RANGER AGAINST WAR: And Awaaay We Go <

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

And Awaaay We Go

The purpose of all wars, is peace

--St. Augustine

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children

--Jimmy Carter


Up front, Ahmadinejad is not my favorite guy. Let me count the ways. For starters, he possesses a woeful lack of modern history, only remembering those offenses which suit his ends. Oops, that accusation hits a bit too close...

But his Easter offering of the rat-out British sailors is sort of...sweet, in a way. I mean, he's dressed in a nice Summer suit, sans tie, of course, smiling while making the trade off. It is how politics is conducted, and we could fault him for gleaming a bit too much, perhaps.

But what brilliant rhetoric: ''for the occasion of the passing of Christ, I say the Islamic Republic government and the Iranian people — with all powers and legal right to put the soldiers on trial — forgave those 15.''

Brilliant--they recognize America as a bunch of religious fanatics, much like themselves, who will truly appreciate the sentiments on J.C.'s passing (we've all gotta go sometime), and they have co-opted and subsumed the Christ's message of forgiveness.
Simply breathtaking.

Why can we not muster such simple, effective propaganda--one simplistic, sound-bite nation to another? However that may be, the salient points of this scenario must not be forgotten.

[1] The first point in the situation is that Iran does have a legitimate right to defend their territorial waters and land. This is what we call sovereignty, and which has become such a sacred word in Iraq.

Can the British or the Iranians provide GPS coordinates to verify claims or counter-claims? Surely the coalition of the willing have GPS markers on their craft or commo gear.

[2] Britain's foreign office, speaking of a video of the sailors pointing to a map location where they were seized, said it was ''completely unacceptable for these pictures to be shown on TV." While this is true, but it is no less acceptable than televising Saddam's execution, or running pictures of Saddam's murdered sons Qusay and Uday in magazines and tabloids, ditto Zarkawi, et. al., on U.S. television, as well.

It seems that coalition forces can use degrading photos of dead people for their propaganda purposes (in violation of the Geneva Convention), but we object to the Iranians televising of their questioning of live prisoners for similar purposes.

The Iranian approach is refreshing to say the least. The British personnel appeared clean and unharmed, and their heads were not in sandbags with flex cuffs, lying prostrate on concrete. There is an element of dignity in the proceedings. The prisoners did not disappear, get rendered, nor were they held in secret prisons.

Since 1979, Iranians have known how to throw a hostage event. America should learn from them.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Kootenay said...

It seemed to me like Ahmadinejad got to come across looking moderately clever, having scored coup on the Brits and all, while the Brits appeared to enjoy an uneventful incarceration and Tony managed not to do anything incredibly stupid to muss things up. Given the provocative nature of the British presence in the Gulf and the potential for disintegration into open hostilities, you gotta call the whole thing a win-win situation. I'm tempted to assume Khomeini was the clever fellow behind the scenes who managed things so that both these idiots look like they'd actually thought things through.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 at 11:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Kootenay,

A big score for Ahmadinejad, in terms of winning the ''Arab street''. A win-win in that a hot situation was resolved peaceably.

Mr. Blair has always impressed us as being head and shoulders above Bush in just about every category, so we are glad he did not assume the bring-it-on posture which did so well by America a few years back.

It was diplomacy at work, with a healthy infusion of propaganda by Mr. Ahmadinejad. Still, he probably had the Brits dead to right for encroaching upon his waters, so he certainly could have pushed for a legal resolution, if he were less a pragmatist.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 1:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Claymore said...

The Iranian approach is refreshing to say the least.

Refreshing? Forcing a female sailor to wear the Islamic hejab(a symbol of female subordination and humiliation) while parading her on TV, violating her Geneva Convention right to practice her own religion? Who's side are you on?

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 11:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Claymore,

The hejab is just de riguer; common courtesy.

It's like wearing Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton garb over here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 12:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Royal Navy FM 90-15 "Marine Boarding Operations", Section II, "Middle East and Environs", Appendex J, Para 1 "Designated Apparel, Female"; subpara a, "Captivity"

..anon.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 2:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lurch said...

They refused to allow the female soldier to practice her own religion? I didn't hear that. How did they do that? Put some kind of spreader bar between her hands so she couldn't close them together? Were they watching her 24/7 in case she closed her eyes and moved her lips?

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 6:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

Whatever else he is, Ahmadinejad is at root a pragmatist. The fact that he verbally supports a self-determining Iraq free from foreign occupation does not mark him off as an especially virtuous man; it just shows that he understands how crucial it is for a leader to advocate policies that people can actually swallow.

Same with this latest act of diplomacy. The real background to it, of which we see little, involves kidnapped Iranian diplomats, military leaders, the recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist (they say it's Mossad), etc.

I mean, just imagine if Iran kidnapped the former head of the CIA or M16. That's basically what the U.S. or Israel did in kidnapping Ali Reza Asgari, and now his family is loudly asking for him to be returned.

Similarly, in the context of the U.S. secretly supporting Pakistani guerrillas who launch brutal cross-border raids on Iran and then talk to Voice of America radio, diplomacy really is nothing special. Diplomacy is the way things should get done, and the main reason Iran is succeeding in spreading influence and building power is because they are for the most part sticking to diplomacy instead of occupation and covert actions.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 8:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

Another thing: typical Western ethnocentrism is evident here: "Refreshing? Forcing a female sailor to wear the Islamic hejab(a symbol of female subordination and humiliation) while parading her on TV, violating her Geneva Convention right to practice her own religion? Who's side are you on?"

Actually, wearing the hijab is NOT a form of "subjection," though it can be when it is forced. Quite often, when Middle Eastern women willingly wear the hijab, they are affirming what they see as their Islamic identity. This is not to say that there aren't problems in gender equality in the Middle East, but this view is totally misinformed and ethnocentric.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 8:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,

Roger on the hijab. Which is why I suggested it is somewhat commensurate with the West's Brittany belly-baring look. In a broad way. No pun intended to the lady readers.

The hijab, as I understand it, is just a cultural choice of most Iranian women, and I think it is seen as a respectful headdress. I mean, I think the women are respected for wearing it. Much as we respect, or let's say enjoy, our glamor girls.

Can't say as one side is objectifying women any more or less than the other. Is projecting at women the message to ''put it on,'' or to ''take it off'' the more demeaning? Who can say.

Let's agree that women have not shaken the shackles of objectification successfully here, no matter how subject men may feel at times to women's charms.

Lisa

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 9:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,

We are in agreement on seeing Ahmadinejad as pragmatist.

Diplomacy is the name of the game, which we've been playing very badly, if at all. It's as though Ahmadinejad et. al. are playing the board game Risk, while GWB and friends are off playing Chutes and Ladders. Nobody wants to play on that board.

Ahmadinejad is entering the game as a player. America would like to demonize and dismiss world players we deem unsavory. Democracy means we do not have to elect such people to lead our government, but our veto right does not extend across our borders. Our job as world citizens is to negotiate, when that avenue is open to us.

We will be writing something soon on the wrong use of Black Ops in the military.

Lisa

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 9:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Lurch,

I see you're on to their clever Persian ways re. religious prohibitions.

Yes, I picture a 24/7 camera in the corner, a la our program Big Brother.

If the eyes close or the lips move, they send in a fellow who looks like an Iranian Louis Nye, brandishing a pink ostrich feather, and the punishment is three tickles under the nose for each covert attempt. Extinguishes all non-Muslim prayer attempts right tout de suite.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 9:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

Lisa, I am very glad to hear that Raw will take up this story about black ops, because it is of immense significance. Hopefully getting the truth out there will advance the debate and make peace a tiny bit more achievable.

On that note, here are two of the best analyses of the Iranian situation that I have seen:
http://best-guess.blogspot.com/
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37235

If anything, this is the message we are not getting: Bush is simultaneously putting on a show of denouncing Iran's "hostage diplomacy", and at the same time freeing an Iranian diplomat and allowing others consular access, which is of course not coincidental.

Similarly, regarding Pelosi's trip to Syria, it seems very likely that this was endorsed by Bush, all his harsh words aside, because he has finally realized that, if he is to salvage Iraq, he needs either Iranian or Syrian help, and he opted for the latter. See link:
http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ID06Ak06.html

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 9:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Claymore said...

Actually, wearing the hijab is NOT a form of "subjection," though it can be when it is forced. Quite often, when Middle Eastern women willingly wear the hijab, they are affirming what they see as their Islamic identity. This is not to say that there aren't problems in gender equality in the Middle East, but this view is totally misinformed and ethnocentric.

NO! Accually, women -ARE- forced to wear the hejab in Iran. Where did you get your information? A cracker jack box?

The hejab is just de riguer; common courtesy.

Again, where the hell did you get your info? They beat women in public for not covering their head. If that is not subordination and humiliation then...aaaahhggg...why bother arguing with a quisling?

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 10:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

"NO! Accually, women -ARE- forced to wear the hejab in Iran. Where did you get your information? A cracker jack box? "

I wasn't talking about Iran. But some Iranian women choose to wear the hijab, some don't. In countries like England, some women of Islamic origin think that they have a right to wear the hijab. In the Palestinian territories, women who are often the most involved in social justice and trying to get reform are also deeply Islamic, and opt to wear the hijab.

Take your "war on terror" bullshit and shove it. The world is not black and white. And by looking at women who DO voluntary make the choice to wear an article of clothing and say they're "subjugated," is just a sign of the infection of your mind with imperialist, ethnocentric tropes. I'm not saying that women who are forced to wear the hijab should be, because they shouldn't; but what you're doing is denying any autonomy to women who do and making them into passive figures that you can project stereotypes onto to make a cheap political point.

And there is plenty of objectification of women in the U.S., which I object to just as I do when women are forced to wear the hijab. But right now, most women are a TON more concerned with being able to stay alive, free from occupation or bombs, and you understand nothing about how people actually see the world.

Really, what you're saying is as intellectually dubious as Gingrich making his Latinos in the Ghetto comment, or Chertoff talking about "clean skin".

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 10:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Claymore,

Tone it down--we engage in courteous debate at this site. Our intent is information-sharing, not personal attack.

I stand by my statement: it is common courtesy to do as your hosts do, re. the hijab. Much as our own female military personnel abide by the clothing rules in various Arab countries where we are visitors. (And I'm not so sure the Brits dropped in as visitors.)

For instance, our buddies, the Saudis, do not take a particularly enlightened view of women. Accordingly, our female troops do not drive there, as women are not permitted that right in the enlightened state of Saudi Arabia.

Women do choose sometimes not to wear the hijab. It may be frowned upon, even from within the community of women, but it is allowed.

Much in the reverse way that we might not like dowdy, Doc Martin-Ukranian shoe/poke-bonnet type garb, but we don't force women to flaunt their attributes, either. Save when we get in our most brute states, which thank goodness happens so rarely in this fair country.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 10:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

"They beat women in public for not covering their head. If that is not subordination and humiliation then...aaaahhggg...why bother arguing with a quisling?"

What about beating people for believing in religion? What about Egyptian police who repress Egyptians trying to get democratic reform? Or Pakistani police beating lawyers? The US provides the most aid to both countries, and keeps both regimes a float. Do you give a damn about that? Or that the U.S. provides the Saudis with billions? Or are you just going to stick to vague generalities and envelope "them" into a general label?

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 10:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous MK said...

Re: Hijab in Iran. There is a lot of regional difference on how the enforcment of the hijab is carried out, but Mike is essentially right that the Iranian regime is opressive of women beyond belief. However, this does not make his argument about the break of the Geneva-convention any better: It has nothng to do with refusing her religious rights, its just something that had to be done in order to show her on TV. Now you can say that this is wrong, but it still is a minor form of wrong compared to the wrongs, say; Khalid Sheik Mohammed has been exposed to.

Since the US does not respect the Geneva conventions anymore, why should Iran, anyway?

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 8:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

"Mike is essentially right that the Iranian regime is opressive of women beyond belief. However, this does not make his argument about the break of the Geneva-convention any better: It has nothng to do with refusing her religious rights, its just something that had to be done in order to show her on TV."

I didn't say Iran was "incredibly repressive" of women. Iran forces some women to wear the hijab, which is wrong, but others do so voluntarily, which is no problem. Iran's women are MUCH more enfranchised than Saudi Arabia's. There is an all-female taxi service for women in Tehran because of incidents with male abuse; there is an all-female island for women in Iran. And these are things you would never have for instance in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or Egypt.

Iran was wrong to break the Geneva Conventions and put on shows with the captives, but this was a direct result of harsh comments from Blair. If silent diplomacy was used from the beginning, much of the drama would've been avoided.

And also, most importantly, the families of the captives were very relieved to see the captives on film, alive and well (even if coerced). That is a TON more than we can say for the families of detainees held by the U.S., many of whom are innocent and nearly all of whom are held incommunicado and undergo torture and abuse. (I'm not saying that Iran doesn't abuse detainees, so please no one distort my words.)

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 10:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

"Since the US does not respect the Geneva conventions anymore, why should Iran, anyway?"

I should also add, and I say this not at all to be disrespectful to you sir, I think this same attitude is what has informed the Bushist intention to avoid international laws and treaties. They think that because others don't maintain their agreements to the letter or do so with ulterior motives, that gives them the right to abrogate treaties.

This attitude is misinformed and contradictory. Because if you think that it's wrong for the U.S. to fail to recognize the Geneva Conventions, how does that justify others countries not doing so? A wrong doesn't justify a wrong.

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 10:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,

You misunderstand, which is a very easy thing to do in this electronic media.

I say that we ignore the G.C. not by way of condoning that, but with a rueful and sardonic exasperation. More at disgust, actually.

As you can tell, I hope, by reading all that we write, we strongly believe that America, along with all signatories, must abide by the G.C. policies. It is the only civil way to exist in the world; it is decent and proper, and it is binding law.

Lisa

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 12:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

"Since the US does not respect the Geneva conventions anymore, why should Iran, anyway?"

No, Lisa, you misunderstand me. My comments were related specifically to that comment by that poster, not to you or the owners of this blog. Sorry I wasn't clear; but suffice it to say I was not at all arguing against you.

That poster, "mk," also said I thought Iran is "oppressive beyond belief," when I was just finished arguing against the ethnocentrism that informs this view. Iran does indeed wrongly ask its women to wear the hijab and excludes them from office; but again, if you compare Iranian society, which is at least trying to cope with modernization (in peculiar ways) unlike Saudi and other Gulf states, then this poster's comment is out of place.

Lisa, let's remember that international laws are not sacrosant, though we should always expect leaders of every country to abide by them. For instance, just because the U.S. has UN approval to be in Iraq, that means nothing in terms of larger issues.

Similarly, Iran was certainly wrong to violate Geneva in putting these captive Britons on TV and having pseudo-confessions; but I emphatically point out, this violation of the Geneva PALES in comparison to the detention without trial, evidence, or even public acknowledgment of many thousands more by the U.S.

Also, I think we should remember the fact that the families of the British captives expressed satisfaction and relief that they at least got to see that their relatives were alive, being fed, watered, etc. So Geneva isn't everything, but it is a lot.

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 12:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,

Thanks; mea culpa.

Your argument makes sense. Jim will be back later to comment, I'm sure.

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 1:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MK,

We agree that the Geneva Convention protects personnel from demeaning behavior, and televising and publicizing demeaning pictures is covered by the convention. Unfortunately, we've b/c the experts in that area.

I remember as a young 2LT all soldiers were required to carry a GC card in their wallet, and we actually had GC training. Prior to POR qualification, we were also req. to go through extensive GC training, and this had to be certified on our records.

I do not know if this is still the case.

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 9:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,

adding to Lisa's comments on the GC:

One thing seldom discussed is that the GC are the minimum considerations that should be shown by the detaining power. So it's not the highest bar, it's the baseline.

In the past, the U.S. always exceeded minimal requirements, adding to our moral stature. Can't say the same today.

Friday, April 6, 2007 at 9:22:00 PM GMT-5  

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