Friday, April 13, 2007

Lacking Sympathy for the UK Sailors

It seems that some people have no sympathy for the sailors recently returned by Iran, or for Britain's response to their captivity. The second part I have no truck with - we got them back, which was the point. No concessions have been made, nothing bad has happened. Iran made their point, we learned a lesson (I hope), and we move on.

Comparing it to Abyssinia is asinine -
In 1868, the Emperor Theodore of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, feeling insulted that Queen Victoria didn't respond to his diplomatic overtures, took Britons and other Europeans hostage. Sir Robert Napier led a force of 12,000 men and 44 elephants on a 380-mile march to the fortress of Magdala, where they easily overwhelmed the defenders.
See the difference? If we could have 'easily overwhelmed the defenders' we might have done it. Also, Sir Robert commanded an army in the days when civilian casualties amongst the enemy weren't something to worry about - it's not as though the folks at home would see the crying, orphaned children on tv or such. We could afford to be bastards about it.

Perhaps most importantly, Abyssinia had no options for response to such an attack. Iran, of course, does - at least against our forces in Iraq, if not at home in the UK.

The complaints about the sailors, though - apparently they were forced to confess.
Some of the detainees explained upon their return that they had confessed to sailing into Iranian waters under the pressure of solitary confinement and threats of lengthy imprisonment.
Sorry, but allies of the US lost the right to complain about such tactics about the time terror suspects were shipped to Guantanamo bay. Solitary confinement? Threats of lengthy imprisonment?

Our allies do worse.

Complaints about being called 'Mr Bean' are laughable. If this kind of treatment wrings false confessions from our (ostensibly) highly trained and disciplined soldiers, then how can we trust anything that comes out of Gitmo interrogations? And if that is a fair way to treat a suspected enemy (as the US administration will insist), how can we complain when it's deployed against us?

It's a shame, since i do sympathise with the sailors themselves, that I can't muster any outrage at all at the behaviour of Iran. We're worse than they are, though. To complain about this kind of mistreatment would be hypocritical.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

No Negotiation with Terro - I mean, Democrats

So, it seems that President Bush will meet with Congress only to tell them to agree with him - at least that's what this article suggests.

I wonder what we're meant to think the point of a meeting is, when one side flatly refuses to discuss the possibility of agreeing with the other. I also wonder why we're meant to solely blame Congress for a failure to fund the troops if the President vetoes a bill that would fund them.

Anyway, this section of the article is almost funny:
"The president is not asking to lecture anybody, nor does he want to," Perino said. "We understand that Congress has a role to play. We understand what that role is. I would hope that they understand what the commander-in-chief's role is. And if a meeting can help alleviate some of the tension, then that's what we're for."
As far as I can tell, the White House (or at least White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino) thinks Congress' role is to send the President only those bills he asks for, and that Congress should understand it's the commander-in-chief's role to tell Congress what to do in time of war. However, I'm fairly sure that Congress is not a branch of the US military, and so the commander-in-chief has no real connection to this situation; it's the President's role that matters, and that the President is also the commander-in-chief is simply irrelevant. The commander-in-chief tells the troops what to do - and if the law says they have to leave Iraq, then it's his role to comply with the law and get them out on schedule, not to tell Congress to write him better laws.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bagels, CD Spindles & Creationism

It says something about me that when I saw this example of geek ingenuity, my second though (after the obvious 'cool!' ) was that it poses problems for the theories of some creationists.

If the way a banana (a) fits perfectly into a human hand (b) proves that a was created for b to hold, then surely this also proves that bagels were created for CD spindles to hold. Which I'm sure would come as some surprise to the original creators of both, especially the bagel's creators - given they pre-date the CD by some centuries.

Not that that particular creationist argument needs any more debunking, it's quite stupid enough already, but a bit amusing at least.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

US Raid -> Hostage Crisis

I'm glad that we're getting our sailors back. That's good news.

The bad news:

The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis - Independent Online Edition

I had wondered why the Iranians were doing it. Taking hostages seemed like a really dumb thing to do, in that it might kick off the war which would be awful for Iran (and pretty bad for everyone else). But that makes sense; obviously they can't let an attack like that go by without some kind of payback. We certainly wouldn't.

So, thanks America. Well done again. Keep up the good work, and soon we'll have another war in the Gulf...