Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Is Iran's Position Defendable?

Last week Iranian forces captured 15 British sailors operating in Iraqi waters. The British sailors had just finished inspecting an Indian vessel. Iran immediately claimed the British had entered Iranian wateres. Britain released GPS co-ordinates showing their sailors had been in Iraqi waters. The Indian Captain has been contacted and also confirmed the British were in Iraqi waters. The Iraqi government has said the same thing. Even the Iranian government provided GPS co-ordinates inside of Iraqi waters. Once Britain pointed this out, the Iranian government changed the co-ordinates to within its own waters 24 hours after the first co-ordinates had been released.

Tony Blair has called on the world community to demand the Iranian government return the UK sailors and their equipment. Mr. Blair points out the sailors were enforcing a UN embargo. He has rightly attacked and criticized the Iranian government as it continues to violate Geneva conventions. It is against the Geneva conventions to film and broadcast captured soldiers for publicity. The “confessions” and letters Iran has released are an outrage.

Today I am traveling on vacation with my family and I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal. Being the news junkie I am, I needed my fix, and it is hard to get updates from CNN and Fox News while flying from airport to airport. However, I was outraged when I opened the paper to find an article entitled, “History Frames Iran Standoff” with the subtitle Resentment Runs Deep Over Past British Hand in Oil Trade, Governing. While the article doesn’t come out and blame Britain for the capture of her sailors, it does hint that maybe the British Government, and by proxy, the United States share at least some responsibility in the abduction of these sailors.

This is a very slippery slope. This is the same mentality that gives rise to the belief that the United States deserved 9/11. The theory says that somehow the attacks on the Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually the fault of Americans because of our history in the Middle East. The attacks of 9/11 were the fault of 19 Muslims and their supporters. The capturing of these British sailors, and what happens to them, is the responsibility of the Iranian government.

This is the same government that continues to pursue a nuclear program when the world and the UN have told it not to. I have written before that Iran shows no real desire to be part of the world community. While an invasion in Iran might not be the answer, immediate sanctions and isolation are the short term answers for both of these problems. Iran must be taught that there is a way nations act when they wish to be part of the world community, and this isn’t it.


Brandon said...

Iran's position is indefensible. If we really want to hurt Iran, tell them that unless they release the British sailors and marines by Friday, then the Royal Navy and US Navy are going to put a blockade in place to stop any oil tankers from entering or leaving Iran's waters. The money lost will hurt Iran, but what will bring them to their knees is the fact that they must import 40% of their refined oil.

familyman said...

You say, "He has rightly attacked and criticized the Iranian government as it continues to violate Geneva conventions. It is against the Geneva Conventions to film and broadcast captured soldiers for publicity."

But wasn't it our own government who recently decided that we can disregard the Geneva Conventions if they don't suit our needs?

Andy D said...

The United States has decided (rightly so) that the Geneva conventions do not apply to terrorist. The reason is simple. Terrorist don’t wear a uniform. The Geneva conventions refer to uniformed combatants.

Why is it that if the United States is perceived to have “violated the Geneva conventions” or “tortured” someone, every news outlet pounces on it. But when a nation like Iran does the same thing, the media is willing to give that government a pass? The government that protects the right of free speech for the media is attacked while a government that attacks any dissent is given a pass?

familyman said...

We the U.S. are under a microscope because we are the country everyone looks to as an example.

This is exactly what critics of the Bush policy warned would happen. As soon as we decide we are going to selectively disregard basic human rights, then we lose the moral authority to chastise others for doing it.

Andy D said...

We haven’t neglected anyone of “basic human rights”. The prisoners at Gitmo are treated much better than the probably deserve. They are provided with meals, a roof over their heads, a Koran, exercise time, and in some cases even a library and TV time. What basic human right do they deserve that they don’t get?

And it really doesn’t matter how we treat any of the prisoners in the war on terror. Al-Queda was beheading people and journalist before we made the decision of what to do with the prisoners at Gitmo.

familyman said...

I wonder if Canadian citizen Maher Arar would agree that we haven't neglected anyone's basic human rights. He was the guy who was stopped by U.S. officials as he was coming back home to Canada from a family vacation. He was taken to Syria and tortured for a year before they let him go. The Canadian government conducted an inquiry and concluded that he was totally innocent.

I wonder if Satar Jabar the guy in the now infamous picture from Abu Ghraib with the hood over his head and electical wires attached to his hands and his private parts thinks his basic human rights were respected.

I refuse to buy into the thinking that says, "they are terrorists who do terrible things, so therefore it's OK for us to do terrible things too."

In order for us to truly have the moral high ground, we can't compromise our values.

Andy D said...


You have inspired me to write a new post. Torture is a very complicated topic that deserves its own area to explore. Look for a new post coming soon.

familyman said...

I can't wait. Although it seems pretty black and white to me. Torture is wrong.

Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. That's all I'm looking for. That's not a lot to ask is it?

But really, I look forward to your post. I bet it'll get the magic 20 comments.

Hope you're having a good vacation. Man, if I was on vacation, I'd say goodbye blog until I got back. You're so dedicated.