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.

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