My gut reaction a few days ago to the videos the British soldiers made in Iran seems to be the same reaction some conservatives had, and this feels wierd, like I'm having an identity crisis or something. Somebody help me!
Jack Jacobs is the military analyst on MSNBC and he's very conservative. He's livid about the way these soldiers behaved from the time they were approached by the Iranian ship to the news conference they held this morning. Although I don't share his outrage that the Brits didn't open fire on the Iranians when approached (why are so many of these idiots chomping at the bit for a war with Iran?), my first reaction to those videos the soldiers made was pretty much the same as his - it was disgraceful.
I haven't been watching Fox Noise much lately (although I did see the video of Bill O'Reilly's delightful little tête-à-tête with Geraldo from last night) but I feel sure that more than one or two of the talking heads over there are saying the same things Jacobs is saying. So I'm wondering if they're blaming only the troops themselves or are they also taking issue with the military unit that trained them.
Although I believe they behaved horribly, I get the feeling that these soldiers didn't know any better. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?
I don't disagree with you at all, Chiro; but the point I'm making is quite a different one.
And just as an aside, I doubt Jacobs would disagree with you either. I said he was very conservative, but as I recall he isn't a neocon. I remember him being quite disgusted with the debate over torture tactics at Guantanemo, unless I'm confusing him with someone else (which is possible).
quote:...my first reaction to those videos the soldiers made was pretty much the same as his - it was disgraceful.
While much of the country rallied behind the crew’s return, others criticized them for offering apologies where none was required—namely for appearing in videos in which they admitted and offered regrets for entering Iranian waters.
Well, it certainly was disgraceful for the Iranian military and government authorities to force the captured soldiers to make public political statements like this. I'm not sure that it's disgraceful for people who are under the control of armed people to do what they are told.
“They rammed our boats, and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs, and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us,” Air said. “We realized that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have major strategic impacts. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians.”
I'm not sure that I find much fault with the behavior of these soldiers.
I can't quite put my finger on the precise thing, maybe because I've never been in the military, but I always thought a marine would surrender his life before he'd admit to anything his captor was charging him with. Maybe that standard has changed and maybe it's a good thing, but if it did change I never heard the debate. I'd like to.W.W.E.D.?
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that when the North Vietnamese were forcing American POWs to make public statements denouncing the US, the official military policy was to tell American soldiers to do what they are told by their captors; the important thing was to survive the ordeal and eventually return home.
I'm a little hesitant to say what people should do as a point of honor; honor is such a personal thing that I would feel uncomfortable attempting to insist on why I feel is right.
I would have respect for people who, as a matter of honor, would refuse to make these kinds of statements. But I also have respect for people who, in this kind of situation, did what they felt they had to in order to get through it. (By the way, I did not see any of these videos myself.)
That's how I feel about it. One could make the argument, perhaps, that people who join the Royal Marines agree to abide by a certain code of honor, but I'm not a Royal Marine and so it is not my place to criticize them for such a breech.
My international affairs professor this year was in the navy for a little over 20 years. prior to vietnam, the policy was to say nothing. now they teach you how to hold out as long as possible, but that you will eventually break, and that it's okay.
as part of his training, he was water-boarded (i think that's the term for it).
(the above is what he has told us, relayed by my memory)
Chiroptera, I saw that "psychological abuse" headline in the local paper today and "Guantanamo" was the first thing out of my mouth, followed by "Abu Ghraib." You can bet the rent that your standard-issue Cheneyite will never even connect the two, though - they'll think "I'm glad we Americans aren't like those nasty heathen Iranians!"
I wasn't so concerned about honor, I was concerned about the military itself. I'm pretty sure that a marine isn't supposed to make apologies and/or admissions to a captor but I'm not so sure why. Jacobs says they're only supposed to give their name, rank and serial number, but that seems overly strict. Clearly, they shouldn't give out information that might hurt their fellows, but it's not so clear why they shouldn't admit to something if it can help them in some way.
I don't know, maybe I've just watched too many WWII movies. Like I said, I'm not nearly as rabid as most of the critics of these kids, but my first gut reaction to seeing those videos was "what the hell do they think they're doing?" It just seemed like the sort of thing a marine isn't supposed to do.
If anyone reading this has been in the military and knows what rule I'm thinking these kids broke, I'd like to know. I'd also like to know what the rationale behind that rule is and whether it's been relaxed to any extent in recent decades. Further, I'd like to know if the rule is different when dealing with a captor with whom one is not at war.
For the record, I'm thrilled the kids are home and I don't condemn what they did (especially since I'm not so sure I wouldn't have done the same thing). But I don't want to completely condone what they did either, at least not until I understand more about this.
quote:I'm pretty sure that a marine isn't supposed to make apologies and/or admissions to a captor but I'm not so sure why. Jacobs says they're only supposed to give their name, rank and serial number, but that seems overly strict.
Wrong - to start with, the big clue is that you are dealing with the BRITISH military, so it's a different beast from the American military to start with, so please don't apply your rules to our armed force because like shooting allies in the back, we do things in a different way.
Our soldiers/sailors are trained to do whatever their captors want them to do - we see it as a pointless endeavour to do anything else, if you have something they want, they will get it out of you. If they want you to go on the TV and say "X,Y and Z" - then that's what you do. I know it's sounds (to the american psyche grown up on rambo films) a fantastic idea to grit your teeth and say "no way" as they attach the car battery to your genitals - no so fantastic when you come home a cripple, a basketcase or in a pine box.
As for operational intel, well of course you do not give that up BUT British squaddies know so little, there is virtually nothing they could give up under torture anyway. If you really have any secrets, they will pump you so full of drugs, that you would confess on your grandmother in a second.
quote:As for operational intel, well of course you do not give that up
And this is the main thing. No national secrets were traded (afaik). If the British navy personnel did commit a crime, it’s only on par with the crime of telling a child that their dead pet hamster has gone on holiday. The captured Britons were forced into telling a pointless lie that can be exposed as such anyway. No harm done, except for offending the odd Jingo Joe in America.