Iran has shown the British what kind of people we really are: without honour and without shame, writes David Cox in The Guardian.
April 10, 2007 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Our shameless culture, by David Cox (The Guardian): Iran has shown the British what kind of people we really are: without honour and without shame. The Sun, the now officially approved disseminator of British military information, notes that navigator Arthur Batchelor was "tormented" by being called "Mr Bean". Understandably, he had to cry himself to sleep. Perhaps President Ahmadinejad feared that the goody bags might just prove a step too far. But no, they were gratefully received, in a response that aptly captures the infantilisation of a people that once ruled much of the world. Navigator Batchelor has however since complained that the quality of his own bag's contents was not what he had hoped.
posted by hoder (94 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"The baby-faced sailor, who was mocked by his captives for being the youngest of the group…"

That's some quality reportage.
posted by adamrice at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2007


Cognitive dissonance alive and well:

1. The brits were treated SO BADLY they made false confessions

But

2. Torture still works!
posted by unSane at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Members of Her Majesty's armed forces captured by a hostile power readily collaborate in an enemy propaganda exercise.

We're at war with Iran now? Why didn't anyone tell me?
posted by teleskiving at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2007


"I don't know what they're trying to prove by giving us books on morality and their religion," he told the Daily Mirror.

"My morals are fine, thank you very much."


No, that sounds like the ol' Northern European disdain of other cultures that made, and keeps, Britain so great.
posted by DU at 8:05 AM on April 10, 2007


What this proves: we're a post imperial nation without much capability for waging war on our own, and really we should give up pissing about in the gulf and leave it to people who actually want to get into wars (ie the Americans).
posted by Artw at 8:07 AM on April 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


IHNSITMMB
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:12 AM on April 10, 2007


This has been a pretty strange kind of beginning of the 21st century, hasn't it? I guess I'm not surprised, but still... Goodie bags?
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:19 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, England had better start a war with Iran to prove it still has something in its goodie bag.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:21 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's like they're Oscar presenters, or something.
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on April 10, 2007


I gotta admit, the British soldiers mostly seemed to fold like a house of cards. I mean... this wasn't exactly the Hanoi Hilton. Then I feel bad because I've never been captured by Iran. But neither did I volunteer to be a soldier.

I'm pretty sure Kipling wouldn't have approved.
posted by Justinian at 8:22 AM on April 10, 2007


What "fold"? It's not like they gave away classified information. They kept themselves alive and unharmed to zero material detriment to their country. Isn't that protocol?
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on April 10, 2007


walk a mile in my nikes...you go there. you get captured. you tell us then what a brave dude you are.
posted by Postroad at 8:28 AM on April 10, 2007


I was a little shocked at their demeanor on the Iranian TV clips; they seemed to be very cheerful as they detailed their alleged incursion into Iranian waters. I don't know if they had orders to play ball, or they were afraid of abusive treatment, or a bunch of pussies, or what... and I still don't know. I would hope, though, that it would at least take a few good ass-kickings to make me swallow my pride and do what they did on the Iranian TV. Again, I don't know all the facts, and I don't know what I would do in that situation; maybe they were under duress, maybe there were credible threats to the safety of the seamen, maybe they shot some poor sap just to scare 'em, or maybe they promised increasingly poor quality goodie bags.
posted by Mister_A at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hell, no, it isn't protocol, DU. And there was quite a bit of material detriment to their country. The propaganda value they provided to Iran was priceless in the region. Iran was clearly the big winner. Name, rank, and serial number is the American protocol. The Brits are similar though I doubt they'd phrase it that way. Freakin' apologizing for being kidnapped by hostile soldiers is definitely not protocol.

I saw Col. Jack Jacobs on MSNBC when the Brits started singing. If you don't know, he's a Medal of Honor winner. He was visibly angry and appalled at the Brits and said that virtually everyone he knew in the military was similarly appalled.
posted by Justinian at 8:36 AM on April 10, 2007


Mister_A writes "I would hope, though, that it would at least take a few good ass-kickings to make me swallow my pride and do what they did on the Iranian TV."

Ass-kickings be damned. I'd say whatever the hell they wanted me to for a packet of cigarettes. It's not like anybody's going to believe the word of a hostage held in captivity anyway.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:41 AM on April 10, 2007


Wow. The Sun just exudes an aura of journalistic integrity. No wonder the British Military chose it.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:46 AM on April 10, 2007


I hope Fey Turney still got to keep her £100,000 payment for her story. After all, she didn't get a suit! Fucking sexist Iranians.

Oh well, who cares if they acted like a bunch of pussies. Most of these conservatives would have been crying like a baby.
posted by delmoi at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2007


They were captured by Iran. I assume they all thought they were royally fucked. People giving them shit online need to think about what they'd do in their situation. The country isn't known for its great human rights.
posted by chunking express at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2007


It's pretty bad all round. Soldiers captured by Iran, cry cry cry apologise, get released in huge propaganda victory for Iran. They come back, sell their stories (which largely consist of more cry cry cry "oh those mean Iranians, they made us sleep on uncomfortable sheets" type stuff), and generally make everyone involved look stupid from start to finish.

But hey, at least we're less likely to go to war against Iran now, right?
posted by reklaw at 9:03 AM on April 10, 2007


He was visibly angry and appalled...

I could swear I remember learning about basically the same controversy from the 1950s, America and Korea. And the lesson I remember learning was that from then on, regular soldiers could talk as much as they want to keep from being tortured/killed. I guess what I remember is that that should have been the lesson.
posted by DU at 9:12 AM on April 10, 2007


The Sun is not an "officially approved disseminator" of military infrmation, that's a sneery turn of phrase by a whinging member of the chattering classes. Now English working class people aren't stiff-upper-lip enough for trendy London media types. Fuck 'em.
And fuck those of other nations who don't understand the context of commentary like this and use it for pushing whatever agenda they have.
posted by Abiezer at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2007


Maybe it's just my degenerate western "solipsistic, relativist materialism" and "sentimental empathy" but I think aiming for "honor" at the sacrifice of human life is pretty damned stupid. So what if it was an embarrassing experience for the UK. At least everyone got home alive and no one got bombed for a change. What the hell kind of person would sacrifice a kid's father or a mom's son on the altar of better PR?
posted by crackingdes at 9:18 AM on April 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


Of course you're supposed to talk, tell them whatever you want. What the fuck kind of high level military secrets does some enlisted dude bobbing around the Persian gulf on a rubber raft know anyway? You think they gave them the war plans and sent 'em off on a zodiac and said "Look, if they capture you just clam up, it's the purloined letter, it's perfect."

The people who know what the fuck is going on don't go out in the field. The Iranians made everyone look like total fucking babies, it was perfect. Of course, speaking as a man when I get really embarrassed I start getting that urge to punch someone really hard....

The whole thing is high comedy from start to finish.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:20 AM on April 10, 2007


Good post.
posted by fatllama at 9:22 AM on April 10, 2007


Mr. Cox is very frown-y. I think he is a serious deep thinker. I would like to seem him on the next celebrity big brother. He could be the Jermaine.

The people who know what the fuck is going on don't go out in the field.


They were in water silly!
posted by srboisvert at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2007


I am quite silly.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:27 AM on April 10, 2007


I think that we should have more of this.
Every captured soldier/sailor/enemy combatant should complain about the quality of the enemy gifts. This will start a vicious circle of gift escalation, and instead of using cluster bombs, we'll be carpet bombing iPods on unsuspecting populaces.
Then, of course, someone will fuck up and carpet bomb with the outlawed-on-humanitarian-ground Zune, and there'll be a security council resolution and an invasion.
Ah well, it would be good while it lasted.
posted by Jakey at 9:30 AM on April 10, 2007 [11 favorites]


...it would be good while it lasted.

You mean "it would have had been good while it lasted."

[/nitpick]
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on April 10, 2007


Well, that too, but it would still be good while it was happening ;-p
posted by Jakey at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2007


Erm, weren't they subject to a mock execution shortly after they were captured? That's a little, you know, scary, right?

Maybe it's just my degenerate western "solipsistic, relativist materialism" and "sentimental empathy" but I think aiming for "honor" at the sacrifice of human life is pretty damned stupid. So what if it was an embarrassing experience for the UK. At least everyone got home alive and no one got bombed for a change. What the hell kind of person would sacrifice a kid's father or a mom's son on the altar of better PR?

Hell yes. Here in Canada it's been commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge all weekend, and I'm well sick of "ultimate sacrifice" and "nobility". Young men getting blown to hell for the sake of three kilometers of land. Such a profound waste.
posted by jokeefe at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2007


Brilliant picture of one of the sailors about to cry like a baby.
posted by unSane at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's hard to shake the feeling this writer admires Iran because "they sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives without question in an eight-year patriotic war."
posted by grobstein at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Only a couple of decades ago, [the Iranians] sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives without question in an eight-year patriotic war.

Ah, yes, the Iran-Iraq War, and what a fine war 'twas that. Ah, to be an Iranian partisan choking on poison gas. To ascend martyrlike to the glory of a virgin orgy in Heaven so that peace would finally reign forever o'er the Middle East. Why, if England had only the slightest sliver of that patriotic spirit yet remaining, they'd have gassed half of Belfast and there'd be no more Irish problem.

If war's the health of the state, then the jingoistic version of "honour" whose loss is being lamented, foisted upon society's lower classes in order to convince them to risk their lives for a bogus war in a country that isn't theirs and never will be to protect the economic interests and prop up the bullshit rhetoric of their social betters - this is surely its life's blood.
posted by gompa at 9:42 AM on April 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


Huh, never would have guessed Rowan Atkinson was big in Iran.
posted by staggernation at 9:42 AM on April 10, 2007


This will start a vicious circle of gift escalation

worked for these guys
posted by desjardins at 9:43 AM on April 10, 2007


unSane, he looks like he need a sammich
posted by Jakey at 9:45 AM on April 10, 2007


I'm surprised that nobody here is appalled that the "goodie bags" contained religious books. How would you be reacting if the roles were reversed, and Western powers were giving Christian texts to released Islamic captives?
Why is this any different?
posted by rocket88 at 9:49 AM on April 10, 2007


What also gets on my tits is how a-historical it all is. Plenty of people wagged off or ran away in the Great War and Second World War. That's why they shot deserters. Plenty of people thieved and went on strike during the Blitz and the Home Front.
But by and large, when push comes to shove and when not put in stupid situations or bad wars, we'll be just as gutsy as the next set of poor saps in uniform; big surprise.
posted by Abiezer at 9:51 AM on April 10, 2007


OK, I'm a card-carrying anti-war green, and I still think these guys should have shut the fuck up and let their superior officers back home sort it out.

There's a reason we have a Foreign and Commonwealth Office. And loads of senior officers back in Blighty, flying desks. They fix stuff like this, and are actually quite good at it. Nothing to worry about, especially when you're not actually at war, and know that the Iranians will be full of bluff and bluster.

Unless they were actually tortured (as opposed to just hearing guns getting cocked, which should be a familiar enough noise, fer fuck's sake), in which case, fair enough, sooner or later I can see why you'd pretend to be happy and play backgammon. Right under the nose of a cameraman.
posted by imperium at 9:51 AM on April 10, 2007


Um, hearing guns cocked when you are up against the wall with a bag over your head and your hands tied by captors with hostile intent is rather different from hearing them on your own ship, I'd imagine.

And, shouldn't we give them credit for *not* starting a war by fighting back, as the Iranians may well have wanted them to do?
posted by Maias at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


what he said:


Is this a joke? A guy writing "The Rule of the Rabble", with a frowny face photo, emoting in a style that seems copped from an old Monty Python skit - the ones that featured some British army officer with a swagger stick.

In case Cox isn't just pulling the collective leg, he really should read something about the history of Britain. I'm not talking about the ransom for Richard the Lionhearted. Or even the constant and ongoing negotiations with Barbary 'pirates' - in the seventeenth century, there was a lively trade in captured english seamen, who were prized as slaves in North Africa. The phrase turn turk was coined for those who converted and rose in the ranks - oftentimes, there was more social promotion in North Africa than in London.

If this isn't a tongue in cheek column, Cox obviously has been mislead by movies and boy's own adventures books about the reality of Army and Navy life. That "we might not have the stomach to fight the equivalent of an Iran-Iraq war" has to be the single most howlingly funny sentence committed to paper by a Toryish pontificator since the eighties. Gee, not having the stomach for a war killing a million people, pursued by chemical weapons, involving charges of the unarmed over mine fields. Really, Westerners are so soft! Let's all get out our sticks and stoutly march around our desks.

posted by geos at 9:58 AM on April 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Although I have limited sympathy when bad things happen to people who are stupid enough to sign up for the armed forces, I would say that if you've just been captured you're gonna do whatever you think is likely to get you out in one piece.

Especially when even your own side don't give a shit for that Geneva Convention thing.
posted by Jakey at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2007


Maybe it's just my degenerate western "solipsistic, relativist materialism" and "sentimental empathy" but I think aiming for "honor" at the sacrifice of human life is pretty damned stupid

The thing is, there's nothing 'honorable' about this. Only children who've seen too many Hollywood movies really believe that a totally purposeless and unnecessary death is honorable. It really is remarkable. It's like somebody decided to remake the beginning of the 20th century right down to the jingoistic idiots crowing about sacrifice.
posted by nixerman at 10:01 AM on April 10, 2007


Goodie bags....are you f’ing joking me? And they kept them?
Reminds me of Billy Pilgrim and his ladies jacket. The whole thing could have been written by Vonnegut if there were some aliens involved. They gas thousands of people. They pass out goodie bags to a few who later complain about the quality of them. Some they torture, others they rape and kill, still others they flick the ears of. The latter weep from the shame and go to the media to show how ashamed they are. And how scared they were they might have been one of the tortured or raped. People empathize. Newspapers sell. So it goes.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


After this month's events, we may no longer be capable of striking terror into our foes, and this may ultimately mean we have to cease "punching above our weight" on the world stage.

You guys haven't been able to strike terror into anybody since Thatcher, and we've all seen you as wimps since Major. I think it's your pretence at still being important in the world that makes this sting--it's kinda obvious now you're not at all.

The fact that all public statements during this by Blair were amazingly weak and non-threatening didn't help either.
posted by amberglow at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2007


rocket88:
The US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, etc. are not theocracies. Iran is. That is the difference.

OK maybe the US is, a little...
posted by Mister_A at 10:26 AM on April 10, 2007


I think that we should have more of this.
Every captured soldier/sailor/enemy combatant should complain about the quality of the enemy gifts. This will start a vicious circle of gift escalation, and instead of using cluster bombs, we'll be carpet bombing iPods on unsuspecting populaces.
Then, of course, someone will fuck up and carpet bomb with the outlawed-on-humanitarian-ground Zune, and there'll be a security council resolution and an invasion.
Ah well, it would be good while it lasted.


Like a hostage potlatch thing! perfect!
posted by amberglow at 10:28 AM on April 10, 2007


Batchelor and the woman were the only ones who got paid?
posted by amberglow at 10:30 AM on April 10, 2007


Can't Mr. Bean buy himself a new iPod with the money he made selling his story. Crybaby indeed.
posted by HyperBlue at 10:39 AM on April 10, 2007


Iran probably gave them back because of all their whining.
posted by tadellin at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2007


Why were these Brits were afraid of being molested and tortured? Did they think they'd been captured by Americans?

As far as "religious books," one big difference between Iran and the U.S.A. is that Iran is explicitly a Twelver Shi'ite Islamic Republic whose consitutional Supreme Leader is a religious figure. Whereas the U.S.A. is a controlled by a secret cabal of space lizards who want to force you into Gay marriage and convert you to Islam.

So no I'm not surprised, nor do I care. I don't know what the U.S. gives its captives to read, but UNLIKE IN IRAN it would illegal under First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to try to convert foreign a P.O.W. to Christianity because the United States of America is NOT a Christian country. (Maybe the U.S.'s captives get goody bags with T** C***** action figures and a book on Mental Health?)

Seriously, as for "honor" in that context, I second nixerman. I read somewhere that a good practice is to give troops or secret agents fake but plausible secrets to confess just so they won't be too badly harmed. If you really want captives to endure torture you'll have staff your armed forces and intelligence services with nothing but masochists, which might cause other problems (such as rushing to surrender).

[This took so long to compose because I unsuccessfully searched for a very small sample of a quick rimshot; anybody know of one?]
posted by davy at 10:43 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. Cox looks a lot like this dude, and the article reads like it was written by that dude, too, albeit s/USA/UK/g.
posted by everichon at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2007


Huh, never would have guessed Rowan Atkinson was big in Iran.

Only once Mr Bean was translated.
posted by dhartung at 10:55 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I somehow lost a brilliant comment I made, basically commenting that it's funny that the conservative bloggers in the U.S., who fanned the flames of derision toward these British sailors for their "cowardice" when they were captured, are the same bloggers who turned a blind eye to the draft-dodging by their favorite conservative leaders (Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Giuliani).

How can you be outraged by the behavior of the British sailors, who after all, DID join up, when your own damned favorite leaders were too cowardly to even join up?
posted by jayder at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


jayder, OTHER PRIORITIES!
posted by Mister_A at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2007


I could swear I remember learning about basically the same controversy from the 1950s, America and Korea. And the lesson I remember learning was that from then on, regular soldiers could talk as much as they want to keep from being tortured/killed.

Don't swear. The U.S. military Code of Conduct says:
(a) When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.
(b) I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.
(c) I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2007


Kirth G., if your superiors give you false "secrets" to spare you excruciating pain you're not being disloyal. So, like, if you're ever captured on my behalf I'd be disappointed if you rat me out before they've slapped your soles with a ruler a few times, but if they're threatening to probe your anus with a potato peeler go ahead and tell them I am a frigging fruitcake.
posted by davy at 11:34 AM on April 10, 2007


What jayrider said.
posted by davy at 11:34 AM on April 10, 2007


davy, I didn't say I would do (a), (b), or (c), or that anyone else should. I just wanted to correct DU's mistaken recollection concerning what soldiers are advised to do.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2007


If the US hadn't had those Iranians arrested in Kurdistan, the Revolutionary Guard wouldn't have retaliated by arresting these poor British Sailors and Marines.
posted by Megafly at 11:57 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Did they actually know anything of value to the Iranians? They weren't high-up in the food chain at all. I thought they were taken solely and specifically to be bargaining chips to get their people freed--what Megafly said.
posted by amberglow at 12:01 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm sorry, but calling him Mr. Bean as a means of torture is pretty funny. It's strikingly similar to the method I used on my brother for many years.

To be fair, though, I don't know how well I'd hold up as a captive.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:04 PM on April 10, 2007


Sometime I wish people would get some facts before calling people out for things like cowardice etc. The official stance on capture by the British military is quite different than the US's, meaning that the Brits tell thier soldiers to do what it takes to stay alive - that everyone knows this political theater is a sham and no one of consequence takes it seriously. The US says something akin to 'name, rank, serial number'
posted by sfts2 at 12:04 PM on April 10, 2007


Also, as has been reiterated Christ knows how many times but doesn't seem to have sunk in, at no point were they prisoners of war.
posted by Abiezer at 12:10 PM on April 10, 2007


They thought they were going to be killed. They were held blindfolded and had guns cocked at them. How is that not pressure? The woman believed she would be raped, and was held in isolation for most of the time; at one point some of the men also thought they might sexually assaulted. That it didn't happen may mean that these fears were based on strong stereotypes of the Iranian government, but they were real fears all the same. And considering that same government has been known to rape, torture and kill their own citizens, those fears are not entirely unbased.

To not cooperate would have been dangerous and just stupid - and the people who really should have our distain are the insufferably hubristic keyboard warriors who claim they would have remained defiant while blindfolded and having a gun cocked at them - well, perhaps they should just go on a sailing trip around the Persian gulf.
posted by jb at 12:28 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


The [U.S.] Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces

Apparently, the British military does have a different approach:
Britain's Ministry of Defence appeared happy enough with the way the 15 conducted themselves. Whitehall sources pointed out that they were not prisoners of war and were thus not expected simply to supply their "name, rank, serial number and date of birth" - the "big four" mythologised in war films.

Instead, they followed rules for "conduct in capture" under which a British military source stated: "It is fine to tell your captors roughly what they want to hear - as long as you don't give away anything classified, put anyone's life in danger or breach operational security."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:28 PM on April 10, 2007


Kirth G., I meant that as an "attention-whore" joke. Maybe my aim is still off? And thanks for effectively reinforcing my point.

And while IANAIL, I'd think, Abiezer, that whether your "troops" are invading another country or they're invade yours, any captives from either side are thereby POWs. With or without a formal Declaration of War beforehand. E.g., if an Icelandic gunship enters New Zealand waters without prior invitation the Icelanders should not be surprised if their ship gets apprehended or even fired on and sunk, as a de facto state of war exists in that immediate situation. What else could NORAD be for? Should the U.S. wait to see if the missiles hit anything important before they take action? And yes, I am equating a military ship to a military missile: DUH. (So yes, if a nukular missile had a cowboy riding on it, if caputured he'd be a prisoner of war.)
posted by davy at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2007


Well, obviously you're privy to a perspective unavailable to the MOD or the Iranian military then davy, neither of which saw fit to decribe these people as POWs nor the disputed border incursion as an invasion.
posted by Abiezer at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2007


"Only children who've seen too many Hollywood movies really believe that a totally purposeless and unnecessary death is honorable."

I can't imagine you thought about this much before you wrote it. This way of thinking has plagued young men throughout history. (Assuming what you meant was that the death is, from others' perspectives, purposeless and unnecessary.) If it isn't something inherent in the young masculine mind, and you want to blame it on entertainment and art, then that, too, has been ever-present. You might want to check out Iliad.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm thinking those sailors are not and were not really down with the direction their govt has taken in the Middle East. It's a FUBAR and surely everyone over there below the rank of political appointee knows it.
posted by wrapper at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2007


I think, Abiezer, that that's because the "disputed border incursion" was a ONE-boat invasion that was easily dealt with. But I could be wrong; are there any military historians, international lawyers, or other applicable types of experts about to help us out here? Or is nobody paying attention but us half-informed amateurs infesting this thread so far?

Ethereal Bligh, have you read much about Iroquois torture? Yikes. I'd rather be crucified, at least it gets you out in the open air.
posted by davy at 1:11 PM on April 10, 2007


i was taken prisoner by the iranian government and all they gave me was this lousy t-shirt
posted by pyramid termite at 1:31 PM on April 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ha! They gave me Chicken Soup for the Infidel Imperialist's Soul. Also, a plate of beans.
posted by Mister_A at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2007


Iran has shown the British what kind of people we really are: without honour and without shame.

And better off without either when it's not important.

Maybe if it was a war with a purpose, one where the troops actually cared about the reason they were putting their lives on line fighting for Queen and Country. Maybe then those two traits are admirable (still fucking stupid if you ask me, especially when you are just a pleb in a battle between monkeys in suits).

But this wasn't a war and there's fuck all reason they are over there tangled up in that mess of Bush and Blairs doing.

Good on them.
posted by twistedonion at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Being tormented by being called Mr Bean though... why oh why would you ever tell anyone that story. He's going to be tormented when he gets back to work. Shit like that sticks.
posted by twistedonion at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2007


Mister_A, were they fava beans?
posted by davy at 1:51 PM on April 10, 2007


Is it just me, or are these accidental invasions becoming more common than they used to be?
posted by Martin E. at 2:28 PM on April 10, 2007


Exactly Twistedonion. That's the real fuckup here, not leaving that shit in Iran.

"Hey Bob, remember when you were captured by the Iranians and they kept saying you looked like Mr. Bean? Hahahahahaaha, you fucking pillock."

All Mr. Bean dolls everywhere, people always trying to put a giant chicken carcass on your head when you weren't looking. I'd rather the Revolutionary Guard dungeons.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:31 PM on April 10, 2007


What were seeing here is the demarcation between Pre-Modern and (post?)Modern humanity.

On the one hand, you have people who think that you should allow yourself to be tortured and killed to keep The State or Society (whatever those two are) from loosing face, and on the other hand, you've got people who think that actual human lives are more important than some meaningless construct like honor.

What it really boils down to is that some conservatives are pissed that we value our own lives more than the average jihadist value their own.

Very telling, I think.
posted by Avenger at 3:31 PM on April 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


Some people are just pissed that there was a perfect opportunity to start a full-on war with Iran, and these wussies diddn't take one for the team.
posted by belling at 3:41 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


But some of us don't think that way and don't want endless war everywhere and aggression--we still think the British came off looking really really wimpy in how they all handled all of this.

If the soldiers knew there were cameras on them at all time, why did they try to make their stories so sobworthy and dangerous? It doesn't follow. Didn't they know that Iran had tapes of them playing games and laughing and not at all acting like hostages under death threat? Didn't the British bigwigs realize that?
posted by amberglow at 4:54 PM on April 10, 2007


'We Gathered Intelligence'-- ... The captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran has said they were gathering intelligence on the Iranians.

Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested - just five days before the crisis began.

We withheld the interview until now so it would not jeopardise their safety....

posted by amberglow at 5:07 PM on April 10, 2007


and related to all of this: An Iranian opposition group based in Iraq, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, gets protection from the U.S. military despite Iraqi pressure to leave the country.

The U.S. considers the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, a source of valuable intelligence on Iran.

The group also is credited with helping expose Iran's secret nuclear program through spying on Tehran for decades. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:27 PM on April 10, 2007


amberglow, that's dishonest. The 'intelligence gathering' has already been covered in the relevant thread; it wasn't 'intelligence' in the way that CIA spooks use the term. They were asking about smuggling activities.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:27 PM on April 10, 2007


of course in today's society you can always look at "Mr Bean's" Bebo - a kind of British lame-ass spin-off of Myspace. He looks very sweet in some of the photos.

Before the comments of stalker start I'd like to point out his was a 'featured profile' and I didn't actually search for him.
posted by muthecow at 5:33 PM on April 10, 2007


amberglow, that's dishonest. The 'intelligence gathering' has already been covered in the relevant thread; it wasn't 'intelligence' in the way that CIA spooks use the term. They were asking about smuggling activities.

Who says they were "asking about smuggling activities"? Since when do you ask Iranians (or anyone on Earth) whether they smuggle or know of smuggling or not, and expect to get an honest answer? How many of those captured actually speak Farsi?

And it's not dishonest to add a link from one of those very media outlets who were splashing their sobstories all over the media.
posted by amberglow at 5:44 PM on April 10, 2007


And how many of them if any speak Arabic? News reports say they were talking to the barge sailors, operators, and its master about documents--how?
posted by amberglow at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2007


I've often thought I'd make a good soldier or sailor, partly because I'd make such a good hostage. I mean, they'd be sticking letter openers and shit under my fingernails and I'd be screaming for them to dunk my head in a vat of piss, sodomize me with that claw hammer, you bastards, and they'd be pulling my toes out and cracking them like walnuts, showing me pictures of my family, and I'd be shouting at them to burn the soles of my feet with a red-hot poker, cut my fucking dick off, and when they took me up on that demand, I'd be moaning, tears of blood running down my face, but I'd muster the concentration to conjure up the biggest veiny hard-on those fuckers have ever seen, and they'd get nothing from me, not even after they tossed my dick to the dogs and seared my balls to cinders; I'd just smile and go on singing "Be Ready When He Comes." I mean, what kind of a propaganda victory is a blood-blackened broken hulk covered in shit and piss with a smile of joy on his torn lips, bellowing, "Be ready, be ready, be ready when He comes! Be ready, be ready, be ready when He comes!"

Actually, I'd probably do everything they told me to. Just nobody tell me to play a hand of solitaire once I'm home safe.
posted by breezeway at 5:50 PM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


The only indication of any language skills i've seen is this: ...According to IRNA, the British sailors and marines spoke a few words and phrases of Farsi that they had learned during their 13 days in captivity, thanking the Iranian leadership for releasing them. ...
posted by amberglow at 5:59 PM on April 10, 2007


Iranians want Big Brother, but the big bad religious leaders say they can't have it. Well, someone has to stand up for the people, and this time the Revolutionary Guard did, in the best way they know how.

Democracy in action.
posted by saysthis at 7:31 PM on April 10, 2007


It's worth considering that the unit's behavior was influenced by having a woman in it. A biological fact is that women are both physically weaker and vulnerable to sexual abuse in a way that men are not. Because of this, the British men would have naturally been fearful for the sole woman's safety, particularly considering the perception of Muslim culture as being violent towards women. This inevitably would damage their morale, cohesion, and determination to resist their captors.

I note that the IDF and US military both keep losing their recent wars, which both have women in combat roles. Well-established naval and military tradition both regard females as unsuited to boats and combat. Could there be something to this "stone age" view after all? Maybe there's a reason for the collapse of the British military.
posted by Bletch at 9:15 PM on April 10, 2007


The Soviets had women in the military during WWII.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:43 PM on April 10, 2007


Avenger: Thank you. Couldn't have put it better.

The irony of you being an _Avenger_ in this context can't, however, be missed. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 5:42 AM on April 11, 2007


The head of the International Red Cross in Tehran says he saw wounds on an Iranian diplomat who has alleged that US forces in Iraq tortured him.
posted by chunking express at 7:26 AM on April 11, 2007


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