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Double standard (yawn)

The invaluable Belmont Club points out the double standards of the "anti-war" side.

Captain Ed notes that Iran has blatantly announced it is going to violate the Geneva Conventions, but no one in the press or the human rights community seems to notice Iran announced tonight that the 15 British sailors captured off the coast of Iraq would get indicted as spies. … Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

Of course, an essential element of the “espionage” under the Geneva Conventions is being out of uniform, and the British sailors seized by the Iranians were in uniform, so the sailors are of course not guilty of espionage. Belmont Club observes:

As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes – all while wearing mufti or even women’s clothing – these are all considered “freedom fighters” of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention.

A note to those who howl so loudly about Guantanamo, and are silent about Iran and its allies: When your principles are so flexible, and always to the detriment of one side, do not be surprised when people wonder if you are truly “anti-war” or just “on the other side”.

56 comments to Double standard (yawn)

  • Nick M

    I dunno. The trick with spying is to always do the unexpected. blatantly entering another country in full uniform is definitely the last thing they’d expect.

  • I suddenly realized just now that this situation is quite similar to the kidnapping of the 2 Israeli soldiers by the Hizbullah last summer. If those guys are not released within a few days (and I sure hope they will be), then they are probably not going to be released at all. I (as I am sure everyone else) am very interested to see what Blair’s response to this will be.

  • Nick M

    Yes Alisa, it’s very similar. Even down to the dispute over which side of the border they were on. I think the most that Blair can do is break diplomatic relations and fund every dissident group we can find in Iran.

  • h2o273kk9

    Yes, I noticed the BLINDFOLDED prisoners being led away. Wait! How can that be? They were photographed! I thought that was a faux pas.

  • Some of us are anti-war, anti-guantanemo and all that, but we are also against the actiions of countries like Iran, terrorist groups like Hezbollah and everything we’re assumed to support.

    Guantanamo is unjustifiable from a liberal/libertarian point of view- it is a violation of the rule of law, it goes against the principles of western democracy.
    No amount of ‘but they’re bad guys’ gets around that.

    Iran and Hezbollah’s actions are equally unjustifiable.

    Unfortunately too many people don’t take this view. They oppose the war for the wrong reasons, they are simply anti-American, anti-Israel and therefore the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    They are part of the enemy. The other part is those who seek to use terrorism and fear to reduce the liberties and rights of any person and to set themselves up above the rule of law.

  • Although I don’t remember Hizbullah claiming they were spies. Even if we did spy on them we did a pretty lousy job of that…

  • Nick M, Blair could do alot more than that, he could sit one of our nuclear subs off the coast of Iran (very obviously), and evacuate all foreign nationals from Tehran. Then inform the Iranian government that they have 24 hours to return our troops, and their equipment, intact and unharmed or Tehran is a smoking radioactive hole. If they try and call our bluff, push the button. We lose 15 troops and show the Islamic world that we will not have it any more. Fair trade if you ask me, and alot neater than the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    After the smoke clears from the use of our very big stick, we show them that we can indeed talk softly, and offer any assistance they may need in the areas of humanitarian aid, but leave the rebuilding of their infrastructure and government in their hands as punishment for incurring our wrath.
    If Iran wants to force a confrontation give them one that they have no hope of winning. Its what these weapons are for, if we don’t make some use of them then they are nothing more than very expensive radioactive paperweights.

  • Otis

    One solution surely is to kidnap 15 Iranian servicemen. Don’t announce it publicly (after all, you have to give the Iranians a face-saving way out) but make it quite clear that whatever happens to our boys/girl will happen to theirs (though our Iranian prisoners might, say fall off the side of the ship in shark-infested waters – rather than the messier head-hacking).

  • The Dude

    Raise a few Iranian military bases to the ground. No real need to involve civilians and achieves largely the same thing.

  • Pa Annoyed

    I appreciate that people are getting angry about this (and I have to say “good!” to that) but even I think all this talk of dusting off and nuking them from space ain’t exactly realistic. Iran imprisons people for crimes they haven’t committed or aren’t really crimes in a sane world all the time. Why is it any different now just because they’re British? (Is that double standards?)

    It’s not that I don’t feel the same way; it’s just that I don’t think it would work. We would very quickly be seen as the criminals, and what was left of the Islamists would galvanise the world’s support behind them. It would be 9/11 in reverse.

    There’s plenty we could do if we had the will, though. Now that our guys aren’t keeping international waters safe, perhaps a bunch of pirates from parts unknown could get through and sabotage all the Iranian oil terminals. That would be terrible! And our sympathies would go out to Iran in its misfortune.
    And if Russia and China don’t like that, maybe they could stop playing games and do something more effective to reign Iran in. The oil price spike would be unfortunate, but I’m sure that we can better afford it than they can.
    I think such a scenario would be a bit of an over-reaction too, or it will once people calm down after the immediate reaction, but it is at least conceivable.

    Most likely though, we’ll just go round the smoke-filled back rooms of Europe – and all the trade deals Iran has in the pipeline will mysteriously hit delays and snags, or unexpected price rises. Iranian businesses will suddenly get hit with inspections and additional regulations. Food will still be getting in of course but at much higher prices. People will be calling debts in, and not extending loans, and demanding cash up front. We normally don’t do that sort of thing because frankly we want Iran trading with us, in debt to us, and therefore dependant on us. If you hit them with the big stick over a minor matter, (and emotions aside, 15 sailors is a minor matter internationally, certainly compared to the nuke issue) you have nothing left to hit them with over major ones.

    Unfortunately, Iran are playing this close enough to legally that anyone who automatically sees the West as the bad guy is going to be hard to convince that this is something we should do something about. In Iran, Iranian law applies, and not just to Iranians. If they were in Iranian waters (and we only have the British’ word for it that they weren’t) then Iran are entitled to arrest them, and entitled to put them on trial for espionage even if what they did wasn’t, and should an Iranian jury come to the wrong verdict… well, it will go down pretty badly on the Muslim Street if even a wrong Muslim court is over-ruled and convicted spies get off because of what is perceived to be Western political pressure. So much for being anti-corruption. It’s the penalty of the Westphalian approach to international law, that people like the Mullahs of Iran are granted legitimacy and power over people.

  • veryretired

    The international leftist movement, and, specifically, the American leftist coalition, has always opposed any actions by the West in self defense. The only time they supported western military action was after Germany attacked the Soviet Union in WW2, and that was a complete 180 degree about face on the direct orders of the Comintern.

    Any opponent of the west gets a pass. Always have, always will.

    The left has been a fifth column in western society for over a century. It has no other agenda than the dismantling of representative democratic government, the abolition of any form of free enterprise and private property, and the imposition of a total political state, in which all questions, great and small, are decided politically by the “vanguard of the proletariat”.

    That last idea might sound comically dated and silly, but it is fervently believed by the very socialist workers’ cadres and international answer types who organize the great majority of these big media event marches and demonstrations, such as those last week around the US.

    That sponsorship was studiously ignored by most of the MSM, btw, as it might detract from the purity of the anti-war message.

    The only “anti-war” message that has ever been transmitted is that it is illegitimate for the west to defend itself from attack. Just watch how big an effort is made to brand any but the mildest reaction from Britain about these missing soldiers as “hysteria” and “excessively militaristic” etc., etc.

    Anyone who is disappointed by the lack of consistency and seeming one-sidedness of the “peace movement” just hasn’t been paying attention.

    (And please, to the indignant person above, please don’t bother telling me how you are different. The people you march with and support are exactly what I said they are—and you are a “useful idiot” whose entire function is to provide camouflage for those who run the show)

    Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

  • Would these guys have been Commandos even in Maggie’s day?
    I have to ask, entirely without prejudice of course, but didn’t Jeremy Clarkson’s “St. Nazaire” documentary reveal that a ‘Commando’ was somebody who would man a two-pounder on an MGB against a full-blown destroyer and repeatedly reply to demands to surrender by shooting, until he was finally killed?
    Or were Commandos supposed to be the guys who fought their way through 5000 hostile troops until they walked 350 miles through hostile territory to the nearest neutral border?
    Straighten me out here.
    I’m a little confused.

  • Nick M

    mandrill,
    Alisa asked what Blair would do. Somebody with rather more credibility might be able to achieve more but the British public is not going to be up for another adventure in the Middle East under his Tonyness.

    The idea of abducting Iranian soldiers on the sly is pointless. We’re talking about a country that used it’s soldiers boots to clear minefields in human-wave attacks.

    I think in general with rogue states we’ve got to find ways to hurt & kill the leadership. Difficult but not impossible.

  • Freeman

    Pietr:

    These unfortunate marines were under orders: they had to obey the local Rules of Engagement.
    Things were different in WWII.

  • Would these guys have been Commandos even in Maggie’s day?
    I have to ask, entirely without prejudice of course, but didn’t Jeremy Clarkson’s “St. Nazaire” documentary reveal that a ‘Commando’ was somebody who would man a two-pounder on an MGB against a full-blown destroyer and repeatedly reply to demands to surrender by shooting, until he was finally killed?
    Or were Commandos supposed to be the guys who fought their way through 5000 hostile troops until they walked 350 miles through hostile territory to the nearest neutral border?
    Straighten me out here.
    I’m a little confused.Posted by Pietr Van Helsing at March 25, 2007 07:19 PM

    Pietr, it is all to do with ROE (Rules of Engagement). Unfortunately for us Brits, these are decided by NuLab politicians advised by Civil Service Mandarins in Whitehall from MOD and the Foreign Office (a.k.a. Surrender Central).

    If comments on Little Green Footballs are to be believed, the Commanding Officer of HMS Corwall was told by the chain of command not to react with force. This is completely alien to the traditions of Her Britanic Majesty’s Royal Navy. All I can put it down to is that thanks to decades of cuts by NuLab and previous Tory administrations, we no longer have a Navy worthy of the name (what naval commander in his right mind sends a single unprotected ship into contested seas?) That and our being good ‘Europeans’ – we just don’t do that nasty fighting stuff any more.

    I suggest you go over to AARSE’s Rum Ration(Link) to see what they are saying about it. Many are trying to emigrate to Australia – they have better prospects in their Navy than ours, and have a government with some real balls when it comes to dealing with Islamofacism on their own territory instead of the surrender-monkeys of NuLab and the Cameroonies.

  • “One solution surely is to kidnap 15 Iranian servicemen. Don’t announce it publicly (after all, you have to give the Iranians a face-saving way out) but make it quite clear that whatever happens to our boys/girl will happen to theirs (though our Iranian prisoners might, say fall off the side of the ship in shark-infested waters – rather than the messier head-hacking).”

    Cherie Booth QC would be on to it like shit off a shovel.

  • What will Blair do? Simple,he’ll leave this shit for Gordon Brown to clear up.
    Anybody got a spare Green Card?

  • magnetic north

    As someone at ARRSE pointed out, intervention by HMS Cornwall might have resulted in – as well as Iranian casualties – the deaths of the fifteen now captive.

    Also, for those who would like to see us bombing Iran, consider the similarity with last year’s events in the Lebanon. The Israelis didn’t get their men back, so failed in one of their announced war aims, and Hezbollah came out plausibly claiming victory. A rerun would suit Ahmedinejad fine.

    While I’m comparing this to Lebanon, didn’t an Israeli armoured vehicle cross the border in immediate pusuit of the captives, only to be detroyed by a large mine? The Cornwall might have had a couple of modern anti-ship missiles trained on it from the shore.

  • Point taken.
    Rules Of Engagement.

  • Arty

    That’s right Magnetic North, it’s best not to resist. It can go bad against you either on the spot or later in court if there’s Iranian casualties. I didn’t realize the law against defending yourself extended to the British Navy.

  • As someone at ARRSE pointed out, intervention by HMS Cornwall might have resulted in – as well as Iranian casualties – the deaths of the fifteen now captive.

    So? There is always a risk of that happening when you defend yourself.

    Also, for those who would like to see us bombing Iran, consider the similarity with last year’s events in the Lebanon. The Israelis didn’t get their men back, so failed in one of their announced war aims, and Hezbollah came out plausibly claiming victory. A rerun would suit Ahmedinejad fine.

    There is no similarity whatsoever because Iran is not military state-within-a-state with no actual interest in maintaining the infrastructure of that state. Israel bombed Lebanon but Lebanon did not take the Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah did, and they do not care how many roads and bridges get blown up.

    Iran on the other hand has a vulnerable oil industry and all the apparatus of a nation-state that is does not want to see blasted into little bits. An attack from Hezbollah comes with a very tentative return address, that is not the case with any action by the Iranian state.

  • R C Dean

    Some of us are anti-war, anti-guantanemo and all that, but we are also against the actiions of countries like Iran, terrorist groups like Hezbollah and everything we’re assumed to support.

    And good for you, Tristan.

    But it is odd that so many highly visible and vocal proponents of strict readings of Geneva are oddly silent when obvious violations by anyone other than the US or its coalition partners are in view.

  • Nick: told it’s depressing. But I am sure you knew that already:-|

    Pa:

    If you hit them with the big stick over a minor matter, (and emotions aside, 15 sailors is a minor matter internationally, certainly compared to the nuke issue) you have nothing left to hit them with over major ones.

    The upside is that there will be no major ones left.

  • Nick M

    Perry,
    But how much damage, how easily could the UK/US do to Iran? I mean short of a full-scale war. Could we do enough to tip the people against their government? Do we have links with underground groups there that are well enough organised and large enough? How much popular resentment is there against the mullahs?

    I just don’t see how short of all-out war (against a much tougher nut to crack than Saddam’s Iraq) or massive nuclear strikes we have any short-term realisitc option which amounts to much more than bugger-all* and Ahmanidinjad knows it. He also knows that the US/UK public just won’t wear it. Unfortunately, time is running short…

    We of course should have been working on this since ’79. Perhaps working our way through a list of every nut-job to graduate from Qom.

    aka Jimmy Carter’s Revenge

  • !As someone at ARRSE pointed out, intervention by HMS Cornwall might have resulted in – as well as Iranian casualties – the deaths of the fifteen now captive.”

    Well why have the warship HMS Cornwall their at all? May as well send the Isle of Wight Ferry.

    Basic problems there was only the Cornwall,that our limp wristed metrosexual rulers won’t fund the armed forces.Blair is in this to look good on the world stage,he doesn’t give a toss about the hostages.
    Bloody hell even the French could turn up with the Charles De Gaulle,even if they had to tow her there.

  • magnetic north

    “it’s best not to resist. It can go bad against you either on the spot or later in court if there’s Iranian casualties. I didn’t realize the law against defending yourself extended to the British Navy.”

    “Would these guys have been Commandos even in Maggie’s day?”

    May I refer you both to events in the South Atlantic 25 years ago? On South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, Royal Marines fought, but surrendered before suffering their first fatality. For those in the inflatable boats in the Gulf, there was no chance to put up resistance before the suffering of serious casualties.

    Pietr Van Helsing was no doubt impressed by the conduct of Marines later in the Falklands War, without making surrender monkey accusations based on what happened on Day One. If you worry about the Royal Marines today, look at what is happening in Helmand. They still know how to fight.

    Perry de Havilland’s first point is trivially true. The point is not that risk always exists. It is that commanders must weigh the risks in taking decisions. I object to whole threads full of armchair warriors criticising the people whose lives are really at risk, without knowing anything like the full facts.

  • magnetic north

    Perry’s second point at 1028 is a reasonable one, but I think it is wrong. The Iranians may well be prepared to suffer considerable damage, which will be repaired after the ceasefire, at which point they will still hold our personnel. The Iranian nation will be united against the outside enemy.Their stock in the islamic world will be at an all-time high, and we will be more hated than ever.

    Consider Walid Phares on 23rd March Counterterrorism Blog http://counterterrorismblog.org/ :

    “2) The regime “needs” an external clash to crush the domestic challenge.

    As in many comparable cases worldwide, when an authoritarian regime is faced with severe internal opposition it attempts to deflect the crisis onto the outside world. Hence, Teheran’s all out campaign against the US and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and the region is in fact a repositioning of Iran’s shield against the expected rising opposition inside the country. Hence the Khomeinist Mullahs plan seem to be projected as follow:

    a. Engage in the diplomatic realm, to project a realist approach worldwide, but refrain from offering real results

    b. Continue, along with the Syrian regime, in supporting the “Jihadi” Terror operations (including sectarian ones) inside Iraq

    c. Widen the propaganda campaign against the US and its allies via a number of PR companies within the West, to portray Iran as “a victim” of an “upcoming war provoked by the US.”

    d. Engage in skirmishes in the Gulf (and possibly in other spots) with US and British elements claiming these action as “defensive,” while planned thoroughly ahead of time.

    3) The regime plan is to drag its opponents into a trap

    Teheran’s master planners intend to drag the “Coalition” into steps in engagement, at the timing of and in the field of control of Iran’s apparatus. Multiple options and scenarios are projected.

    a. British military counter measure takes place, supported by the US. Iran’s regime believe that only “limited” action by the allies is possible, according to their analysis of the domestic constraints inside the two powerful democracies.

    b. Tehran moves to a second wave of activities, at its own pace, hoping to draw a higher level of classical counter strikes by US and UK forces. The dosing by Iran’s leadership is expected to stretch the game in time, until the departure of Blair and of the Bush Administration by its political opponents inside the country’s institutions and public debate. ”

  • The point is still an armed warship allowed gunboats from Iran to approach the landing parties. Why did the Cornwall warn off the gunboats?

  • But how much damage, how easily could the UK/US do to Iran? I mean short of a full-scale war.

    Immense damage. I suggest you take a look at the strategic air bombing against Yugoslavia. The tactical bombing against Serbian military targets in Kosova was not very effective (the Serbs were very good at fooling the US air tasking people with dummy targets and by moving assets and hiding them)… so then why did the Serbs cave? Because their country was having its key infrastructure blasted out of existence and in the end Kosova just was not worth it to the guys in Belgrade.

    Similarly Iran’s transportation, oil and (above all) nuclear infrastructure can be blown to bits by the USAF/USN. Do not think Iran is one of those ‘so primitive all you are doing is re-arranging the rocks of their stone huts with your million dollar bombs’ type countries… these guys are not Afghanistan. They have real pretensions of being a ‘serious’ country and they will not just shrug their shoulders at what could happen to them in a strategic air war. Sure, the state is run by religious nutters which means they are unpredictable, but they will not provoke that result lightly if they feel their bluff is really being called over something that is not really that crucial to them.

  • Well I had to wonder. Thanks for the reminder about South Georgia; they shot down a helicopter and severely damaged a gun boat too.
    But the Marines at Stanley were all for going into the Falklands hinterland and going on the run while keeping up a guerilla.
    Governor Rex Hunt was invited along, at which stage he persuaded them to surrender.

  • I suspect the Revolutionary Guard wants this to spiral out of control, giving them the opportunity to kick off what they have been itching to do – invade Iraq, using the British forces as a proxy for the occupation.

    Such an incident “absolves them” of obeying the UN etc as it is “self defence”.

    What irks me is the denial of permission given to the Marines to defend themselves. Conspiracy theorists could argue that Blair wants this incident.

  • not the Alex above

    If rights are to mean anything, then applying them to those who you hate or know won’t reciprocate is paramount, otherwise they are just decrees.

    I don’t think attacking Iran is the way forward, they did this to try a split the international concensus that is forming over the nuclear , lets not play into thier hands.

    I’ve read a few articles recently about how badly the economy is doing. Even merchants in the the Grand Bazaar where the islamic revolution started are not so happy with the way the country is being run.

    Someone metioned above the sudden hardening of trade deals and the like with Iran, i think this is the way forward.

  • Nick M

    Perry, point taken. I’m aware that Iran isn’t that backward.

    I just wonder if that sort of destruction would destabilise the regime in such a way that opposition to the mullahs might have a fair chance of succeding. Or might it do the opposite. Strategic bombing has a very mixed rate of success.

    Essentially, who is the average Iranian going to blame? How many South Lebanese now believe Hezbollah are the culprits for what the IDF did to their infrastructure?

    We have to weaken the mullahs’ control of Iran and I’m not sure wrecking the place’s economy is the way ahead on that.

    It might be a plan to directly disrupt the Revolutionary Guards who don’t especially seem to popular with the Iranians themselve and are afterall the people who took our folks.

  • anyonebutblair

    Nick M
    Maybe two responses to the kidnapping of our boys would be to tell Iran to release them or
    1) We will take out Iran’s navy so they cannot threaten our legal (under a UN security council resolution) stop n’ search actions
    2) We will take out Iran’s republican guard at the naval base that took our boys as a retaliation

  • Nick M

    anyonebutblair,

    I’d got to thinking along similar lines. I also wonder if we can drag out some old statute on piracy (which is motives notwithstanding) is essentially what the Iranians did. We can escalate this to a general interdiction of Iranian shipping. We don’t have to sink things, we could just make life tricky very. This of course could be escalated into sinking things. Only then do we cross the rubicon of actually attacking things in Iran.

    I’m really at a loss. The Iranians just don’t seem to be playing the same game as we are just like Hitler wasn’t in the 30s.

    I take it from your name that you’re a Brownite ;-)

  • anyonebutblair

    Nick M
    Personally I think Brown is worse than Blair (if that is possible)…….but Blair is PM so the champagne is on ice for when he gracefully departs/resigns due to pending criminal charges/is forced out by a restless Labour party delete as appropriate lol
    On the Iranians, one way to bake thier eyes water is to both take out their navy and blockade the shipments of petrol (gasoline for our American friends) going into Iran. They have no refining facilities of note and would very shortly run out of gas.
    Sadly I think you are right that they are basically pirates, and they only respect force. I doubt they would taken US navy personell / Marines as they see us Brits as soft. Oh to have Maggie back…..

  • anyonebutblair

    Nick M
    Personally I think Brown is worse than Blair (if that is possible)…….but Blair is PM so the champagne is on ice for when he gracefully departs/resigns due to pending criminal charges/is forced out by a restless Labour party delete as appropriate lol
    On the Iranians, one way to make their eyes water is to both take out their navy and then blockade the shipments of petrol (gasoline for our American friends) going into Iran. They have no refining facilities of note and would very shortly run out of gas.
    Sadly I think you are right that they are basically pirates, and they only respect force. I doubt they would taken US navy personell / Marines as they see us Brits as soft. Oh to have Maggie back…..I await with interest Blairs next move, perhaps getting the UN to write them a really stiff letter, or calling amireallymad and telling him that he is really upset about this

  • magnetic north

    my pleasure, Pietr Van H.

    What I suggest we take from the Walid Phares article, is not to be provoked as planned. Treat the Iranians as reasonable people. Who knows, we may get our people back, through diplomatic work. Maybe Iran is run by reasonable men after all.

    If Iran’s rulers want a war, let them make it clearer; let the British people see it so clearly that support for action will be durable. If war comes, Iran will plan for UK public opinion to have the British government suing for peace long before Iran has to make any concessions. The government are negligent if they take the nation to war without enough material resources to last the course. The same might apply to moral resources.

  • Michiganny

    Quick aside to Veryretired,

    As always, it is a pleasure to read your comments. One thing I disagree with is the idea that everybody against the war is somehow affiliated with the “anti-war movement.” Even if those demonstrations you cite have hundreds of thousands of attendees, they are mere drops in the swimming pool for a nation of 300 million souls. Perhaps there are even a couple of million members of the “anti-war movement.”

    When only 41% of the military are for the war and most Americans and some leading Republican senators are against it, do you really think the majority of anti-war Americans are really saying they want to lay down between Julian and Ethel Rosenberg? Notice I did not say between Mrs. Rosenberg and Jane Fonda. That would tempt anybody, even if Ethel is, well, dead.

    For as much as I love the word “cadre,” I do not see any evidence that this vanguard is leading anybody except their own selves. After all, they were huffing and puffing during Shock and Awe and it did not stop anything. Can you show us evidence to bolster your thesis that most troops, my barber, and Chuck Hagel have been co-opted? My conclusion is that America has arrived at a similar conclusion about the war for reasons altogether separate from those of the VW Microbus-driving and lentil-eating set. Whether Paul Robeson was the deciding factor the US entered the second world war against Germany is a topic for another day.

    Regarding the abduction of the British 15, perhaps we need to look at what Iran wants to accomplish and the cheapest way to counter them before we kill every living thing, human or otherwise, between the Mediterranean and the Pacific. Perhaps there are solutions with fewer externalities.

    Here are plausible goals of Iran:
    A) They are trying to change the subject from their nuclear program.
    B) They would love to cause dissent in the west.
    C) They are playing to the street of the Islamic world. This is defined as stupid people who happen to be Muslims.
    D) They are trying to make Iranians forget that their economy is in tatters.

    How we can counter this:
    A) Decline to make publicity out of confronting Iran over this.
    B) Continue supporting dissent within Iranian society. Perhaps it is time for another bus of Iranian soldiers to explode. Here is something even more out there: If Iran wants European weapons, we should let them have them and many, many more. We just get to decide which Iranians get them. In a society ruled by oppression and force, would not sending 50-cals, AKs, and 9mm pistols show we really care about the average citizen? Would they not be useful tools in the hands of ethnic minorities and those who, say, dislike being beaten on the street for what they are wearing?
    C) Play to the western street. This is defined as stupid people who happen to live in the west. If American weekend sports programs and the Olympics are any indication, every westerner with a soft head will be aflame after viewing montages featuring abductee relatives (or more palatably Tony Blair) beachwalking, interviews of old teachers and coaches, and a complete dearth of information about how we are fomenting domestic terrorism within Iran.
    D) The Iranian economy is junk. Sanctions, abductions, civil unrest, invasion, or anything else will not make Iranians forget that they are broke and getting broker. Ahmadinejad is screwed.

  • If Iran’s rulers want a war, let them make it clearer

    Iran’s rulers don’t want war, since they seem to be able to achieve anything they want without it. There used to be times, though, when attacking another country’s ship and taking 15 of their soldiers as prisoners would be the clearest indication to the contrary. Times change.

  • magnetic north

    “Iran’s rulers don’t want war, since they seem to be able to achieve anything they want without it. ”

    They have 15 captives. That is not what they want. They may want a trade for men in American hands, but it’s not up to them whether they get that. Phares’s analysis seems most convincing: what they want is a reaction that works out to their advantage.

    “Times change.” Yes. Public opinion and world opinion are not what they were in the past. We have to deal with present reality.

    Iran may be trying to out-think its rivals, including the UK. We should not act as though we are so strong that we don’t need subtlety or patience.

  • Jso

    As someone at ARRSE pointed out, intervention by HMS Cornwall might have resulted in – as well as Iranian casualties – the deaths of the fifteen now captive.

    Yes, better to be captured by a terrorist regime than to oppose it.

    Most likely overheard in the dungeons of Iran now:

    “Prying off my fingernails I can understand, but no tea? That is the last straw!”

  • veryretired

    Dear Michganny,

    I have been watching the professional anti-war movement since the 50′s—it is led and directed by the hard left. Of course there are other people against the war, that doesn’t negate where the leadership comes from, and what their ultimate motivations and aims are.

    Just as an aside, your figures cited are suspect.

    When you affiliate yourself with a movement, it is best to know who is driving the bus, and where it’s going. The leftist anti-war movement, along with its dupes, useful idiots, and naive feel-gooders, has been on the wrong side of almost every important international question for over a century, including WW2.

    Shannon Love has posted some very detailed analysis of the left’s track record since the ’60′s over at Chocagoboyz, I suggest you take a look at it.

    It’s always nice and feel good to be against war and all for peace. It’s the price that matters, not just the sentiment.

  • AndyMo

    Oh nonsense. Being anti war and anti gauntanamo does not mean I support Iran in any way. Iran (or Saudi A) is a backwards regime where prisoners are regularly mistreated. We do not expect the US to mistreat/torture its prisoners.

    Don’t be idiotic, surely you can understand this concept. Please tell me you can??

    Attempting to muddle the issue and claim anti war proponents are pro Iran is blatantly dishonest and is often the point of attack used by the ra ra USA USA crowd. Sick.

  • DuncanS

    Veryrtired,

    Are you really saying that one is either
    1) A war supporter, specifically of the current war
    or
    2) A leftest enemy of America, or at least a supporter of said leftest enemy of America?

    I find this dichotomy disturbing. Especially from my favorite Samizdata commenter… (ever since Toolkien seems to have fled the scene.)

    I respect your opinions and views and really want some clarification on this one. I get your point, but there has to be another position where one can be against *this* particular war?

    Does anti-war in this context mean the current war in Iraq? Or just war in general?

    Duncan

  • “…do not be surprised when people wonder if you are truly ‘anti-war’ or just ‘on the other side’.”

    There’s no wondering involved. They ARE on the other side.

  • SixFootPole

    well, you’ve got a false comparison going there. Plus a dash of pointless generalization and a hint of ad hominem. Whatever. This is why I quit reading this blog years ago. Sorry that I came back. Shant make that error again.

    [editor's note: not to worry as I am sure we'll eventually get over the trauma caused by your continued absence]

  • Nick M

    Many of the “anti-war” protestors are essentially anti-western. Obviously it is possible to be pro/anti a specific war but to pretend that the current anti-war faction is very largely politically rather than pacifically motivated is nonsense. Just go ask them about the Intifada. Is that right?

  • veryretired

    The original post and the discussion at the Belmont Club are about the organized tranzi-run international human rights and anti-war movement. That is the group the post is about, and the group I am talking about.

    If you and your Aunt Tilly oppose this war, some other war, or all wars in general, that fact alone doesn’t put you in that group.

    If, however, you can always find the time to march against the US, but never against any other violent state, then it may just be the case that your motives are not so noble and transcendental as you would like to believe, but rather more politically partisan.

    If it makes you uncomfortable to find yourself in the same room as the Socialist Workers and International Answer crowd, leave the room. I don’t care what you personally support or oppose, but I do object to the company you and so many of your friends keep.

    Look, there were anti-war people called Copperheads during the Civil War whose motives were all pure as the driven snow, or so they said, but the fact is that if they had prevailed, the Union would have split, and a slave based CSA staggered into the latter part of the 19th century.

    Opposing war, this war or any war, is not some automatic grant of moral validity. And pacifism is not a guarantee that lives will be saved, just ask Ghandi about the partition of India and the millions who died.

    Personally, I think our involvement in WW1 was stupid, and the isolationist sentiment that it engendered severely hampered us in the period leading up to our entry into WW2.

    The international left opposed everything we did post-WW2, and gave a pass to our enemies. They were abysmally wrong. It is that intellectual and (a)moral tradition that I am referring to, and to which the original post was also objecting.

    If that makes you uncomfortable, then maybe the company you are keeping, and the protests you do not make, are more the problem than any comment of mine.

  • Michiganny

    VR,

    I am glad we can agree on there being a difference between the anti-war movement and the average American against the war. Perhaps we shall have to agree to disagree that Chuck Hagel, the average American, and what appears to be the average soldier, are stooges of the currently non-existent International Communist Movement.

    Second, why does the poll conducted by the Military Times, as I cited, lack validity? Is it the methodology? Looking at their website, it appears they are willing to call a spade a shovel. For instance, they were reporting quite different percentages of service member support before 2006′s end. That is why they thought their latest study was news–the declining support for the war is the trend. I am willing to look at the website you mention, but I am not sure why the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Times are now suspect in a discussion of what service men think. Please tell me why.

    Third, which I guess bears repeating: “Affiliation” is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, Adolf Hitler purportedly designed a Volkswagen. VW has now capitalized on the homosexual demographic in America by showing men riding around San Francisco looking for furniture. Perhaps we can say that VW is extremely glad homosexuals buy its cars. Are we stating that Eva Braun was actually a dude? Are the Beetles in the parking lots of softball fields all over America driven by tools of National Socialism? Those false connections and affiliations are of the same caliber as the argument that everybody against the war is affiliated with or led by the fringe left.

    Lastly, here are some reasons to be against this war that do not channel the Comintern:
    A) The stated causus belli does not hold up under scrutiny. To send Americans off to die for a lie is a grave crime. If it is not a lie, where are those WMD?
    B) We should not be dying in a country that means almost zilch to our world here in North America or the British Isles. How many divisions did Saddam land on US beaches? How many Scuds blitzed London? How many NATO member states were under the Baathist jackboot? Jack shit is a nice round figure.
    C) This war is, in many, many ways really about US domestic politics. I guess we are all surprised that Clausewitz’s centuries old dictum still obtains. But that is not quite accurate. There is still a large percentage of people on this very website who deny that war is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means. To them, modern combat is a sacred rite, a tribute to manliness. Perhaps they have not heard of the Somme, or Ypres, where many westerners learned that getting machinegunned is not quite a sporting way to pass early adulthood. Or, perhaps, they are using the war to flog their personal hobby horses–everybody who disagrees with them is a traitor “There’s no wondering involved. They ARE on the other side.”

  • Pa Annoyed

    Michiganny,

    I haven’t gone into the poll’s methodology in any detail, but a quick glance shows that on the should they have gone to war question, the figures were 41.3% yes, 37.6% no, 9.5% no opinion, and 11.5% declined to answer. If 41% is bad, then surely 37% is worse? What if the headline had been “only 37% of the military think Iraq should not have been liberated”? Do you think it gives the same impression?

    But I think the real question is why so many think that – is it for the reasons you suggest, or could it be because they think we shouldn’t have gone in if it was going to be half-assed and hog-tied by political timidity, media-opposition, and ROEs that might as well have been written by the terrorists?

    On your other points:
    A) Chemical weapons have been found; about 500 so far. They also flew out 1.7 tons of enriched uranium, the UN complained about all the nuke-making machine tools they’d left Saddam with that had gone missing and blamed the US for losing them, and there was a bunch of other stuff reported like barrels full of cyclosarin that kept setting their CW detectors off (and put several people in hospital) but which for some reason they decided was pesticide. And rumours of more stuff having been flown out to Syria.

    But all of that is irrelevant, since the UN resolutions did not speak of WMD, but of WMD capability. What is the point of disposing of a stockpile if it can be regenerated in a couple of months the moment the UN’s back is turned and the sanctions are off? The point was to dismantle the military capability to manufacture and deliver it. For that reason, the UN resolutions were far wider, and the evidence that Saddam had been violating all of that was found in spades.

    But because that doesn’t fit the agenda, the media concentrate solely on the WMD stockpiles, as if their absence was some sort of relevant and telling point.

    And who is to say that the media hype about WMD might not have been true at the time, but that the stockpile had been moved or hidden between then and the war starting? Or since the search for them was not very thorough – for all we know, they may even still be there.

    B) There are other possibilities for threats to national security apart from military invasion.

    C) Clausewitz made that particular statement to set out a particular position before arguing against it. His thesis was that war was a crude brawl fought on a larger scale, the antithesis was that it was politics continued by other means, and the synthesis was that it was an unstable mixture of aggressive national passion, policy and politics, and the chaotic chances won and lost on the battlefield. He explains when and why politics is sometimes an important and necessary part of war, and how anyone who tries to claim it should be otherwise is speaking in defiance of centuries of military history.
    Incidentally, he says that a war is necessarily more political when it is unpopular at home. People who think the politicians ought to stay out of the fight should know who to blame.

    And you misjudge us on this site if you think we’re in favour out of manliness or as a rite of passage. (And yes, we’ve heard of Ypres – although we wonder if the anti-war crowd have, given that this war has been a fantastically successful victory compared to the one we won there. Do you have any idea how the death rates compare?) I personally am in favour out of sympathy for a nation that has suffered tyranny, in support of the spread of liberty, out of fear of the long term consequences of continuing to appease or ignore the major security issue the Middle East and Islamism generally now poses, and over concern that international law has become a paper tiger, now of use only to the evil for tying the hands of the good. Under the UN charter it was legally obligatory to take military action against Saddam; arguably it should have been years ago. The hard lessons learned in WWII and before are in serious danger of being lost, if they have not been lost already.

  • veryretired

    I’m not going to continue this endless argument any further except to mention that the whole issue of this poll by the Army Times, which is just another media outlet of the USA Today group, and has nothing to do with the army, was dissected several times very carefully when it first came out many months ago.

    It is suspect in both population and methodology.

    Every anti-war person I have ever challenged immediately claims to be an exception to the “anti-war movement”, and claims further that their support for that movement doesn’t mean anything. It is not a position that an intellectually honest person would take.

  • Paul Marks

    veryretired account of the “antiwar movement” (and the accounts of the people he cites) is correct. I also have been studying the left’s control of such movements (for more years that I like to remember).

    The key point is the difference between being opposed to a paticular war (or even war in general) and being part of the “movement”.

    In the 1960′s some libertarians said to themselves (and to others) “I am against American involvement in the war in Vietnam, therefore I should cooperate with other people who are opposed to it”.

    It was at the “therefore” point that they made total fools of themselves. By “cooperating” (going on demonstrations and so on) they gave aid and comfort to the movement – i.e. the people who were not “anti war” but were just in favour of the other side winning (they were and are motivated by a fanatical hatred of the “capitalist West” in general and the United States in particular). An example, of a member of the movement back in the 1960′s who is now a leader is the present (since 1992) publisher of the New York Times.

    Cooperating with such a person (on any matter at all) is unwise (to say the least).

    Of course the present alliance of the left with radical Islam (both Sunni and Shia) is odd, but the left seems to have decided that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and acts accordingly.

    Some leftists (such as Christopher Hitchins in the United States, and Nick Cohen in the United Kingdom) reject this reasoning – but they now find themselves de facto out of the movement.

    As for the hostages:

    The G.P.S. reading (confirmed by the Iranians themselves – before they changed their story) shows them to have been in the waters of Iraq.

    By the way – the posting here is a good one.

    As the thread seems to have moved away from the original posting (as threads often do) I thought it correct to add that.

  • Sunfish

    Iran’s rulers don’t want war, since they seem to be able to achieve anything they want without it. There used to be times, though, when attacking another country’s ship and taking 15 of their soldiers as prisoners would be the clearest indication to the contrary. Times change.

    Indeed. Remember the vigorous response to an embassy being raided and its entire staff being kidnapped?

    Oh, wait…[1]

    Would there be any benefit to revoking the diplomatic immunity of an entire Iranian embassy somewhere, and arresting the occupants? We couldn’t do it here, unless we grabbed up Iran’s UN mission. (If they behave like the other UN reps, there will no doubt be plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons, stuff that any New Yorker without immunity would have been jailed for.)

    [1] At least Carter did SOMETHING. Blair’s as worthless as the breasts on a boar hog and will probably sit on his hands until Cameron takes over the doing-nothing-of-value.

  • Michiganny

    Just to rebut a couple of things for the archives:

    1) Pa Annoyed, a word of methodology. If there is basically the same amount of soldiers for the war as against it, are you really bolstering your point about the anti-war people being fronts for some international movement? You only reinforce that this war does not have enough support by either the troops or the citizenry to be sustained.
    2) Nukes in Iraq: Pa, can you cite something or is this classified? George Bush has said we did not find WMD.
    3) Pa, if Iraq was a threat to America aside from the false claim about mushroom clouds, why has this not been talked about all these years? Saddam was not a threat to us, the UK, or the EU, or anyone in NATO. What other threats could you be alluding to?
    4) The manliness of combat. Did you see who I was quoting? Have you ever read M. du Toit? Go ahead and repeat your point that this discussion has no place in this elevated forum.
    5) VR tells us that everybody wants to be an exception to the anti-war movement. Is that because it gets caricatured on this and many other outlets? It is intellectually dishonest to be pro-war just because you dislike people who hold anti-war views.