Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FACTIONAL POLITICS IN IRAN....I don't have any idea whether this reporting is accurate, but what the heck. Here's what the London Times says about the Iranian hostage crisis:

According to an Iranian military source, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards has called for them to be freed.

Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi is said to have told the country's Supreme National Security Council on Friday that the situation was "getting out of control" and urged its members to consider the immediate release of the prisoners to defuse tension in the Gulf.

However, Safavi's intervention was reportedly denounced by another senior general at a meeting of high-ranking commanders yesterday.

Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and "liberal tendencies". Javani is said to have demanded that the prisoners be put on trial.

....Iranian military sources said the Supreme National Security Council had concluded on Friday evening that Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, should order the release of the British naval personnel on Safavi's advice.

However, according to one account, which could not be confirmed, Javani described Safavi's recommendation as tantamount to treason.

This more or less fits with Juan Cole's suggestion that the crisis is basically a product of internal Iranian politics: "Tehran's hard-liners...are trying to use the incident to rally the public around the flag and revive their flagging fortunes on the geopolitical stage with appeals to Iranian patriotism." However, it goes a bit further in suggesting that even the Revolutionary Guards are badly split on what to do next.

As usual, I'm just passing this stuff along. Iranian factional machinations are far too opaque for me to have an independent opinion on this stuff, but the basic idea that internecine battles of some kind are behind the whole affair seems increasingly plausible.

Kevin Drum 3:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (61)

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Comments

Hardliners trying to rally the base by accusing the moderates of treason? This sounds familiar, no?

Posted by: Paul on April 3, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Tehran's hard-liners...are trying to use the incident to rally the public around the flag and revive their flagging fortunes on the geopolitical stage with appeals to Iranian patriotism."

Which is odd, really, because America's hard-liners are trying to use the incident to rally the public around their flag and revive their flagging fortunes in Iraq and on the geopolitical stage with appleas to American patriotism.

Just goes to show how much we really have in common, doesn't it....

Posted by: Stefan on April 3, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, I'm just passing this stuff along. Iranian factional machinations are far too opaque for me to have an independent opinion on this stuff, but the basic idea that internecine battles of some kind are behind the whole affair seems increasingly plausible. —Kevin Drum

I've long wondered what happens if real moderates ever took control of Iran. I can imagine a internecine battle not unlike what's going on in Iraq. The Revolutionary Guard, not unlike Hitler's SA, have turf they'd want to, at the very least, maintain. However, if the government and society ever want to liberalize, I'm sure they'd be a big obstacle to this.

Posted by: JeffII on April 3, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Makes sense that Iranian politics are very, perhaps most, important in this mess. It's why the British are so desperate to keep Georgie boy and his loose cannon mouth out of it: so he doesn't escalate the situation to the detriment of the captured troops.

Did you notice the deafening silence from Downing Street after his unneeded and inflammatory "hostages" remark this last week end? The diplomatic equivalent of "Shut UP, George."

Posted by: clio on April 3, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan >"...Just goes to show how much we really have in common, doesn't it...."

Monkey see, monkey do, monkey see, monkey do do flies

and so it goes...

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H. L. Mencken

Posted by: daCascadian on April 3, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK


I find the lead article in the Independent to be a bit more interesting: link.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 3, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Another take:
Bush's botched raid...led to the hostage crisis
By Patrick Cockburn
A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.
Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.
In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment....

Posted by: Mike on April 3, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Every country has their wingnuts.

And as is usual with wingnuts, both the US and Iranian wingnuts share the belief that war between the US/UK and Iran is in their own domestic interests. Which is why war is never more inevitable than when the power of wingnuts is threatened.

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

It sounds like the grownups have returned from holiday, after Iranian new year.

That's what they're reporting on BBC, anyway, though not in those exact words.

Posted by: KathyF on April 3, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's why the British are so desperate to keep Georgie boy and his loose cannon mouth out of it

Too late. He was the first to call them "hostages", and it's been picked up by the msm, including Kevin evidently.

Posted by: ExBrit on April 3, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

[blowhoring]
I wrote about this last week, in re: is the Guard a parallel military, like Germany had in the run up to WWII?

And who controls which part of the military?

[/blogwhoring]

Posted by: SteveAudio on April 3, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hey look, everybody! Angelina Jolie wants to adopt another African baby! And I've got the exclusive ...

Posted by: Rita Cosby, Underemployed MSNBC Correspondent on April 3, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

When can I begin bombing? Huh? Huh?

Posted by: W on April 3, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

[blowhoring]

I thought it was the whores that did the blo-ing?

Posted by: ckelly on April 3, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

ExBrit: "He was the first to call them 'hostages', and it's been picked up by the msm, including Kevin evidently."

One man's prisoner is another's hostage. And it works. Conflating the words "Iran" and "hostages" is almost sure-fired guaranteed to leave Americans with a very bad taste in their mouths.

Personally, I'd like to know more about the story offered up in today's Independent in London, which was thoughtfully linked by Mike at 4:14pm. I urge everyone here to read it.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 3, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Ex-Brit that it's unfortunate that Kevin picked up on the "hostage crisis" meme.

Posted by: thersites on April 3, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, it's not about the underprivileged status of criminals, you f*cking moron. Take
Rush's dick out of your mouth and pay attention. The best way to help the captives is to understand what's happening over there, and respond appropriately, based on having a fucking clue. You and your buddy Bush would rather just amp up the rhetoric to score easy points than get a headache from having to think.

Posted by: thersites on April 3, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and "liberal tendencies".

Following on Stefan's comment, I immediately noticed that this statement could come from anyone in the Right Wing Looneysphere, with absolutely no translation required.

Posted by: craigie on April 3, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Iranian Orangutans...

Please let the British Chimps go...

Mind you I am just an observer here on Monkey Island... but... don't you Primates agree with me that there is enough hostility on the isle already?

Posted by: One Solitary Human on April 3, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think thersites has a valid point, though I wouldn't have put it so crudely. This crisis, complete with internacine wrangles using the prisoners as pawns, really reminds me of the Carter years. That crisis ended with everyone being released, and no bombs, so maybe there's hope.

Posted by: Barry on April 3, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

OT

There is a great post on The Carpetbagger Report from a few days ago about the mainstream media's (specifically Time magazine's) ignoring the prosecutor purge scandal.

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/10367.html


What explains the failure of the mainstream media to cover the purge scandal for so long, and so many other scandals? Do you think somebody just set up newspaper editors to cheat on their wives, and threatened to tell if the editors wouldn’t play ball when they come back some day and ask for something?

It wouldn’t be that hard to do, when you think about it. People wouldn’t talk about it.

Posted by: Swan on April 3, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Who gives a **** whether or not internecine disputes among iranian muslim fanatics led to the imprisonment of the British sailors?"

LOL.... Just the intelligent folks who believe that understanding the play-by-play in a crisis of this sort is key to resolving it successfully.

Posted by: PaulB on April 3, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Internecine battles may make sense intellectually, but politically -- and, I wouldn't be surprised, in the recesses of Incurious George's bubbled-in little head -- it's just shades of black.

The eye-raynians are eee-vil. An' we don't negotitate with eee-vil.

God.

Posted by: bleh on April 3, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Barry, I made my crudely and should apologize to everyone who had to read it. Shouldn't ought to let them get to me...

Posted by: thersites on April 3, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

made my point crudely, I should say...

Posted by: thersites on April 3, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, mhr beat me to it.

Truth IS stranger than fiction.

Posted by: bleh on April 3, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, you political drama queen -- it's time to grow up.

What you advocate is precisely the kind of retarded adolescent dick-swinging nonsense that got our country into this Gawdawful fuckin' mess in Iraq in the first place.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 3, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno Thersites, I found your comment poignant and funny.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 3, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

TODAY'S QUIZOTIC

Which of the following is from local wingnut mhr, and which is from the political head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard:

A. Unless of course you are about to give us the old liberal line that civilized people must take into account the underprivileged status of criminals and not be judgmental.

B. accused him of weakness and "liberal tendencies"

I refer to my earlier post about the shared philosophy of Iranian and US wingnuts.

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

poignant?

Poignant because you've heard the rumor that Oxycontin makes it shrink?

Posted by: thersites on April 3, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how the right now calls for adhering to the Geneva Convention - what a hoot! The prisoners in Gitmo and Abu Graib and the black sites and the rest of the monstrosities that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzo created give us no moral standing in any of this.

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 3, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

"The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away." -- Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen), Apocalypse Now! (1979)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 3, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, one thing I am glad about in reading this blog is that you don't assert yourself as an expert in every issue that arises, defering in such cases to people like Juan Cole, who are.

Posted by: anandine on April 3, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Returning to the original topic:

This more or less fits with Juan Cole's suggestion that the crisis is basically a product of internal Iranian politics: "Tehran's hard-liners...are trying to use the incident to rally the public around the flag and revive their flagging fortunes on the geopolitical stage with appeals to Iranian patriotism."

Sorry, I beg to differ. This is a form of asymmetric warfare in which the belligerents are massively unmatched in warmaking capacity, rather like the North Vietnamese government and the US military (say, around August '64). The Iranian military perceives that the Coalition would prefer not to actually invade, but would like to deprive Iran a space for political action until such time as the Iranian leadership can be dealt with on Coalition terms. So it has to resist the effort to encroach on it, to use petty provocations and exact consequences from its adversary. The object is to embarrass Western leaders with their electorates (and with potentially friendly 3rd-country bystanders).

This explains why Hezbollah retaliated against Israeli provocations (which the IDF had hidden from the Western media: literally scores of unlawful kidnappings of Lebanese nations). The IDF responded by launching a full scale war to recover "face."

Posted by: James R MacLean on April 3, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Who gives a **** whether or not internecine disputes among iranian muslim fanatics led to the imprisonment of the British sailors? Unless of course you are about to give us the old liberal line that civilized people must take into account the underprivileged status of criminals and not be judgmental.
Posted by: mhr on April 3, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

mhr shows why the American public is giving up on Republicans. Smack first think later ain't how you win a War. Fight Smart not dumb like a Republican.

Posted by: Nemesis on April 3, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-Brit wrote:

Too late. He was the first to call them "hostages", and it's been picked up by the msm, including Kevin evidently.

They're not "hostages"? What are they then? Are they free to go any time they like? They must just be enjoying a nice vacation in Iran I guess.

This just confirms the old reliable addage that liberals are more interested in labels, spin, and misinformation than actually getting to the heart of the issue.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 3, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

However, Safavi's intervention was reportedly denounced by another senior general at a meeting of high-ranking commanders yesterday. Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and "liberal tendencies". Javani is said to have demanded that the prisoners be put on trial.

Conservative political demogoguery and tactics are the same everywhere, I see.

It is interesting and oh so ironic to see the similarities between American neocons and Iranian hardliners.

It's a match made in . . . well, somewhere other than heaven.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

They're not "hostages"? What are they then? Are they free to go any time they like? They must just be enjoying a nice vacation in [Cuba] I guess.

GWB prefers to call them "detainees".

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

"This explains why Hezbollah retaliated against Israeli provocations (which the IDF had hidden from the Western media: literally scores of unlawful kidnappings of Lebanese nations). The IDF responded by launching a full scale war to recover "face."

Posted by: James R MacLean"

What did it take (35 comments?) before the old anti-Israel trolls came blinking out from under their bridges? The left can be relied upon to have them.

If any of you read Guests of the Ayatollah, you know that that hostage crisis (what else is this for crissakes ?), was prolonged by squabbling among the revolutionary guard types, one of which was Ahmadinejad. All the ex-hostages are convinced he was there. This is a power play, not just against the weak Brits (Who have decided to stop teaching about the Holocaust so as to pacify the Muslim students who might otherwise strap on a bomb belt.) but against each other. They are barbarians and that is what barbarians do. Hopefully, the Iranian people who want to live in the 21st century will be free of these medieval nuts in a few years.

Posted by: Mike K on April 3, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79: This just confirms the old reliable addage that liberals are more interested in labels, spin, and misinformation than actually getting to the heart of the issue.

And sportsflan79 just confirms the old addage that conservatives are more interested in posturing than actually doing anything substantive.

They're not "hostages"?

What are the prisoners in Gitmo doing?

Having a nice vacation in "Cuba"?

Hostages, prisoners of war, enemy combatants, one can just make up any name that suits one's interests in the Age of Princess Bush!

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

And it took only 40 comments for the likudnik troll to appear.

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: They are barbarians and that is what barbarians do.

Perhaps.

Barbarians also engage in extraordinary rendition, torture, denial of human rights, and the invasion of countries that have not attacked.

Which just goes to show that birds of a feather try to pluck each other's eyes out!

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

is key to resolving it successfully.

mhr's mind: Resolving it involves blowing shit up

Posted by: ckelly on April 3, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: The left can be relied upon to have them.

Yeah, the right-wingers of the world have never had any anti-semites in their midst!

What a hoot!

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

They are barbarians and that is what barbarians do. Hopefully, the Iranian people who want to live in the 21st century will be free of these medieval nuts in a few years.

And hopefully those of us in America who want to be free of our medieval nuts and barbarians will be free of them in a few years.

To that end, I'd like to extend an invitation to you and your ilk to emigrate to Uzbekistan, a lovely right-leaning country with castles and exploitation of women and corruption and all kinds of backward thinking you should find to your liking.There you can lance at windmills to your heart's content along with the oppressive Uzbek government, which also uses the bogeyman of terrorism to torture whomever it pleases and squelch dissent.

Posted by: trex on April 3, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Conflating the words "Iran" and "hostages" is almost sure-fired guaranteed to leave Americans with a very bad taste in their mouths.

Works for me and I'm not even American. A little surgical strike or two would clean it out OK, though.

Posted by: Bob M on April 3, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This is not internal Iranian politics, Kevin. These are cold-hearted murderes, cut from the same clothe as the perps of 911. But then, I'm not surprised you want to "understand" them, Kevin.

Maybe we could fly you over there and you could hug each and every one of them and make them feel "validated." You know, cause diplomacy sovles everything ::rolleseyes

I often print these threads out and share them with my friends. When they read all these looney leftist posts, we laugh and laugh and laugh.

Posted by: egbert (means business) on April 3, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Brits should bomb the bejeezus our of them, like we did to China when they forced down and seized our surveillance plane.

Oh, wait....

Posted by: Trollhattan on April 3, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

The word hostage implies that there are terms for their release that were demanded by the Iranians to enrich themselves or gain some advantage.

The British sailors and marines were taken prisoners for crossing over into Iranian territory, just like the Border Patrol does with undocumented immigrants here in the US. The difference is the British were armed military on a mission designed by their commanders, making their release much more complicated, which is why the Iranians are a bit fractious about what to do. This factionalism should indicate Iran has a robust pluralism that is missing in our nation, where the propaganda theme is that Iran is a radical, monolithic threat to Western values and freedom.


Posted by: Brojo on April 3, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Barbarians also engage in extraordinary rendition, torture, denial of human rights, and the invasion of countries that have not attacked."

Yes, I agree and think we should attack all those people who do so. I can't think of any that are not Muslim right now. Maybe you can.

"Yeah, the right-wingers of the world have never had any anti-semites in their midst!

What a hoot!

Posted by: anonymous"

You're right about right wing anti-semites but that was 60 years ago. Now almost all are on the left, at least those who raise their voices in public.

Interesting.

Posted by: Mike K on April 3, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: They are barbarians...

They? What would you say about Bush-Cheney funneling money to Sunni jihadist groups?

Seymour Hersh commented on the real reason Negroponte resigned as Director of National Intelligence to take the No. 2 slot at State. He wrote:

I was subsequently told by the two government consultants and the former senior intelligence officials that the echoes of Iran-Contra were a factor in Negroponte's decision to resign...
In a CNN interview on Sunday, Feb, 25, 2007, Hersh explained further. From Crooks and Liars (See John Amato 's post of the same day at 10:18):
[The Bush] administration has made a policy change, a decision that they are going to put all of the pressure they can on the Shiites, that is the Shiite regime in Iran, the Shiite — and they are also doing everything they can to stop Hezbollah — which is Shiite, the Hezbollah organization from getting any control or any more of a political foothold in Lebanon.
...I saw Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, and he described it this way, as "fitna (ph)," the Arab word for "civil war." As far as he is concerned, we are interested in recreating what is happening in Iraq in Lebanon, that is Sunni versus Shia.
And in looking into that story, and I saw him in December, I found this.  That we have been pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia is putting up some of this money, for covert operations in many areas of the Middle East where we think that the — we want to stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence
They call it the " Shiite Crescent." And a lot of this money, and I can't tell you with absolute certainty how — exactly when and how, but this money has gotten into the hands — among other places, in Lebanon, into the hands of three — at least three jihadist groups. 
There are three Sunni jihadist groups whose main claim to fame inside Lebanon right now is that they are very tough.  These are people connected to al Qaeda who want to take on Hezbollah.  So this government, at the minimum, we may not directly be funneling money to them, but we certainly know that these groups exist. 
My government, which arrests al Qaeda every place it can find them and send — some of them are [in] Guantanamo and other places, is sitting back while the Lebanese government we support, the government of Prime Minister Siniora, is providing arms and sustenance to three jihadist groups whose sole function, seems to me and to the people that talk to me in our government, to be there in case there is a real shoot-'em-up with Hezbollah and we really get into some sort of serious major conflict between the Sunni government and Hezbollah, which is largely Shia, who are basically — or as you know, there is a coalition headed by Hezbollah that is challenging the government right now, demonstrations, sit-ins. 
There has been some violence.  So America, my country, without telling Congress, using funds not appropriated, I don't know where, by my sources believe much of the money obviously came from Iraq where there is all kinds of piles of loose money, pools of cash that could be used for covert operations
All of this should be investigated by Congress, by the way, and I trust it will be.  In my talking to membership — members there, they are very upset that they know nothing about this.  And they have great many suspicions. 
We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11, and we should be arresting these people rather than looking the other way
BLITZER:  Your bottom line is that Negroponte was aware of this, obviously, and he wanted to distance himself from it?  That is why he decided to give up that position and take the number two job at the State Department?
HERSH:  He — that is one of the reasons, I was told.  Negroponte also was not in tune with Cheney.  There was a lot of complaints about him because he was seen as much of a stickler, too ethical for some of the operations the Pentagon wants to run.
As you know, this Pentagon has been running covert operations.  I think Mr. Gates' job and one of the things he wants to do is get some control over it.  But under Rumsfeld we were running operations all over the world with who knows what money and who knows what authority, because most of those operations were not briefed to the intelligence committees. 
And the Pentagon has basically been open about it in saying, hey, this is military stuff that has nothing to do with CIA operations.  We have nothing to do with them.  We are running military operations.  And the president has the authority to do this. 
But Negroponte was unhappy about — in general about some of the things.  He also, I don't think, liked — he may not have been terrific at his job, that is another factor.  But certainly John Negroponte went through this issue, Iran-Contra in the '80s, when we had the first big debate over the use of unlawfully obtained money to buy arms.
We know, the whole arms-for-hostages business was to generate cash to fight the war — the Contra war against the Sandinistas, that mess that we had.  Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras there, very sensitive to the issue that took place 20 years ago.  He did not want a repeat of it. 
And I frankly — it is something that I think to be asking [Negroponte] in congressional session or whatever.  But I have that — you know, I understand this is very serious stuff.  And my magazine [The New Yorker] understands this is very serious stuff.... ...And we have really taken a lot of time with this story and couched it as carefully as we could and with all of the caveats, this is serious business. 
The link to Hersh's New Yorker article, "The Redirection: Is the Administration's New Policy Benefiting Our Enemies in the War on Terrorism?"

daCascadian, you around?

Is this above info what you meant when you replied to my pondering about "money laundering" within the WH to which you wrote, You're getting warmer. . .?

I hope Waxman can get to the bottom of the missing $12 billion the CPA misplaced from Iraq funding. Interesting what he could find with a proper investigation. I certainly don't trust the DOJ to conduct a complete and thorough search for the truth with "loyal Bushies" running the department.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 3, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

It was actually Drudge who kept pushing the "hostages" meme until the MSM picked up the term. Until then the MSM referred to the captured British soldiers as "the captured British soldiers." Still, one man's hostage is another man's "detainee" I suppose. So would it be correct to refer to the prisoners in Gitmo as "hostages" at this point?

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on April 4, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

It's all where you stand, isn't it.

If you are USian, it's impossible to think of people held by Iran without thinking of hostages, if you're older than 40.

Given the arrest of Iranians in Kurdistan within the last year that were there at the consent of the Iraqi Kurds, it might be reasonable for Iranians to believe they are hostages; but it would include 100% of their conscious nation.

What we have for a presnut is an idiot.

Posted by: notthere on April 4, 2007 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

The British sailors and marines were taken prisoners for crossing over into Iranian territory, just like the Border Patrol does with undocumented immigrants here in the US.

Except that their position was at the very least in disputed waters, certainly not established Iranian territory. Remember how the Iranians gave a second set of GPS coordinates after the British government told them the first set wasn't in Iranian waters? There is also an existing set of rules for dealing with this kind of dispute, and this ain't it.

The difference is the British were armed military on a mission designed by their commanders,

And authorized by the UN; it's not like they were flying solo here.

Disclaimer: I know, Bush sucks, right-wingers suck, we shouldn't have invaded Iraq, bombing Iran is a terrible idea, "hostages" isn't really an appropriate term (yet), etc. Doesn't make what Iran is doing right or excusable.

Posted by: Nat on April 4, 2007 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K: You're right about right wing anti-semites but that was 60 years ago. Now almost all are on the left, at least those who raise their voices in public.

Sixty years ago? Mostly on the left? You want to name names?

What about the neo-Confederates of the Republican Party, one that was a presidential contender? What do you think about Repub racist cohorts?

Max Blumenthal, The Nation, Aug. 29, 2006, Beyond Macaca: The Photograph That Haunts George Allen:

...Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.
In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the CCC, at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer....
...Descended from the White Citizens' Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South, the CCC is designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In its "Statement of Principles," the CCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
The CCC has hosted several conservative Republican legislators at its conferences, including former Representative Bob Barr of Georgia and Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. But mostly it has been a source of embarrassment to Republicans hoping to move their party beyond its race-baiting image. Former Reagan speechwriter and conservative pundit Peggy Noonan pithily declared that anyone involved with the CCC "does not deserve to be in a leadership position in America."...
In posing for a picture that he knew the CCC would use to promote itself and him, and would be circulated to true believers, Allen joined a tradition of conservative Southern politicians seeking to burnish their neo-Confederate credentials. In 2003, former Republican National Committee chairman and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour took a photograph with revelers at the CCC's "Blackhawk Rally," a fundraising event for white "private academies." In the subsequent hailstorm of media criticism, after reporters discovered that the CCC had posted photos of Barbour on its website, Barbour pointedly refused to demand that the group remove them. Though Barbour came from an old and influential Mississippi family in Yazoo, he had spent a long time as a lobbyist in Washington. "In Mississippi, one of the biggest problems he had was they thought he [Barbour] was a scalawag. So it didn't hurt him in Mississippi," Baum said of the photos. "Nobody said, 'Oh my golly!'" Despite the CCC photos becoming a campaign issue, or partly perhaps because of it, Barbour handily won re-election in 2003.
But George Allen's relationship with the CCC is different; it went beyond poses and portraits. In 1995, he appointed a CCC sympathizer, Virginia lawyer R. Jackson Garnett, to head the Virginia Council on Day Care and serve on the Governor's Advisory Council on Self-Determination and Federalism....
Allen's Advisory Council on Self-Determination and Federalism bore an eerie resemblance to the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, a state agency that engaged in lobbying and propaganda in support of "massive resistance" to integration. One typical pamphlet published by the Commission declared, "We do not propose to defend racial discrimination. We do defend, with all the power at our command, the citizen's right to discriminate."
A year after the trashing of the Virginia Council on Day Care, Allen expressed his fervent belief in states' rights in a letter to the largest neo-Confederate group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans. On the occasion of the group's centennial, in 1996, Allen wrote, "Your efforts are especially worthy of recognition as across our country, Americans are charting a new direction--away from the failed approach of centralized power in Washington, and back to the founders' design of a true federal system of shared powers and dual sovereignty." ...
Allen was not alone in sending congratulations to the SCV; twelve other governors [and I wonder who they are] and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott--an SCV member--joined him. However, according to Ed Sebesta, a Dallas, Texas-based researcher of the neo-Confederate movement, Allen's letter was unique. "The other governors wrote mostly sentimental blather to the SCV," Sebesta said. "But Allen's letter really expressed the neo-Confederate view of the Southern tradition and showed him to be a neo-Confederate in his thinking."
There's more like Richard T. Hines, "an influential Republican lobbyist and neo-Confederate financier who, a year earlier, had protested the erection of a memorial to black tennis star Arthur Ashe in downtown Richmond, Virginia..." and Senator John McCain's "neo-Confederate moment" in the 2000 SC primary ...
Facing George W. Bush in South Carolina, McCain hired Richard Quinn as his state field manager. Quinn was an editor of the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, and a frequent critic of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, who he once dubbed a "terrorist." Before the primary, Quinn organized a rally of 6,000 people in support of flying the Confederate flag over the statehouse. Quinn dressed up McCain volunteers in Confederate Army uniforms as they passed fliers to the demonstrators assuring them that McCain supported the Confederate flag.
As soon as news spread that McCain had called for removal of the Dixie flag from the statehouse, the SCV's Richard T. Hines funded the distribution of 250,000 fliers accusing McCain of "changing his tune" and describing Bush as "the [only] major candidate who refused to call the Confederate flag a racist symbol." Bush surged ahead of McCain and took South Carolina, dooming McCain's presidential hopes.
"People didn't buy it," Baum told me about McCain's gambit. "When he thought the flag issue would help him, he was for it. When he thought it wouldn't help him, going North, he denounced it. And you still have all these gullible liberals who think McCain's a saint."...
Click the link and you can see the photo of George Allen with his racist buddies at the CCC. And it wasn't 60 years ago. Some of the names mentioned above are current Repub politicians, lobbyists, supporters, or former congressmen within the past decade.

One might think that David Duke is ancient history. But what about Tom Tancredo? Isn't he running in the Republican 2008 presidential primary or is he gonna bow out? Again, from Max Blumenthal at The Nation wrote on Mar. 23, 2006, Republicanizing the Race Card:

Tancredo, of course, has claimed that his anti-immigration stances have "nothing to do with ethnicity or race." Yet his proximity to his white nationalist admirers is closer than he publicly concedes. Perched in the rear of the Dulles Hyatt conference hall sipping a Diet Coke, Gordon Lee Baum, the leader of America's largest white nationalist organization, the Council of Conservative Citizens, told me, "Tancredo's pretty good. We've had him down a few times to meet with us." Though Baum didn't elaborate, another CCC member, California-based anti-immigrant doyenne Barbara Coe, spoke alongside Tancredo at a February 8 rally at the US Capitol in support of the Minutemen.
What do you think about DoD investigator Scott Barfield's findings? From The Nation, Recruiting Hatred, Jul. 7, 2006, by Ari Berman:
According to a shocking new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, neo-Nazis and skinheads are infiltrating the military, perhaps in the thousands, as a result of lax recruiting enforcement.
"Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," says Defense Department investigator Scott Barfield.
Barfield presented the military with evidence of 320 extremists in the past year, but only two have been discharged....
"We've got Aryan Nation graffiti in Baghdad."
You up on current events in your party and the administration, Mike K? Or are you ignorant of your party's ties and pandering to white supremacists? Or...?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 4, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

'Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and "liberal tendencies".'

This sort of language sounds so much like that used by Stalin's prosecutors in the show trials of the '30's. Wow, they've definitely got some greybeards that were raised on '60's and '70's Marxist/Islamic hybrids. Interesting how the language of *our* enemy at the time (the former Soviet Union) sticks so well with our current "enemy".

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 4, 2007 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

This situation seems so over my head. Britain is saying it is the decider of the marking of territorial waters, Iran is saying it is the decider of where the sailors were found.
And too many right wing motor mouths are saber rattling.
LA Times reporter Borzou Daragahi, who has a blog site as well, seems most credible, in Tehran.
I heard him speak on Cspan by telephone, and read some of his stuff.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 4, 2007 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

This waterway has always been disputed. At one point during the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq claimed the entire waterway for itself. Later on, when Iran had the upper hand, Iran claimed the entire waterway. When Saddam Hussein wanted to invade Kuwait, Iraq & Iran agreed to split the waterway in half. With Saddam dead and his regime gone, it is not clear to me where the boundary is. Does anybody know if the new Iraqi gov't has recognized Saddam's old treaties?

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on April 4, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K: I can't think of any that are not Muslim right now. Maybe you can.

Sure can: Dickless Cheney, Princess George Bush, and Donald Dumbsfeld.

Posted by: anonymous on April 4, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: You're right about right wing anti-semites but that was 60 years ago.

You are implicitly lying by suggesting that there are no right-wing anti-semites today, but who on the "left", now or in the past, ever murdered six million Jews?

Posted by: anonymous on April 4, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, Mike K, please link to any story that shows a Muslim country or leader on the sending end of any extraordinary rendition.

Don't worry, we won't hold our collective breaths, so we'll still be here long after you've failed in your quest.

Posted by: anonymous on April 4, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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