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Lamenting the absurdity of the UK sailors saga

July 26, 2007

Oh, the absurdity!  The callous disregard for justice, honesty, and fairness is depressing, more so because of the chorus of lofty claims to these values.  Well, there is a new twist in the saga involving the 15 British sailors who were captured in (very likely) Iranian waters. 

As I have written in "Just say you're sorry", there is plenty of evidence to refute the British claim regarding that incident.  Now, it turns out that the maps used by the British government to make their case were inaccurate after all, according to a British parliamentary report.  These are the very same maps plastered all over Fox, CNN, BBC, etc. usually along with the word “hostage” to add that extra dash of Western righteousness.

“We conclude that there is evidence to suggest that the map of the Shatt al-Arab waterway provided by the Government was less clear than it ought to have been.” the report said. “The Government was fortunate that it was not in Iran's interests to contest the accuracy of the map.”

I wonder what they mean by “not in Iran’s interests.”  Do they mean not in Ahmadinejad’s interests?  Or were they going to bomb us based on inaccurate maps and false claims, and hence it wasn’t going to be pretty for Iran?

The director of research at International Boundaries Unit at Durham University, Martin Pratt, concluded that “there are sufficient uncertainties over boundary definition in the area to make it inadvisable to state categorically that the vessel was in Iraqi waters.”  

At the time, I had an exchange of emails with Mr. Pratt.  He defended the British position.  I asked him if his unit was funded by the British government, which would be a natural question.  He defended the impartiality of IBU.  I only assume that the same impartiality applies today, and I do wonder why his doubts about the maps were not expressed more vigorously when there was a real possibility of confrontation.  Unfortunately, none of the major media outlets are covering this new information with the same fanfare that they used to paint Iran as the aggressor.

While I’m lamenting the absurdity of all this, I should also point out the absurdity in the “revolutionary rhetoric” of Ahmadinejad’s government as it pertains to this case.  With that familiar Basiji zeal, they arrest Iranian-American academics on trumped up charges.  But when it came to defending “the revolution” in a legitimate international case, they flinched.  They could have made a legal case. 

To start with, they could have NOT paraded the British sailors on TV and treated them in accordance with international law.  I suppose the cheap propaganda was just too enticing.  They could have demanded the release of the five Iranian diplomats.  After all, Britain is a proud member of the very coalition that is holding them in violation of international law.  But, no, the revolutionary air just fizzled out.

Meanwhile, the war drums are beating evermore vigorously in Washington.  Even though, the US military figures show that less than 10% of the insurgents are foreigner, they still are pushing for bombing Iran.  Even though the latest National Intelligence Estimate points to NUCLEAR Pakistan as Al-Qaeda’s sanctuary, they still have their crosshairs set on Iran. 

And it appears that Bush and Cheney have something special in mind.  There are rumors on the internet that the US military is outfitting the B-2 Stealth bomber with special racks to carry 30,000 pound bombs!  That would be at least double the size of daisy cutters used in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Iran and Iranians get the special treatment.

-- Reuters: MPs criticise map used in Iran crisis
-- The Australian: British map in Iran crisis 'inaccurate'
-- Guardian: Report attacks 'myth' of foreign fighters
-- Daily Kos: Stealths fitted with bunker buster bomb racks

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