Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BRITISH HOSTAGE CRISIS OVER....Iran is going to release the 15 British sailors and marines it seized two weeks ago. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the "pardon" today, accompanied by some of his usual peculiar rhetoric as well as videotape of some of the prisoners confessing to having trespassed in Iranian waters. The deal, we are told, is an Easter "gift" and has nothing to do with the recent release of an Iranian diplomat by Iraq.

Maybe so. But there's pretty clearly more of a backstory to this. I wonder if we'll ever get to hear it?

Kevin Drum 12:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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I'd like to personally thank the Orangs for letting the Chimps go. And I'd like to thanks the Chimps for giving the Orangs time to work out a solution.

This is one small bipedal step for the Planet of the Apes, and one giant leap for Monkeykind...

Posted by: One Solitary Human on April 4, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Lyndon Johnson gave us the backstory:

"We were in the Gulf of Tonkin, just minding our own business..."

Posted by: again on April 4, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Khameini made his point and probably didn't want to push his luck.

Victory: Islamofascism!

Posted by: DJ Jazzy Jazeera on April 4, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It is not over until they are actually released.

Posted by: Colin on April 4, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Suicide watch on the boys at the Corner has just begun. No war for them. Poor kids. Nobody pays any attention to them.

Posted by: gregor on April 4, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Just shows what diplomacy can accomplish - Kudos to Norman for being a secret emissary for the Brits in driving the negotiations.

Of course, that threat of jamming Iranian television with the showing of that video of Norman and Keith Richards snorting a rather strange substance, may have helped.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 4, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

We're also now entering into negotions concerning the five Iranians we captured in the consulate / liason office in Irbil.

To be fair the diplomat released yesterday was captured by men wearing uniforms similar to Iraq security forces and the US claims no role in his capture or release. A US spokesman claims we would have provided assistance if it had been requested.

Posted by: B on April 4, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

negotiations -- if you're wondering

Posted by: B on April 4, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Suicide watch on the boys at the Corner has just begun.

K-Lo is about to have a stroke.

Posted by: DJ Jazzy Jazeera on April 4, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Too late for Ahmadinaged. One too many screw-ups. This country will not tolerate the taking of hostages from this country or it's allies. To do otherwise is to validate their rogueish behavior.

"The Democrats will discover they misjudged George W. Bush." -- VP Dick Cheney

Posted by: egbert (means business) on April 4, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

No way! It's not possible for this kind of crisis to be diffused without bombing somebody!

Awk! Does not compute!

Posted by: craigie on April 4, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

This will be seen as a sign of Iranian weakness by the national security complex.

Posted by: Brojo on April 4, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"We would have provided assistance if it had been requested"

What in laundering the rented uniforms from our Military Wardrobe Department?

Posted by: stupid git on April 4, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Where is all the press coverage of the Iranians being held by the US soldiers in Iraq? I guess I have to go to Iran to see that "hostage" crisis reporting!!! I suspect Iran was in the wrong here...but I just do not understand how myopic (if that is the right word) we Americans can be sometime. If we do something it has to be right....if Iran does it they have to be wrong. That is why we are sitting in Iraq right now!! I am glad this is coming to an end but at some point we are going to have to talk to the Iranians....i hope sooner rather than later!!!

Posted by: jon on April 4, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "BRITISH HOSTAGE CRISIS OVER"

Once again Kevin is trumpeting the Bush administration's propaganda, in all caps and bold type no less.

This was not a "hostage crisis". There were no "hostages". Bush is lying when he uses the focus-group-tested word "hostage", in order to push the emotional buttons of weak-minded, ignorant dupes, and Kevin is assisting Bush in doing this.

Iran arrested the British sailors and charged them with a crime, namely illegally entering Iranian territorial waters. Every nation on Earth that claims territorial rights to its coastal waters asserts the right to do the same thing. I don't know whether the British sailors actually entered Iranian territorial waters or not, and neither does Kevin or any of the commenters on this site. Indeed it is my understanding that the exact boundary between Iranian and Iraqi territorial waters is in dispute so it is entirely possible that Iran and Britain might have legitimate differences of opinion about whose territory the sailors were in when Iran arrested them.

But none of this has anything to do with anybody taking anybody else "hostage". That's 100 percent pure Bush bullshit, which Kevin has repeatedly endorsed by using the phrase "hostage crisis" to describe the situation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 4, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Awk! Does not compute!

Hey AWK was great for computing.

Posted by: gregor on April 4, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Hostage" crisis? *Sigh.* Armed combatants with the ability to defend themselves while operating in a war zone who are then taken captive are not "hostages." Must you always buy into right-wing talking points?

Posted by: Stefan on April 4, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Stop. Calling. Them. Hostages!!!!!

Captives? Yes. Hostages? No.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 4, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

What? No waterboarding? No naked pyramids? No electrodes to the testicles? No barking, lunging German Shepherds? No pissing on their holy books?

And they call that a country?

Posted by: Jim J on April 4, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The MSM and even moderate bloggers will call this a hostage crisis and that the Iranians blinked, as I heard some boot licking general (ret.) say this AM. They will pursue this propaganda theme because to tell the truth will not be in the interests of the national security (war) complex. The truth is these soldiers were ordered into Iranian territory and that the Iranians are reasonable people who do not torture and hold pawns indefinitely to satisfy a need to humiliate and torment the other, like Americans do.

Posted by: Brojo on April 4, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that these were not 'hostages' because if they are hostages are we holding Iranian hostages, the five we seized in Kurdish Iraq? There was an interesting statement by a BBC commentator that I have not seen any writing on. He stated that this may have been in response to US backing of what US has termed a 'rebel group' out of Pakistan to attack positions in side of Iraq. This 'rebel' group would be classified as terrorists if there were coming into any other country and supposedly, according to the BBC commentator, has ties to al Quida. This is a slippery slope if we are engaged in such activity and will further erode our credibility in the region and strengthen Iran's.

Posted by: thepoet on April 4, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "This country will not tolerate the taking of hostages from this country or it's allies."

Please take this essay home over the weekend and try to make it more comprehensible. Work on punctuation, too. And do try to take a bath before Monday!

Posted by: Kenji on April 4, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Now can we work with Iran to stabilize Iraq?

Posted by: absent observer on April 4, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

here's how the Guardian headline read:

5.30pm update

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Iran to release British sailors tomorrow

Hostages?

Posted by: TJM on April 4, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The CNN article Kevin links to doesn't even use the word "hostages", instead referring to them as "detainees". It's notable when Kevin starts carrying more water for the Bushies than CNN.

Posted by: Disputo on April 4, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

DO YOU WANT TO HEAR IT, REGRESSIVE-DEMOCRATS?

W. and Blair probably threatened to turn Tehran into a parking lot; hostages released. Er, uh, calling Jimmy Carter, isn't it about time you slit your wrists for the shame you brought the USA!

W ROCKS!

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on April 4, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Oh God. The worst of the stupid sockpuppets,The Objective Historian is back.

Posted by: R.L. on April 4, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it about time "The Objective Historian" enlisted? Based on his juvenile rhetoric, he would seem to be of high-school age or reading comprehension. Then again, our military does have standards...

Posted by: DJ on April 4, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

DJ.....Hit us at the same time didn't it.

Posted by: R.L. on April 4, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

These sailors were always going to be released. The local Iranian commander who captured them probably exceeded his authority for dealing with a disputed waterway and the Iranians were just waiting for the political mess to die down so they release the prisoners without admitting that some commander (whose career is over) screwed up and violated orders.

Posted by: jalrin on April 4, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

TOH - YOU. ARE. A. FUCKING. MORON.

Why do you come here and splooge the threads with your nonsense? (By the way - a C in Western Civ I on the third try at a community college does not a historian make)

Let the grown-ups talk and go check out one of the "What they didn't tell you about..." books at the public library. Learn something, fuckhead, before you come back here.

It sure didn't take the Mighty Wurlitzer long to start maligning the captives.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 4, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

W. and Blair probably threatened to turn Tehran into a parking lot; hostages released. Er, uh, calling Jimmy Carter, isn't it about time you slit your wrists for the shame you brought the USA!

The shame was brought upon the US by Reagan who traded arms for hostages.

Posted by: Disputo on April 4, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean I can't commence bombing?

Posted by: W on April 4, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

By the way - a C in Western Civ I on the third try at a community college does not a historian make)

Hell, TOH took the class pass-fail, failed, then I passed him anyway so I wouldn't have him next semester.

Posted by: TOH's History Prof on April 4, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

DJ.....Hit us at the same time didn't it.

Seems that way, R.L. If this were Eschaton, I think I might owe you a Coke.

Posted by: DJ on April 4, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

History Prof: I suspected it was something along those lines...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 4, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Want the backstory?

Both the BBC and the Belfast Telegraph are reporting that the Syrians acted as intermediaries. So now Blair joins Pelosi and the Israelis in telling Dubya to sit on it and spin.

Regards, Cernig @ Newshog

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

I think I like Blue Girl's statement, "Captives? Yes. Hostages? No."
Iran is a very complex society, and they have mastered the fine art of intrigue for a very long time. But the one thing they do know is they have a really good feel for the world around them.
I suspect that they got what they wanted out of this whole affair. A little mugging for Iran, a little drubbing for the West, and all without it coming to blows.
Iranian's have been traditional masters of brinkmanship, and in this case they knew how long they could play this for, and they played it masterfully.
That they got a "diplomat" out of the whole deal was just sauce for the goose.
But, and here'in lies where Blue Girl's observation comes from is that the Iranian's did not want the perception of the Brit's being hostages...oh no, that ratchet's up the whole thing to a new level which would give the West a reason to open fire.
Hence the whole play up of "you were in our waters" rhetoric. The Iranians wanted to look like they were the victims, not the Brits. Whether the brits where in their water or not is irrelevant, what mattered was that the Iranian's were going to play that hand for just the right length of time, and then can it quick.
In short, Bush, Blair, and the whole "coalition" thing got schooled in PR by the Iranians. All we can do is admire their masterful play, and make sure we don't get "schooled" again.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 4, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jim J wrote:

What? No waterboarding? No naked pyramids? No electrodes to the testicles? No barking, lunging German Shepherds? No pissing on their holy books?

No, they use REAL torture over there. Like sawing people's heads off with a rusty machete.

They don't have any weenee liberals over there trying to subvert them from the inside strictly for political gain.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 4, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

No, they use REAL torture over there. Like sawing people's heads off with a rusty machete.

I hear that's the best way to get actionable intel.

Better trolls, please.

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

Iran is a very complex society, and they have mastered the fine art of intrigue for a very long time.

They invented Chess, fer cryin' out loud.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 4, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Iranians are a restrained people who do not shoot down airliners or invade other nations because of hysterical fear. They may detain people who are spies or who illegally come into their sovereign territory, but they release them unharmed.

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

I wouldn't go so far as to paint them as the epitome of pure and noble and morally superior on every count. But having some life experience with Persian culture, the Persians are not accurately described as "evil" either.

As soon as we get off our damned high-horse and realize that other countries have interests to see to - and that not everyone thinks that US interests override all others - we will have taken a huge step toward getting along with the neighbors (and in a global economy/world, everyone is a neighbor).

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 4, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let the grown-ups talk and go check out one of the "What they didn't tell you about..." books at the public library. Learn something, fuckhead, before you come back here.

I think I'm in love...

Posted by: DJ Jazzy Jazeera on April 4, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

As long as he only shows up once a thread or so, let TOH stay...some of you sound like you could use a good laugh.

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

Restraint is not synonomous with nobility and morality, but it is superior to America's attitude of shoot first and ask questions later.

Posted by: Brojo on April 4, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"his usual peculiar rhetoric"
I wonder how strange Western rhetoric sounds in Iranian ears.

Posted by: Jörgen in Germany on April 4, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

When "their" side captures some of "our's" then they are hostages. When "our" side captures some of "them" they are not even captives or prisoners of war, they are not even criminals and get sent to court. No, they are "illegal combatants". Of course, we don't display them on TV - that's distasteful. We just quietly send them to Guantanamo.
All a matter of perspective. Us - or them.

Posted by: Jörgen in Germany on April 4, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how strange Western rhetoric sounds in Iranian ears.

Not only that, but I wonder how many 'mericans realize that when they hear or read his words, that it is in translation, usually not a very good one, and oftentimes purposefully mistranslated.

Posted by: Disputo on April 4, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe those rug pilots would undertstand this kind of talk, "Bend over and grab yer ankles, dune coon. I'm drivin' ya home! "

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

Like sawing people's heads off with a rusty machete.

But what if there was a "ticking time bomb" and this was the only way to get the information!!! Let's say the tarrist is just sitting there not cooperating - then we start a-sawin'... He'll think twice about not squealing the location of the ticking nuke to Jack Bauer by God!!!

Posted by: ckelly on April 4, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what I find more humorous about sportie's ignorance -- that he conflates execution and torture (notwithstanding that faked executions are a popular form of torture), or that he thinks a machete is a type of saw.

Posted by: Disputo on April 4, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

All a matter of perspective. Us - or them.

J嗷gen, perspective? You're talking weirdo stuff here, pal... Sigh, isn't it though. And it too often just comes down to this.

sportsfan79 (a proud member of the tribe of dumbfuck nativists: US chapter - currently the largest and most vocal chapter though China and India up and coming) I hope you know your sports better than your politics. There even appeared to be fighting within the Revolutionary Guards on this one.

Posted by: snicker-snack on April 4, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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