Iran Hostages, Cont’d.
Iran might be putting its 15 British hostages on trial. Trial. What would the punishment be, I wonder?
To say the least, this is not a step in a positive direction.
A number of good points have been made by commenters on this blog. I’d like to reiterate a few key truths:
* The Brits were in a small patrol craft and were not engaged in aggressive or belligerent action, and whether they crossed the maritime boundary into Iranian waters is in dispute. I find it interesting that Iran provided coordinates showing a trespass only after Great Britain released its coordinates indicating there was no trespass. The first coordinates released by Iran show the captured Brits well within Iraqi waters.
* If the British coordinates are correct, that means Iran was the trespassor.
* I’m not sure why Faye Turney donned the hijab. Maybe submitting to hostage-takers’ demands is something these soldiers were trained to do in the event of capture. Maybe Turney was beaten, or raped, or severely threatened. Maybe she is just very young, or not very brave. Who knows? But I think that when someone is being held against their will, as these soldiers most certainly are, the presumption should be that they are not acting freely when they do/say/write things that are clearly out of character.
* I stand by what I said: unless Turney was severely beaten or raped, or had a gun pointed at her, I find it disgusting that she would submit to the hijab and write propaganda letters on behalf of her Iranian captors.
* If for the sake of argument we assume that Iran is not trying to pick a fight with the U.S. and Great Britain (for lack of a better term), there is absolutely no justification for the continued detention of these 15 soldiers. If Iran were not acting belligerently, why would it videotape the soldiers? Why would it threaten to put them on trial? Why would it rescind a promise to release one of the soldiers because that soldier’s government sought support from the UN? These are not the actions of a neutral state acting with goodwill.
* It’s one thing to detain soldiers of the state you’re fighting when they intrude upon your territory. For instance, if we were at war with Mexico and a platoon of Mexican soldiers was caught 20 miles inside the Texas border, the U.S. would be completely justified in detaining those fighters as prisoners of war. But these 15 Brits are not prisoners of war: they are hostages. Imagine now that Mexico and Canada were at war (as unlikely as that seems), and a Mexican patrol boat erroneously strayed a couple miles into U.S. territorial waters. On what grounds could the Coast Guard or Navy seize the craft and hold those Mexican sailors, much less parade them around on television and have them write clearly dictated letters parroting U.S. foreign policy? There are no such grounds. These sailors are being used as pawns in Iran’s increasingly aggressive shoving match with the West.
* Iran is not a party to the conflict in Iraq. So if Iran has no ill will or belligerent intent, why is it inserting itself into the conflict? If the British craft crossed the line into Iranian waters, the proper thing to do would be to approach the craft, inform its operators that they were trespassing, escort them across the border, then let the diplomats and military leadership impose appropriate administrative discipline for the error.
* To suggest that Iran’s actions in taking these hostages are mere chest-thumping is obscene. The lives of these soldiers are at stake: taking them hostage goes well beyond the harmless use of fighting words.