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Mark Steyn

Topical Take

The Humiliation

There's no point pretending the illegal seizure and release of America's sailors is anything other a huge propaganda victory for Iran - and a humiliation for the United States. Insofar as there was a strategic calculation behind Obama's outreach to the mullahs, it was that the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions would incentivize the Islamic Republic to start behaving like any other house-trained member of the community of nations. In other words, they'd stop pulling this stuff.

As it was, Joe Biden and John Kerry could not resist bragging that the swift resolution of this situation was testament to the new hunky-dory Washington-Teheran relationship. Vice-President Biden:

They released them, like ordinary nations would do. That's the way nations should deal with one another. That's why it's important to have channels open.

Secretary Kerry:

I'm appreciative for the quick and appropriate response of the Iranian authorities... and I think we can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago.

We don't have to imagine how a similar situation might have played out, you botoxicated buffoon, because it's played out before, with mind-numbing regularity. This time round they seized ten US sailors. Nine years ago they seized 15 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines. One of the Brits was of the female persuasion. Here's what I wrote in 2007:

The token gal was dressed up as an Islamic woman...

Does that sound familiar? Why, golly, here we are in 2016, and this time round the token US gal was also made to wear a hijab.

The Royal Navy guys were put on camera and interviewed about what great hosts the Iranians are - even though forcing your captives to participate in a photo-op is, as I wrote, "a breach of the increasingly one-way Geneva Conventions".

Does that also sound familiar? Well, whaddaya know? This week the Iranians broke the same Geneva Conventions with the same impunity. Why? Well, again from that 2007 column:

Power is only as great as the perception of power. The Iranians understand that they can't beat America or Britain in tank battles or air strikes so they choose other battlefields on which to hit them. That's why the behaviour of the captives gives great cause for concern: There's no point training guys to be tough fighting men of the Royal Marines when you're in a bloody little scrap in Sierra Leone (as they were a couple of years ago) if you allow them to crumple on TV in front of the entire world.

That goes for the US Navy, too. All day long Iranian TV has been broadcasting video of one of their captives, in apparent breach of the US military's code of conduct, apologizing, very generously:

"It was a mistake that was our fault and we apologize for our mistake," said the U.S sailor, who was identified by Iran's Press TV as the commander... "The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here. We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance."

I wonder what other videos Iran took. With the British hostages, I recall they mocked one of the lads because he reminded them of Mister Bean. I'm not sure that's specifically mentioned in the Geneva Conventions, but I reiterate my point: The ayatollahs can't - yet - beat our tanks and planes, so they pick battlefields where they can win, very easily. We should know that by now, and train our guys to act accordingly.

Let's go back even further - to an earlier hijacking of naval personnel. Here's me in The Daily Telegraph, back in 2004:

Six Royal Marines and two Royal Navy sailors were intercepted in Iraqi waters, forcibly escorted to Iranian waters, arrested, paraded on TV blindfold, obliged to confess wrongs and recite apologies, and eventually released.

But don't worry about any of that Geneva Conventions stuff:

If pictures had been unearthed of some over-zealous Guantanamo guards doing to our plucky young West Midlands jihadi what the Iranian government did on TV to those Royal Marines, two thirds of Fleet Street (including many of my Spectator and Telegraph colleagues) would be frothing non-stop.

Instead, they seem to have accepted the British spin that there's been no breach of the Geneva Convention because the Marines and sailors weren't official prisoners of war, just freelance kidnap victims you can have what sport you wish with.

Which is marginally less insane than the Biden-Kerry line that illegally seizing foreign sailors, forcing them to their knees and to submit to the dress codes of someone else's religion, using them for propaganda videos and making them issue public apologies testifies to how the new Iranian-American friendship is just peachy and going gangbusters.

In fact, the Iranians are doing exactly what they've always done. They got their nuclear deal, and it's business as usual. The only difference is that, a decade ago, they did it to America's allies but they never quite dared to do it to America itself.

Now they do.

from Topical Take, January 14, 2016

 

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