A Provocation Backfires

Were the Brits ginning up a pretext for war in the Gulf?
by Justin Raimondo

The release of the 15 British sailors and marines by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – whose sense of showmanship was really on display here – was widely described as “bizarre” in the Western media, and yet analysts – including those hostile to Iran – are claiming it was a victory for the Iranians, and a humiliation for Britain. So – which is it?

This entire incident has been extremely odd, alright, but it isn’t the Iranians who made it so. The behavior of the captured Brits is what struck me as truly bizarre. After all, two of them went on Iranian television, and, standing in front of a map, pointed out precisely where they were picked up by their captors – in what are clearly Iranian waters. Their televised apologies, it’s true, were a violation of the Geneva conventions, but we in the West are hardly in the best position to raise that issue. As one well-known wag put it, “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.”A funny piece, but of course the Labor party’s minister of health, the utterly humorless Patricia Hewitt, took the opportunity to lecture the British people on the public health consequences of the Iranians’ actions:

“It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people.”