March 29, 2007


... And Prepare To Use Your Guns (DANIEL JOHNSON, March 29, 2007, NY Sun)

Remember the Iranian hostage crisis between 1979 and 1981? This, surely, was the lowest point in American foreign policy since 1945. The botched attempt to rescue the hostages defined the failure of the Carter presidency, just as their release indicated that the Reagan era would be different.

Well, now we have a new Iranian hostage crisis. By "we" I mean in the first instance the British. Last Friday, eight royal navy sailors and seven royal marines were taken prisoner by Iranian Revolutionary Guards while carrying out a routine inspection of a cargo ship, on the false pretext that they had entered Iranian waters illegally. This was unmistakably an act of war.

Since then, the Iranians have refused to give any information about the whereabouts of the captives, let alone consular access. All we know is that they are being interrogated and accused of espionage. There have been hints that a show trial is being prepared. So-called students have already held a mock trial of the hostages that ended in shouts of "death to Britain."

The Foreign Office reflex in these situations is to appease. It did so in a similar incident that occurred in 2004, when eight marines were captured. The Foreign Office prides itself on the fact that the marines were soon released. It omits to mention that the marines were physically abused by their guards and humiliated by being forced to grovel on Iranian television. One of their boats is on display in Tehran as a trophy.

The feeble British response three years ago will have emboldened the Iranians to go further this time. They know how these stories will be depicted in the Western press.

It's tragicomic the way we prod them to react and then find ourselves shocked and dismayed whenever they do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2007 7:49 AM

That attitude is no different from the guy or girl who fills their face with hardware then resent the people staring at them in disbelief or amusement. They want a reaction, but not the reaction they get.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 29, 2007 11:25 AM

One man's tragedy and comedy is another's subtlety. Really, they make it too easy sometimes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 29, 2007 1:47 PM