PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts


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  1. maybe they did cross the boarder? It’s possible, why just assume the iranians are lying?

    Comment by cdog — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 6:45 am

  2. Pot calling kettle black.

    This is nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – compared to what the coalition does to its prisoners.

    As to showing prisoners on TV, I seem to remember a certain Saddam, still alive, and I also remember the bodies of his sons. I suppose that’s fine because the “international community” was impressed (did it improve America’s regional standing?). And Saddam was captured in the scope of an illegal war of aggression that has led directly to the death of over half a million human beings, not seized offshore on disputed waters…

    It might be useful to take into account how Bush recommends Iranian “suspects” on Iraqi soil be treated. How about that for utterly disgraceful?

    Branded part of the axis of evil – what does the state have to lose? It is already on the receiving end of unfair sanctions, maligned and suspected for no apparent reason, apart from belonging to your Administration’s axis of evil. Iran doesn’t even get benefit of doubt. If you want a state to behave in a respectable fashion perhaps it should be treated in a respectable manner.

    Comment by james — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  3. cdo: the evidence suggest that they did not trespass and even if they did, it is unclear to me how that would justifiy this.


    I expected a response such as yours, and on some levels I agree. I don’t have time to sort out exact areas of agreement and disagreement. I will note that I personally have been critical of the treatment of prisoners by my own government.

    I will say that showing people on tv and making people read prepared statements on tv are quite different.

    However, setting aside the fact that not all is just and equitable in the world of international politics, the question remains on the table as to what the Iranians ultimately will gain from all of this.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 8:50 am

  4. I do realize that you have spoken out against the abuses by your Administration.

    It is true that having the soldiers read out statements does look very terrorist-like to us, but doubtless so do our actions in Iraq and elsewhere to them. I am also not sure that showing Saddam being examined or the corpses of his sons is better than these “confessions” on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Iran now sees a procedure, in every way similar to the Iraq fiasco, initiated in the UN: WMD-related allegations, humiliating resolutions, sanctions, and the “axis of evil” background. Iran has seen both its neighbours invaded, a strike force placed off the coast – it is literally surrounded by hostile forces and has very good reason to fear attack.

    Iran is a proud nation (and a peaceful one, that has invaded no other nation for a couple of hundred years, I believe). They are not prepared to relinquish their rights, real or perceived, despite threats of use of force; this is what their actions signify. From another perspective, they may believe that returning the soldiers through diplomacy will cause a lull in the gathering storm. Or perhaps hope for a prisoner exchange. They may be able to achieve both these things. On the other hand, this event is fairly minor – I doubt it would ever cause war between nations just in itself. On that account, Iran has nothing to lose.

    It may also be just an attempt to bring Britain to the negotiating table, but it appears that the British government is using this incident more as casus belli than actually trying to get the soldiers back.

    As to the incident’s location, my understanding is that the territorial waters are disputed: in a way, both the British and the Iranians are correct in view of the fact that no agreement has been reached between Iran and Iraq as to the exact boundary of their respective territorial seas.


    Comment by james — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  5. James,

    My ultimate point would be that this incident isn’t going to do the Iranians any favors with the international community.

    Even if I were to stipulate to your position, I would still say that this isn’t a smart move for them.

    I would dispute that the UK is treating this like a causus belli, as I would say that their response to date has been rather subdued.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, March 30, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

  6. You may well be right, but I think these actions may well earn them respect with some international players – and so will a future release of the soldiers with others. First, they defend their sovereignty, despite threats from all sides. Then, if they return the soldiers, this will constitute a bona fide action especially when compared with the sabre rattling from their opponents. David and Goliath, brave and honest Belgium facing up to Nazi Germany…

    As to the UK response, I would argue that the language used by the executive is not conciliatory but inflammatory. Britain’s subdued reaction results from weakness, not from its desire to pursue diplomacy.

    Given the particular circumstances in which this event has taken place, diplomatic talks over the return of the prisoners (and simultaneously other matters?) may be just the thing to defuse tensions overall. Iran has already been pushed into a corner and this may well be its ticket out, without losing face. I think that this may also be why they are high-profiling this event.


    Comment by james — Saturday, March 31, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  7. James,

    The irony of your position is that you are analoging this event to actions by the US and Iraqis, which you criticize, but are then saying that those types of actions by the Iranians will garner them respect. That doesn’t track.

    Had they wanted to show strength and detain them but then release them, they might have followed the path you are suggesting. Instead, the situation continues to drag out, has featured coerced apologies, and threats of a trial while evoking memories of 1979. How any of this ultimately redounds to Iran’s benefit is unclear, especially if the goal is to be treated in the international community like a serious actor.

    The UK response, which hasn’t been demure and has included confrontational rhetoric, has hardly been an especially forceful one overall. To say, as you did, that they are treating it as a causus belli is to suggest that they are going to use the event as a reason to attack Iran. I see no evidence of that to date.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Saturday, March 31, 2007 @ 9:32 am

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