April 04, 2007

Iran and the British Sailors

The British sailors have been released. I have refrained from commenting on this because I couldn't see a good way out of it. There has been much criticism of the British government policy- but to be honest I fail to see what more they could have done. The end result is the one we all would have wanted. The only alternatives would have been sanctions which might well have prolonged the sailors' imprisonment without extracting them or would have been war. Personally given the situation in the Middle East I don't think war is a sensible option for either us or the United States at the moment- we don't have the troops, we have enough problems in Iraq, we have enough problems with nuclear proliferation including Iran but also North Korea and a war started now would not be started on our terms and would make us even more unpopular throughout the Islamic world. Kathryn Jean Lopez continues to think that it represents a victory for Iran and maybe in public relations terms it does- but I fail to see any better result, from the moment that the British were captured than the one we have today. My own view is that the whole episode has been one of embarassment on all sides- the Iranians have made a mistake- our sailors were captured. This is the best solution- we get the sailors back and the Iranians pretend they have saved face. Ultimately we have what we want- the sailors have been released and no concessions have been made by the UK to Iran, as far as we know.

This is just a brief post and I don't have more to say- apart from the fact that I hope there isn't a news conference- my feeling is and has always been that the British sailors were definitely not in Iranian waters- the Iranians said so at the beggining and then reversed their position- personally I think we owe it to them as individuals that we leave them to their families at the moment. Today its a time in my view, if the stories are true, to give three cheers for the diplomatic service that got them out of the situation, a job well done- no war and the prisoners home strikes me as a victory for British Diplomacy.

LATER Glenn Greenwald summarises what some of the supporters of war have been saying, in particular Mario Loyola, Mark Steyn and the National Review staff here.


"Clarence" said...

Here here! I never understand the pundits who view situations such as these from a media relations standpoint. In 2001, when a Chinese warplane intercepted a U.S. surveillance plane and captured all 24 airmen onboard, pundits everywhere were calling for demands, sanctions, military exercises, etc. in order to put pressure on the Chinese. In the end, the U.S. State Dept. did well by ignoring all those voices. What worked in the end was good 'ole diplomacy. Within our discussions about international relations, sometimes we lose sight of the big picture.

I wonder if all those people demanding a "tough response" would feel the same if it were their son or daughter being held.

Graeme said...

What happened was as ideal as we could possibly hope for. Iran can claim victory and Britain can likewise claim victory. A military response would have been disastrous on so many different levels.

Gracchi said...

I agree with both of you. The reason I didn't write about this before was that I found their plight very upsetting, I think everyone should be pleased they are coming home. There is obviously a question about whether a deal was struck- according to the Iranians it wasn't they might be lying but if it was then we would have to look at the terms of that deal. Having said that my overwhelming reaction tonight is relief and I think praise for the diplomats who negotiated this, if as it looks nothing was given away, then this is a great move and as you both imply a real vindication of the British low key strategy.

Anonymous said...

A- feelings somehow cannot aid navigating a bicycle never mind a boat, so it would serve you well to navigate with compass, charts, and GPS instead of your feelings as and when you set out to sea!

B- Apparently your upset is a cursory affair, judging by your concern about what horse trading has been taking place in the background.

C- The fake maps produced by MOD, and then quickly withdrawn, once the questions start pouring in, leaving the original multiple coordinates to be found in the google cache, says it all. (the single point published in fact is backed up by the image of another set of coordinates on the GPS cited.)

D- Just for your information, waterway safety, and orderly conduct of traffic falls onto the nation bordering the waterways, and her coast guards, in a busy stretch of water, that evidently our boys decide to play water games, scooting in and out of the lanes, and border lines, they were heading for trouble. These water ways are not the little local pool with a bunch of eleven years old on pedalos having fun!

E- At least try and familiarise yourself with some background on navigation before sitting in judgement, and pontification of the said jurisprudence.

F- The case in point has been made in the post above, those hawks whom go on about their readiness to fight the whole bally planet to the last drop of the last someone else standing, are never found in the vicinity of any fights, never mind in the thick of the troubles that they cause.

G- The case has been made; Blair turned a simple border dispute into the crisis, that was left to the diplomats to deftly navigate out of the troubled waters so to speak of, and their triumph was to gag the fearless leader long enough before he went and put his foot in his mouth again.

H- Once again we find jaw, jaw is better than, shock and awe any-day, any-where, any-how.

USpace said...

Good one, good news...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
kidnap some sailors

trump up some charges
distract the world buy more time

Gracchi said...

Anonymous we agree about the main point I think. Just to clarify the only GPS data so far presented is from the MoD clarifying they weren't in Iranian waters. The Iranians gave two sets of coordinates one saying that they were in Iraqi waters first and then a hastily corrected set which aaid they were in Iranian waters. The navigation on that part of the Persian gulf is anyway extremely complicated.

Any cursory posting is because I posted in an incredible hurry- unlike in a newspaper blogging is not done in a measured way all the time and binds in to other parts of one's life- this was a case in point where I had a deadline to meet but wanted to say something about the Iranians.

Having said that we are in agreement about diplomacy.

Uspace if you are presuming an Iranian conspiracy- my own view at the moment is that there was a series of cock ups rather than a conspiracy.

The truth is that we shall never know- but as anonymous says in this case jaw-jaw did turn out much better than war-war would have done.

USpace said...

Good point, the New Hitler sure is a peaceful one. Poor sailors, Iran does want war I am afraid...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
abandon your soldiers

never retaliate
raise voice then apologize

Anonymous said...


Your point about the Iranians hastily changing co-ordinates are based on the 'spin' put out by the same bunch of operators, whom seek to expand the envelope of destruction with a view to save their sad, and sorry butts.

MoD producing fake maps, proceeds to announce the 'mistaken' coordinates supplied by Iranians. In fact it is MoD which supplied two different coordinates, whilst discounting the coordinates supplied by the Iranians as 2.8 miles inside Iraqi waters!

The radar screen shots supplied by the Iranians are clearly indicating the time, position, bathymetric data, which to any marine incident investigator is an open and shut case of who was where and when.

The detailed data then is countered by a red dashed line drawn against blobs denoting territories, with no references of any kind, ie a fake map, a drawing, an artistic expression.

However, in the current climate of hysteria, thinking is a dangerous preoccupation for anyone, we find the traction gained by the Mod story as a natural and expected outcome.

Finally, just reading the comments by the ill informed troll who is busy mixing god, hitler, etc. Those in charge of the fake map story, and scurrilous lies about the mistaken coordinates hastily replaced by a new set of coordinates by those dastardly Persians, have no fear of being caught out, and held accountable.

You see in the world of brainwashed zombies, accountability does not exist, and responsibility for any wrong actions can be passed on to the next guy along, in a heartbeat.

Dog ate my home work, is a credible reason for the credulous population, whose consent has been manufactured, and perception managed (semantically incorrect puts as brain washed), hence the bizarre Alice in wonderland world, situation, where right is wrong, up is down, etc.

However, 'you can fool some of the people some of the time, but can't fool all of the people all of the time' holding true, currently there is a FOI filed to MoD, with respect to the clarification, of the two different sets of coordinates supplied by Mod, and which of the two sets denote the position of the UK personnel? Fact is as we debate the various sites carrying the actual photos of the different coordinates are being amended.

Gracchi said...

Thank you for your comment again Anonymous. Yes the first set of Iranian coordinates were from an MoD report about what the Iranians had told them. I'll be interested in the conclusion of the FOI request you mention- but can you tell me has anyone covered any change in the positions coming out of the MoD- are there screen grabs and such like and if there are could you send me their URLs. I don't see this as a UK government effort to get an Iranian invasion past- partly because the government has downplayed the whole issue and tried to deal with it diplomatically which is right. What I wonder is whether this was really about the establishment of claims over the waters which as I understand have been disputed for a long time- since before 2003 at least. But I would be interested in screen grabs if there are any around and the results of that FOI request.