised all over the earth, he has signed every big-government-big spending bill put before him, he has done nothing to free us from dependency on foreign oil except for funding pie-in-the-sky initiatives like hydrogen which are many decades away, he's watched Amercian PERSONAL debt go higher than ever before, housing prices rise throught the roof, gas prices rise through the roof, slashed our right to privacy with his "patriot" (everything is patriot, right) act..................shall I go on?

You guys aren't backing a horse, youre backing a jackass.

savvygoper said...

anonymous, let me answer your points in the order you stumbled into them. If I am a neocon then this is news to me- I can't recall ever not being conservative. 1) Conspiracry theories are better suited to libs who are absent arguments to advance. 2) I notice to attempt to evade the issue at hand, Iran obtaining nukes. Your failure to adress it suggests a failure to propose any action, other than a reflexive anti- Bush course. No, the British soldiers debacle is not a positive event: the UK was humiliated with, as far as I can tell, no punishment against Iran. 3) The US is not liked around the world leads you to blame... why the US of course. By citing a list of failed and faltering countries a pattern emerges that you fail to recognize. These countries are angry at the US for what? fighting the enemy that they are unable or unwilling to face up to. Are you legitimizing anti- Americanism?
4) Bin Laden? survey says he's in Pakistan- so what do you propose? attack them? You see Bin Laden and 9-11 are part of something larger, called terrorism; which is part of Islamism. To small picture types like yourself the wider solution is invisible.
5) I agree with most of your final paragraph about Bush- his federal spending is shameful and his immigration blindness is unforgivable.

A final note, failing to support conservative candidates is a reckless position. Nobody should expect utopian political solutions, we should accept something better, and only one party offers it, the other ensures something much worse. So while I condemn many of Bush's policies, I am mindful that the next president may well be worse, especially if emoting overwhelms logical thinking, and frustrations are registered at the polls.

Russell said...

I agree with those who think Steve is very, very wrong on this.

I would echo savvygoper and tommy's points, but would also point out regarding whether the brits were seized legitimately or not: the first GPS position the Iranians claimed for the ship when it was captured was within established Iraqi territorial limits. They then provided a new position a couple ways away, inside Iranian waters. It seems obvious to me at least that they blundered and gave away the fact that they took them in Iraqi territory, and made themselves look stupid by accidentally admitting to it.

I'm frankly baffled by the willingness of people to simply trust the Iranians' version of events over the Brits' for no apparent reason than they really hate the neocons.

And for the record, I think the neocons' plans for Iraq were idiotic and negligent and I gave up on Bush a while ago.

Gipper said...

Sound and fury aside, this affair will be as quickly forgotten as the 2004 one was.

And don't worry about any perceived British humiliation. i)Who really cares what the ROW think - they're just a bunch of foreigners ii)The Brits didn't build a worldwide empire simply by crushing all and any opposition. Many were the reverses and setbacks. How else did they acquire their reputation for diplomacy and compromise?

I say let the Iranians develop their nuclear program. If they want the bomb, let them have it. Continue to buy their oil, but otherwise disengage. Cancel the plans for a New American Century. Let history take its own course.

And don't bash Steve too harshly. He just wanted to use the Stockholm Syndrome line.

Anonymous said...

A neocon is someone who follows the neocon party line, regardless of his personal political history. As for defining the difference between conservatives and neocons, it reminds me of what Twain said about the lightning and the lightning-bug.

RKU said...

Don't the neocon commenters on this thread have something better to do with their time? Maybe searching for the WMD in Iraq or volunteering for Anbar patrol duty?

And I wonder which of them is really named Irv "The Traitor" Libby...

Anonymous said...

The line about President Borat being saner than President Bush was fun. Why did you take it off?

tommy said...

It looks like a triad of neo-cons are attempting to make an offensive on the comments page of an influential blog.

Well, for one, I'm not a neo-con and I opposed our current adventure in Iraq. I don't see how the neo-cons reaction to this episode has any bearing on whether or not the treatment of top al-Qaeda detainees was a factor in the reaction of these British sailors while in Iranian custody.

As for Bush, again, he should probably get credit for not jumping the gun on this one. As far as I can tell, the only thing he might of done wrong was being all too willing to meet Iranian demands.

With this incident, I thought we might eventually have to take action, though I hoped we might find a way short of full-scale war to do so. The Iranians really seemed to be digging in on this one. However, the right thing to do first in these cases is to always wait and let things develop a little further. A lot of time, with erratic regimes like Iran, things will sort themselves out internally given a little patience.

tommy said...

Of course, the sailors now say they were indeed in Iraqi territorial waters.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you and Sky have both made it sound like some kind of espionage task. Inteligence gathering is something which you are doing all the time, you can never have too much information, it doesn't mean we plan on steaming across the border and razing Tehran.

If patrols spot notable or unusual Iranian activity it will be noted and someone somewhere will take it into consideration. Or would you suggest that nobody reports any odd Iranian behavior because we are not at war with them?

I sincerely doubt that our matelots and booties are now sympathetic to the Iranian cause because they were given cheap suits (no ties!), a dishcloth for the bird's head and a chess board.

tommy said...

The United States has NEVER been in such disfavor around the globe. China only likes us for our market (until other markets develop fully for them, and then I imagine they wont give a damn)

Because they were chummy with us before non-economic reasons before the Iraq War, right?

Russia increasingly is viewing us as a bully

Because Putin was a nice guy before the Iraq War, right? A Russian strongman accusing the U.S. of being a bully? Who ever heard of such a thing!

Europe is ticked off even more than usual

There may be some truth here, but the European Left and the French have disliked us immensely for a long time.

REAL leftists are winning elections in South America,

I'm sure Hugo would have never come to power if it weren't for the Iraq Attaq.

Indonesia hates us as much as they ever have,

It could be Iraq. Then again, it could be the fact that America's old pal, Suharto, is no longer ruling the country with an iron fist and we are getting yet another taste of what Islamic "democracy" looks and sounds like.

and big ol'India has to be worrying about backing the right horse at some point, right or wrong.

What other horse is there to back?

Anonymous said...

To follow on my last post, the one where I mentioned the cheap suits and lack of ties, it doesn't appear they were as well treated as Steve seems to believe.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6533069.stm

Anonymous said...

Have a look at this BBC story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6533069.stm

Sounds like Gitmo to me.

Russell said...

Don't the neocon commenters on this thread have something better to do with their time? Maybe searching for the WMD in Iraq or volunteering for Anbar patrol duty?

You're only making yourself look stupid(er).

You style of argument is just about indistinguishable from those geniuses who just cry racism when Steve talks about IQ.

Walter said...

Didn't the Union Jack our boys were sitting in front of look great? Best flag in the world, naturally.

Jock said...

The line about President Borat being saner than President Bush was fun. Why did you take it off?

He didn't. It's in the other entry Iran releases captured British soldiers. Scroll down, boy.

Chief Seattle said...

To all the posters supporting Bush and Tony Blair, cry me a river. Those guys lied us into a war and got caught doing it. Why would anyone be surprised if they had less credibility than the Iranians at this point?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The last terrorist attack on America didn't work out so well, either. How on the one hand do you disparage middle easterners as inbred lunatics you wouldn't want in your neighborhood, yet on the other, calmly embrace a nuclear Iran?

Anonymous said...

also, people forget that part of the neocon plan was to establish a forward base in Iraq to serve as a terrorist target and draw attention away from America as a target. of course, no one would showcase this feature of the plan, yet there hasn't been a domestic attack since 9/11. I think that if security had our first and only mission, rather than nation building, we could have rolled up the whole region, taken control of its oil resources, and more or less put the problem of WMD terrorism/rogue Middle East regimes to bed.

tommy said...

Why would anyone be surprised if they had less credibility than the Iranians at this point?

Do you really want me to answer that? My God!

tommy said...

Just because Bush is a scumbag doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to get all lovey-dovey about the Iranians.

Nixon lied about Watergate. We must take the Russians at their word.

Anonymous said...

12:29 Anon wrote:

"I think that if security had our first and only mission, rather than nation building, we could have rolled up the whole region, taken control of its oil resources, and more or less put the problem of WMD terrorism/rogue Middle East regimes to bed."


----------that is exactly the kind of thinking (or even the presumption of such by others) that is making us so damned hated now. In order to be in the "moral right" in a conflict, you need to be either attacked first, or reveal others plans to attack you first. 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq or Iran. It was about Al Quaeda, and also about our sensless lack of vetting in terms of who gets to visit and stay in this country and the lack of enforcement that WE have. None of those damned hijackers should have been allowed to stay here. No person with radiacal Islamic ties should be allowed on our soil, period. Thats a much better way to safeguard against terrorism than to start a war (thus making many terrorists amongst other populations due to resentment over collateral damage, and in an indirect way training them in military matters to boot).


We are hated like never before pretty MUCH EVERYWHERE.


Instead of defunding the middle east by pursuing nuclear power here, solar power here, wind power here, clean coal technology here (thats locked up in court right now, and thus cant be used), oil exploration off the continental shelf in our own waters here..................we continue to buy middle eastern oil. Would it be so much better to DE-FUND these regimes by not needing to buy their oil? Idle hands are the devil's workshop. Notice how many of the radical leaders were wealthy kids? If they were having to develop a REAL advanced economy of production instead of being paid for simply living on top of alot of oil deposits, they probably wouldn't have so much extra TIME to waste in Madrassas getting radicalized by imans.

Disengagement also entails one other small favor, be it from our entertainment elite. It probably pisses off Ahkmed Arab very much when he turns on his satellite TV and finds his little kids watching American Corporate Pornography. We know this stuff is a huge taboo over there, and yet we push it. I dont think their negative evaluation of us as "evil" can be underestimated as a result of what they see about us. Watch the tube some night. You'd think Americans are a bunch of sleazy professionals, who sleep around with each other's wives, get in alot of fights, use lots of drink and drugs, and are obsessed with what they look like. Its not for NOTHING that we are getting resentment in places relatively benign to us like say.......Australia. Our cultural influence has been increasingly trashy since about 1990 or so. This sticks in people's craw around the planet.


Bottom line, whatever subtle pressure that was applied this time................worked. The sailers were freed. They WERE in, according to them, Iranian waters.


I'd like to address the "Iran with Nukes" argument once and for all also. I really dont like them having one. However, to be intellectually honest, PAKISTAN HAS THEM. China has them. Russia has them. Britan has them. The neo-con's favorite country to hate, FRANCE, has them. India has them. Many other countries have the technology to posses them also.

I mean, what are we going to do? Declare a new "DOCTRINE" that states the United States will attack any country in the world that is enriching Uranium 238 or 235 without warning or provocation as this act constitutes an act of war in OUR opinion" or something?
This puts us in a rather bad light also. We have what, 7,000 nukes? The rest of the world certainly doesn't like this.



Cant resist.................concerning India and "what horse she will back". The USA has 300 million people, and pretty much a stagnant brithrate. China, Russia, the Islamic countries including the 200 million people in Indonesia and the 160 million in Pakistan, and Europe outnumber us together by a great degree. Put yourself in India's position. In 2050............these nations will have much better militaries than they have now, but will the USA? How much longer can the USA burrow further in debt to superfund its military? Are we assuming that our technology will always outpace these other nations? Especially if they REALLY get to despising us and start sharing info with each other? India is sandwiched in between Pakistan (160 million people), China (1.3 billion), the other Arab states, and south of Russia, not too far from Indonesia (200 million). We are asking them to hold the rope for us, half a world away. Think about that. Its as if the ancient Greeks were asking Carthage to back them against Rome in 300 B.C. when Rome was really on the upswing, and Greece---although still probably more technically proficient in battle at that point, was in decline.

Chief Seattle said...

"Just because Bush is a scumbag doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to get all lovey-dovey about the Iranians."

You don't have to love the Iranians to recognize our government propaganda is aimed at tricking U.S. taxpayers into funding a war against Iran for the benefit of U.S. oil companies.

Don't believe me? It's been going since 1905 in one form or another between U.S., Britain, and Iran.

Cyrus said...

Sorry, but I don't buy this war for oil stuff. That's just a convenient banner under which to unite anti-war demonstrations.


It doesn't take much to see that the war is not 'in US interests' in this red-state sense. For one thing, big oil and big business have never been supporters of the war. Bush I, who was much closer to big oil than Bush II, never wanted to invade Iraq. For all the left's addiction to 'research', the names of big oil companies (or, for that matter, big auto executives, or retailers, or manufacturers) and their executives have never surfaced in analyses of who pushed for war. It's not that oil companies don't seek to influence policy, or that Bush is not responsive to their concerns: witness Exxon's involvement in the shaping of US reaction to Kyoto. It's rather that invading Iraq offers no net economic benefits.

It is said that the US wants oil, and wants to control its sources. True. But, in the first place, the way to control oil is not to piss off virtually every oil producing country in the world, which is what the invasion of Iraq did.

Second, the US doesn't normally need to occupy anywhere at all to secure oil supplies: it has many other, cheaper and more effective means at its disposal, including all forms of economic pressure, and limited military actions such as blockades, embargoes, or even air strikes.

Third, if you have to control oil by force, you take oil fields: it is simply idiotic to take on the extra burden of subduing the whole country. In fact, occupying the whole country, as the invasion of Iraq makes clear, is a terrible way to secure oil supplies, because it incites people to attack their own pipelines and other oil installations.

Fourth, if there is one thing that big oil companies (as opposed to small-time cowboy outfits like Unocal) want, it's long-term political stability in oil-rich regions. This isn't achieved by bringing war to the area. Typical of big-oil tactics is not warfare, but almost infinite patience, and tolerance of oil-rich régimes. That's why big oil has consistently reacted to Saudi Arabia's repeated demands for greater control of its oil, not with intimidation or military pressure, but with tolerance and compromise. This does not necessarily mean that oil companies aren't evil; it just means they aren't stupid.


http://www.counterpunch.org/neumann06242005.html

Anonymous said...

anon, it's better to be feared than loved, as the saying goes. World opinion is a function of media slant, which used to be engineered by the Soviets, but now seems driven by analytically soft journalist/editor types. I personally don't care much if world opinion is anti-american, provided that everyone keeps doing business with us; so far, everyone has. I do care if Iran gets nuclear weapons. It isn't just the terror risk, it's the tilting of the rogue/US power equation in the North Korea direction. No one is thrilled with Pakistan nukes. Probably the same affable, soft centered Europeans who left the drawings out for AQ Kahn now oppose any sort of action against Iran. Great. Anyhow, Steve refuses to really explain himself on Iran. However, the fact is that when a terror committed Islamo-regime gains nukes, you are taking a risk. It's a risk you're comfortable with, fine, but admit that it's a real risk for Israel, US, and civilization generally.

Media coverage of Iraq is like having the flu; it's just the same old emotions and feelings thrown at you from every direction. With all this effort to engineer your opinion, it may come as a shock that someone feels our policy was too little committed. In fact, a lot of people feel this way, but they aren't the screamers. Oil revenue is the only reason the mideast rates as more than a flyspeck on the global landscape. A major part of a comprehensive anti-rogue/anti-WMD effort should have focused on taking control of this revenue; not because we want the oil or the revenue, but to deny it to potentially irresponsible regimes.

Simon said...

Media coverage of Iraq is like having the flu; it's just the same old emotions and feelings thrown at you from every direction.

Sounds more like being a soap opera actor.

tommy said...

You don't have to love the Iranians to recognize our government propaganda is aimed at tricking U.S. taxpayers into funding a war against Iran for the benefit of U.S. oil companies.

Yeah, I'm sure the abduction of the soldiers was all a gag by Bush and company. The fact that the Iranians couldn't even get their coordinates right when they first announced the capture of British sailors in Iranian territorial waters doesn't lead to me to trust their side of the story even more.

Anonymous said...

Steve's little Dr. Phil taunt at the end is bizarre. You only make digs like that if you're glad things are going badly.

How can you despise neo-cons so thoroughly that you're willing to taunt them about something as awful as your own country's military quagmire? (though Steve noticeably has started using "their" rather than "our" when referring to Americans - see graf 2 line 2 of his post)

That's kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Glaivester said...

Steve:

Love ya, but I think you're being a little too hard on the U.S. and a little too soft on the Iranians on this one.

Granted, part of the goal of Iran here was to make them appear to be less brutal than the U.S. by contrasting the publicized treatment of the Brits to the publicized treatment of the Iraqis at Abu Ghraib.

However, I would hesitate to say that the Abu Ghraib treatment is the norm for the U.S. or that the British sailors were treated as well as they were trying to make out they had been treated. Expecially as they now say that they were subjected to coercion (same link as tommy's link above).

Anonymous said...

Steve --

I think you're verging on the state of idiocy found by many who hate Bush more than anything.

I don't hold any special brief for GWB, a man who is profoundly lazy but knows better and embraces idiot open borders policy.

But US treatment of captured non-Geneva Convention has been exceedingly gentle. Compared to the brutal torture endured by US covered Geneva Convention POWs like McCain, the guys in the Hanoi Hilton, Tucker and Menchaca (tortured, mutilated and beheaded with their genitals stuffed in their mouths) by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The tragic outcome has been predictable: without serious consequences for people who don't fight by the Geneva Convention rules means out guys never get the treatment they deserve.

We are not brutal enough to deter people from failing to fight under Geneva rules. It's odd that you can see how that reciprocity works economically but can't in treatment of prisoners. You certainly can't argue that our guys since WWII haven't been treated horribly. Decades before GWB came on the scene.

At any rate the Brits cracked when our Marines in 1979 did not because Britain no longer believes in itself. Why fight or resist when you don't believe in yourself? Marines endured beatings, mock executions, etc.

Is this a defeat? Yes. Britain was enforcing Iraqi naval inspections on behalf of the UN. Effectively, they have to give up, retreat. Or they will be taken captive again. Were they "spying" ? No. They were collecting intelligence from Iraqi vessels complaining that Iranians were boarding their vessels and ripping them off.

But yeah it's a defeat. Iran has shown it can humiliate and drive out of the Gulf the Royal Navy. Because Blair was gutless, and leaned on Bush to release the head of Qods Force who was caught red-handed with Al Qaeda in Iraq, supplying money and munitions to kill our guys.

This defeat comes against almost 30 years of constant warfare against the US. Steve if you were not BLINDED by your hate for GWB you'd see that Iranian Aggression only gets worse when we fail to confront it. Given that they are so close to nukes it's a bad defeat.

The defeat has shown however the bankruptcy of the UN which couldn't even get a "strongly worded resolution" out without Russia and China watering things down. Or the EU eunuchs unable to do anything. Only Bush trading a high-profile Iranian terrorist got the sailors recently.

What Iran did (intimidate through taking hostages, hey where have we seen THAT before) closes off ANY alternative to military strikes.

Unless you want to live in a world where Iran is free to do what it wants. I know a lot of arch-conservatives, perhaps Steve, would love to see Iran "wiping Israel off the map" which Iranian leaders from Rafsanjani to Ahamdinejad have pledged. A nuclear Iran is free to nuke Israel (a one-bomb state) and/or the US.

Steve: consider this ... Iran's leader has learned he can intimidate both the UK and US, and take hostages just as he did in his youth without any comeback. This is a reward and what you reward you get more of. It's an open invitation to a nuclear Iran ... the US might as well have put on a sign saying "Nuke Me." Given Hezbollah as Iran's version of the Strategic Air Command. Global reach goes both ways. As Buenos Aires Jews found out.

tommy said...

This is a textbook example of how not to behave when captured by the enemy.

Perry said...

The war hawks are circling...

Yet in the words of the Commander in Chief: "We're trying to figure out how best to make the world a peaceful place.

There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. It fool me, you can't get fooled again."

Rosco MacDonalds said...

This is actually more foreboding than crazed terrorist fanatics. It means Iran actually has its s___ together.

What did Churchill say? Speak softly and carry a big stick? I wonder what kinds of sticks and stones these gentlemanly Iranians have up their sleeve.

tommy said...

What did Churchill say? Speak softly and carry a big stick? I wonder what kinds of sticks and stones these gentlemanly Iranians have up their sleeve.

Kidnapping British soldiers, a potential act of war, is "speaking softly?"

This isn't so much evidence that Iran doesn't have it together as it is evidence of just how erratic Iran really is.

Anonymous said...

Iranians just did what moslims have done for centuries: make small raids into the country's territory and check how stiff the resistance would be. Not very enthusiastics resistance always meant that big moslim army will be coming soon to overcome said country.
So why a lot of smart people refuse to recognise that war with Iran already goes on?
Neville Chamberlaine comes to mind.
Also they cannot help but be sympathetic to the country that wants to wipe out several million
Jews.
Anna

tommy said...

This isn't so much evidence that Iran doesn't have it together as it is evidence of just how erratic Iran really is.

Sorry, that should have read "this isn't evidence Iran has it together."

Anonymous said...

I don't think Steve is stupid. He's insightful in correctly deducing that White Upper Class support for Affirmative Action is both a blocking tactic against upwardly mobile lower-class whites and a symbol of status.

Yet he can't apply the same analysis to himself wrt Iran and the threat it applies to the US. He'd rather display the correct and status-enhancing "feelings" than think things through.

Iran since 1979 has NOT been a nation-state with national interests. Khomeni explicity told reporters on the plane back to Tehran from Paris that he thought all nationalism EVEN (or especially) Iranian Nationalism was "pagan" and did not care about Iranians or the nation, ONLY the Islamic Revolution.

That has been orthodoxy in Iran's government ever since. Iran stirred up a lot of trouble and no benefit by starting hostilities with Israel in Lebanon through Hezbollah even though they both shared a common enemy: Saddam. Iran stirred up even more trouble by bombing Buenos Aires Jews who had nothing to do with Israel to no benefit and considerable risk to Iran. Israel being a tiny country of less than six million nowhere near Iran, and sharing enmity to Saddam's regime.

This continued in 1996 with the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Stupid on the face of it since America in Saudi helped contain ... SADDAM who was Iran's biggest and nearest enemy.

Iran has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" and also America while pursuing nuclear weapons. A move that on the face of it is stupid since it inhibits the ability of Iran's weapons program to operate without publicity. Given the default values of all Liberal Western Democracies to avoid fights unless forced: see Israel and Ehud Olmert.

Iran has gone out of it's way at considerable hurt to it's national interests to pick fight with America and Israel. Why?

It makes sense if Iran is seen not as a nation but an Islamic Revolution and the goal is world-wide Islamic Revolution which must first destroy the Great Satan (America) and then the little one (Israel).

Steve if he actually took the time to read what Khomeni wrote and said would find the continuity (no surprise since Iran is run by the same Mullahs who backed Khomeni) striking and not national. But internationally revolutionary ... but Islamic not communist.

IF Iran were a nation like China with national interests some deal could be struck and I'd agree with Steve wise US policy should dial down hostility.

But since all available data says it's not, the only reason to pretend the data does not exist is to display the right status ... not a good strategy for long term survival in a globalized world where Hezbollah can reach Buenos Aires. Or Los Angeles.

green mamba said...

So will Steve take this post down now that it's been revealed that the sailors are plenty unhappy about the way they were treated and not suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome" in the slightest?

And is anyone actually surprised that the sailors were coerced?

Anonymous said...

Yet he can't apply the same analysis to himself wrt Iran and the threat it applies to the US. He'd rather display the correct and status-enhancing "feelings" than think things through.

Exactly. Liberals aren't the only ones who step on their fellow citizens on their way up the status ladder.

I shudder at the prospect of a wider regional conflict, and anyone who's salivating over it deserves all of Steve's ridicule and scorn. But this post isn't about what to do with Iran, but rather how the Iranians "induce Stockholm Syndrome" by being "less brutal than the Americans".

As many others have pointed out, both the what and the how of that are false. Given the tentativeness betrayed in the post (but not in the title), Steve himself obviously saw that coming, too, but went ahead anyway presumably in pursuit of cheap applauses from his non-American readers. If the gambit works out (it doesn't for this non-American), then perhaps Steve can entertain us later with a post on "The easy way to seduce readers in Stockholm: Be more brutal on the Americans" or something similar.

Tom V

Bud said...

If I were a British (or American) serviceman patrolling Iran's land or water borders I would not take much comfort in the all the media condemnations of the 15 Brits who, after all, got home alive.
I'm a little surprised that none of the commenters who have jumped on Steve have mentioned the 'existential threat' Iran poses to Israel, or Iran's hosting David Duke. Y'all are getting lazy.

tommy said...

I know this probably comes as a shock to you all, but Iran is threatening to kidnap more Coalition military personnel. I guess the tough British response to this incident didn't exactly have the effect of cowing them. Who could have seen it coming?

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.

James Kabala said...

I wonder if Steve and John Derbyshire still get along. Their political views have diverged so much (which wouldn't necessarily prevent their being friends, but they both seem to have contempt for thise who think otherwise).

Bertie Bassett said...

Are their political views that far apart? Can you provide some examples?

green mamba said...

Speaking of Derbyshire, his column in the New English Review decrying the sailors for submitting to their captors and making the phony confessions was way off-base and sub-par for him (just as this post is sub-par for Steve). As a commenter on the thread accompanying that article pointed out, the sensible thing to do in such a situation is to play along and do what your captors demand. Any attempts at defiance are likely to be dangerous and counter-productive.

Vermont said...

I think Steve was merely being protective of his fellow sailors...

And the overreaction to the flippant line about American brutality indicates just how sensitive Americans are about the memory of Abu Ghraib.

Finally, the notion that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel is an insult to our collective intelligence.

Allen said...

Sailor Arthur Batchelor has revealed the contents of the gift bags the captives were given after being freed by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Batchelor - the youngest of the 15 British Navy personnel captured by Iran - complained they stole his £160 iPod, and gave him a "load of junk" in return.

The gift bag contained 11 books mostly aimed at converting the reader to Islam, with titles such as Youth And Morals, The Divine Invitation and Iran At A Glance.

He said a CD and DVD they were given did not work and other items included "toffees containing pistachio nuts".

Batchelor complained that the suit he was given to wear when leaving the country was cheap, tacky and did not fit, while the Hugo Boss shirt he was given was a fake.

He told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "I could pick up a better outfit at a jumble sale."


There is no fate that cannot be overcome by scorn.

tommy said...

As a commenter on the thread accompanying that article pointed out, the sensible thing to do in such a situation is to play along and do what your captors demand.

It may have been sensible from the standpoint of personal safety. However, I think the elevation of personal safety well beyond the sense of duty to country is exactly what Derbyshire is decrying. Derbyshire is absolutely right that we wouldn't have seen such behavior from previous generations. People probably would have been easier on these fifteen if they hadn't been so damn jubilant in the presence of the enemy. I mean, my god, when the Iranians have just denounced your country's behavior on camera, your natural reaction is to give out noogies? Was that necessary? How about maintaining some composure and self-respect? How about not disgracing yourself before the entire world?

Keith Olbermann promptly labeled Derbyshire one of his "worst people in the world" (for a day) for having dared suggest maybe they should have maintained their composure. Of course, I noticed he didn't respond similarly when fellow MSNBC personality, military analyst and Medal of Honor recipient, Jack Jacobs, said much worse.

Of course, many people will say that you can't judge them unless you've been in their shoes. "How would you know what you do in their situation?" people ask. But I would say that most honorable POWs have exactly the opposite attitude of those morally relative people. They would say "you had better know how you are going to act in such a situation."

And my goodness, now they are being allowed to sale their stories, usually against regulation in Britain. How farcical can this get?

Exit question: is this evidence of the feminization of the British Navy?

James Kabala said...

I spoke too loosely. It's not so much that Mr. Derbyshire and Mr. Sailer disagree on issues (especially now that Derb has renounced his once-ardent support for the Iraq War). Even on the Iranian prisoners, Steve's post and Derb's New English Review article don't really contradict each other -one could theoretically agree with everything in both articles without endorsing any explicitly opposite ideas. But underlying worldviews here and elsewhere about Middle East policy, proper use of the military, and national honor seem very antithetical.

tommy said...

Previously, I asked how farcical this could get. It can get very, very ridiculous:

John Tindell, the father of Joe Tindell, another of the hostages, said his son had turned down an offer of £10,000. “The MoD said if you want to earn money you are free to go out and do it. I was a bit surprised. The MoD said to the marines, ‘Go out there, tell the truth and make the money’.”

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


Shameless.

Sideways said...

The American navy (probably all military?) is pretty miffed by this.
to quote one I was just speaking to about the British sailors, "Those fucks wouldn't have gotten anywhere near a USN ship"