Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Support the Troops Unless They Get Captured

The British sailors and marines are safe at home now. But they would be tried for cowardice if some neo-cons got their way (see this National Review editorial here). The article linked to is written by a British ex-pat turned naturalized American who is more ideologically eclectic than most conservative columnists. But the core values are there: hypocrisy and intolerance. See his wikipedia bio here.

This admitted illegal immigrant to the US is a fierce opponent of other illegal immigrants and amnesty (although as a currently naturalized citizen, he has benefited from what he opposes). He's also a self-described racist and homophobe who is married to a Chinese woman (now there's a foundation for healthy relationship). This guy is easily dismissed as a crank. However, I awoke this morning to CNN doing an interview with the British sailors and marines actually justifying why they surrendered to the superior fire power of the Iranian forces that captured them. He must be reflecting the sentiments of enough people out there to warrant a response. To the extent that this view is common, it is an interesting development.

These British troops were supposed to have fought to the death rather than allow their little rubber dingies to be captured by the forces of a country with which they are not currently at war. And if they were going to surrender the least they could do is force the Iranians to torture them before speaking on TV. With support like that who needs opposition!?
It lays bare the reality behind the "support the troops" rhetoric. Liberals and other opponents of the war aren't being ordered to actually support the troops themselves but rather the policy that sent them over there. The troops are there to fight and die - pointlessly if need be - and our part is support the flawed policies and deranged leaders that sent them there.

It fits with the fetishism around Sparta that is growing among American Hawks. "Come Back With Your Shield Or On It." What's next, American Bushido? Suicide charges at dawn? Are we start emulating the Japanese war time regime now?


The Law Talking Guy said...

What's clear is that these conservatives (and they are ALL conservatives) bitching about the behavior of British sailors is that they don't have kids in the military. All 15 got out alive. I am especially proud of the one woman among the group who was apparently treated much more harshly than the rest, but bore it with dignity. None of the 15 cried on camera. Nobody begged.

Conservatives in the UK (and here too) want to find a way to use this event to score political points. I don't think it will work. Military action would have been the easy way for Blair to score points in the press, but getting all 15 home safely, quickly, was the result the British public really wanted.

Conservatives also hoped this would propel us to war with Iran, to renewed efforts in Iraq. It won't... yet. But Iran pays a heavy price.

First, the Brits need to use the abuse the Iranians gave their troops to full advantage, and press claims for violation of the Geneva convention in the world court. This may not matter to Joe Sixpack, but it matters a great deal to Jacques and Hans Sixpack: our European allies will stand closer to us on Iran if we pursue this tack.

More importantly, for the first time since the "Axis of Evil" speech, I'd wager a majority of Americans and English contemplated a military assault on Iran. Military strikes on Iran for any reason - say, attacks on US soldiers in Iraq, or the atomic thing - is that much more likely now. Iran crossed a line, and no doubt Russ Feingold and Nancy Pelosi would have called for military strikes if those 15 had been ours, and if Iran would not return them. We are not going to suffer the Hostage Crisis again.

This didn't work out the way Iran hoped. They are used to thinking of their troops as cannon fodder, like the 13-year olds they sent to die by the tens of thousands in the Iran-Iraq war. They figured we would be embarrassed, that this would hasten our leaving Iraq. They are learning we don't behave like that. We may not be able to fix Iraq, but we can destroy another country if we want to. The message: watch out, Iran. The West is fully capable of rallying for more military action if it is sufficiently provoked.

USwest said...

I agree with LTG. I am very impressed with the wisdom, sang froid, and foresight demonstrated by these 15 British soliders and I could only hope ours would have done as well. I am also deeply impressed with the on-going diplomacy shown by these people since their release. They saved us from what could have been a very ugly war, or in their words, "the broader consequences" and "great ramifications".

I would add that today's announcement of Iran being "nuclear" is yet another face saving device.

From my perspective as an American, I find this "face saving" behavior childish beyond belief and particularly irritating in that it artificially inflates situations only to deflate them again in order to appear "strong". You can never be sure where the exaggeration stops and the truth begins, which only makes the situation even more dangerous for everyone and gives the appearence (at least in the West) of fickle, crazy people in the East. And then, these people wonder why they aren't taken seriously. It is an inverted value system and a dangerous political strategy.

Of course, I say this knowing our that this is a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The treatment these hostages are getting from some of the right-wing groups is revolting. Under coercion and psychological pressure, the 15 captive soldiers apologized for violating Iran's territorial waters. It's not like they gave away military secrets.

A quote from the father of one of the hostages in the videos (Rifleman Nathan Summers) suggests another good reason why the hostages would have agreed to the videos.

"Nathan's a man of very few words. He was obviously given a script. Nathan will have gone along with what they asked, just to keep the situation calm... It is wrong to parade the captives on television. But I cannot tell you what a relief it is to see my boy alive and well."

USwest said...

In fact, they say that they did not admit any guilt. They were careful to use words like, "allegedly we were in Iranian waters", "according to the Iranian officials we were . . . " however, if I am understanding this properly, these qualifiers were edited out of the final tape.