Sunday, April 08, 2007

Negotiated Release of British Soldiers Is Greeted With Outrage by War-Worshipping Neocons

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Yes, I admit it. I'm stunned by the collective explosion of outrage on the right over Iran's "inhumane" treatment of the 15 British soldiers who were recently released after almost two weeks in captivity. Fred Thompson's post at Redstate is typical [emphasis mine]:

Maybe it's because military action won't be needed or maybe it's just because the ordeal won't drag on and on, but the world is breathing easier now. A lot of folks are happy. The problem, as I see it, is that Ahmadinejad seems to be the happiest.

And why shouldn't he be? He has shown the world that his forces can kidnap British citizens, subject them to brutal psychological tactics to coerce phony confessions, finagle the release of a high-ranking Iranian terror coordinator in Iraq, utterly trash the Geneva conventions and suffer absolutely no consequences.

How DARE those godless heathens trash the Geneva Conventions? Don't they know that's a privilege reserved for us and those we authorize to act as our proxies?

Terry Jones takes the uncivilized Persians to task:

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.

And what's all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It's time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That's one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn't rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it's just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What's more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting "stress positions", which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It's all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer - whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

And then there's that infuriating smile on Ahmadinejad's face. It's a sad day indeed when our best ally conspires with our worst enemy to humiliate us by negotiating a peaceful end to a hostage situation before we even have a chance to bomb them, or choke off their oil supply with a Naval blockade (h/t Glenn Greenwald).

Patriotboy has more on this:

Now that Iran has released the British prisoners, and without anyone having to go to war over them, it's possible to direct some sober and critical attention to some of the "advice" being given to American and British leaders by America's neoconservatives. There is a clear, unmistakable theme running throughout their commentary that revolves around the contrasting concepts of power and impotence — usually focused on a need for America to demonstrate how powerful it is and, at the same time, how weak everyone else is.

Glenn Greenwald dubs [...] it the "Abu Ghraib Theory of Foreign Affairs," but I think he's being a bit too kind in labeling it a mere theory. It's not simply an idea, but the basic underlying principle of neoconservative political policy and should be treated as such: Bush's Abu Ghraib Doctrine of Foreign Affairs. On one hand you'll see the promotion of "manly virtues," almost all of which are related to a willingness to engage in violence and humiliation towards others; on the other hand, you'll see the denigration of everything which makes a culture or nation weak — like, for example, an unwillingness to use violence to degrade and humiliate others.

Ralph Peters (among many others on the right) is furious with the hostages themselves, for not sacrificing their lives in a doomed but glorious attempt to kill their captors and for saying nice things about them after being freed. His April 3 column in the New York Post drips with venom:

THE greatest shock from the Middle East this year hasn't been terrorist ruthlessness or the latest Iranian tantrum. It's that members of Britain's Royal Marines wimped out in a matter of days and acquiesced in propaganda broadcasts for their captors.

Jingoism aside, I can't imagine any squad of U.S. Marines behaving in such a shabby, cowardly fashion. Our Marines would have fought to begin with. Taken captive by force, they would've resisted collaboration. To the last man and woman.

You could put a U.S. Marine in a dungeon and knock out his teeth, but you wouldn't knock out his pride in his country and the Corps. "Semper fi" means something.

And our Aussie allies would be just as tough.

What on earth happened to the Royal Marines? They're members of what passes for an elite unit. Has the Labor government's program to gut the U.K. military - grounding planes, taking ships out of service and deactivating army units - also ripped the courage from the breasts of those in uniform?

The female sailor who broke down first and begged for her government to surrender was pathetic enough. But when Royal Marines started pleading for tea and sympathy . . . Ma, say it ain't so!

Meanwhile, back at No. 10 "Downer" Street, British politicians are more upset that President Bush described their sailors and Marines as "hostages" than they are with the Iranians.

Okay, Lord Spanker and Lady Fanny - what exactly are those sailors and Marines? Package tourists?

Naturally, the European Union has praised Britain's "restraint." We've now got another synonym for cowardice.

I've always respected the Brits and quite liked those I worked with when in uniform . . . but I'm starting to wonder if I bought into a legend. While criticizing our military's approach to everything, the Brits made an utter balls of it in Basra - now they're bailing out, claiming "Mission accomplished!" (OK, they had a role model . . .) In Heaven, Winston Churchill's puking up premium scotch.

The once-proud Brit military has collapsed to a sorry state when its Royal Marines surrender without a fight, then apologize to their captors (praising their gentle natures!) while criticizing their own country. Pretty sad to think that the last real warriors fighting under the Union Jack are soccer hooligans.

Of course, bravery isn't equally distributed. One or even two collaborators might be explicable. But not all 15.

Yes, journalists and other civilian captives routinely make embarrassing statements on videos, chiding their governments and begging to be swapped for a battalion of mass murderers. One expects nothing better. But military men and women in the English-speaking tradition historically maintained high standards over long years in brutal captivity - and this hostage situation has barely lasted long enough to microwave a bag of popcorn.

Think about Sen. John McCain with his broken limbs undergoing torture in that Hanoi prison - and refusing an early chance to be repatriated because he wouldn't leave his comrades behind. Think he'd do a Tokyo Rose for Tehran?

The Iranians judged their victims well: The British boat crews didn't make even a token effort at defending themselves. Now their boo-hoo-we-quit government isn't defending them, either. Was Margaret Thatcher the last real man in Britain?

The correct response to the seizure of 15 British military hostages - if not released promptly - would've been to hit 15 Revolutionary Guards facilities or vessels along the Iranian coast, then threaten to hit 30 deeper inland the next day.

By hammering the now-degenerate Revolutionary Guards, the Coalition would've strengthened the less-nutty and less-vicious regular military and emboldened President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's growing number of opponents within the government. (It was telling that the Revolutionary Guards could only muster about 200 demonstrators to harass the British embassy - it didn't look much like 1979.)

Instead, we allowed the Iranian hardliners to humiliate a once-great military and encourage hostage-takers everywhere.

At the very least, the British naval officer commanding in the zone of operations and the vocal collaborators among the hostages should be court-martialed. And the Royal Marine company to which those wankers belong should be disbanded and stricken from the rolls.

John Bull has been cowed. By a pack of unshaven thugs. And the Britannia that ruled the waves is waving goodbye.

Of course, if the hostages had fought back and been killed, Peters and his ilk would have lauded them as heroes who deserved our support and our heartfelt thanks and admiration. "These brave soldiers who gave their lives to stand up to terrorists...." Can't you just hear it now? How can we support them if they stayed alive?

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

"Now their boo-hoo-we-quit government isn't defending them, either. Was Margaret Thatcher the last real man in Britain?"

Nah, she wasn't, b/c she was totally overrated from the get-go. Interesting how Thatcher's own pathetic capitulation on Hong Kong is so often glossed over, and her screw-ups with the IRA also get the kid-glove treatment. The truth is, Thatcher faced a pathetically weak enemy in the form of the corrupt, laughingstock Argentinian dictator government in 1982-- against tougher adversaries, she was as pathetic as Blair.

Britain still had full say over Hong Kong during the 1980's (the "99-year lease" with return to China applied only to the Kowloon territories). Yet China came in with an attitude toward Thatcher and basically *demanded*-- not negotiated, demanded-- that the UK turn over HK. The Thatcher government panicked when it looked as though China was starting to move gunboats into the South China Sea, and basically handed over HK gift-wrapped. This was even *after* Tiananmen Square had occurred. Weird, because this was like a mirror image of the Opium Wars when British gunboats were in there. (Though, truth be told, even back then British strength was exaggerated-- the same year that the British got Hong Kong, 1842, an entire British army of over 15,000 managed to get massacred against lethal warriors in Afghanistan. Defeated the British and expelled them for good from Central Asia.)

Against the IRA, the Thatcher government couldn't do anything right. The IRA was at its fiercest and most successful in the 1980's, even bombing a building where the PM herself had been staying and, as always, escaping with impunity. Thatcher clumsily tried fruitless negotiations at times, at other times tried military operations which inevitably backfired (the IRA loved to set traps to kill British soldiers who got too close to the lion's den). The IRA made a fool out of Thatcher the way the Iranians have made a fool out of Blair. The IRA also did so much damage that they contributed to the British economic nastiness that was ultimately critical in tossing Thatcher out on her ear.

So, I dunno. Blairite Britain looks bad, but Thatcherite Britain was also marginally better in its "toughness" quotient.