At least detained British soldiers in Iran weren't
wearing orange suits and chains
June 25, 2004
"Our Boys shown blindfolded on Iranian TV" / "Forced
to make confessions and say sorry." This was how UK daily
The Sun Wednesday reported the capture of eight British
by Iranian forces on page two, with headshots of the men under
the strapline: "SICKENING".
"The Iranians breached the Geneva Convention by showing
six Royal Marine Commandos and two Royal Navy sailors wearing blindfolds," said
its report. This was all the more objectionable given that "Britain
helped hundreds and thousands made homeless in the Bam earthquake
that killed 35,000 Iranians" last December.
The Murdoch-owned tabloid ran the story as the second item in
its leader column under the banner: "Pray Iran listens".
But its short rant admitted: "There are signs the men's
ordeal may soon be over". It went on to commend foreign secretary
Jack Straw for his efforts at building bridges with the mullahs: "Iranian
society is a complex mixture of conservatives and reformers. Straw
is one of the few Western leaders to make an effort to understand
Sun political editor Trevor Kavanagh condemned what he called "a
genuine outrage" but went on to say "we have a surprisingly
good relationship with Iran." He added: "With Iraq still
unstable and neighbouring Saudi Arabia fighting for survival, the
last thing we need is a row with Iran."
Daily Mail splashed (a right-wing tabloid which serves
Englander" middle class in contrast to the Sun's uncouth
workers). Columnist Ann Leslie flexed her intellectual muscles: "It's
easy to mock Bush's simplistic 'good and evil' world
view -- just as it was easy to mock the late President Reagan's
equally 'simplistic' good-and-evil denunciation of the
Soviet Union as 'the evil empire'. But both men were
and -- are right." Well, that's settled then.
The subheadings "Corrupt", "Threatened", and "Paranoid",
broke up her piece, hinting of course at the mullahs and not herself.
After berating the Islamic Republic for its nuclear ambitions,
she said: "We even sent the hapless Prince Charles on a humanitarian
mission to visit the the victims of the massive Ban earthquake... We
should have earned 'brownie points' from the regime
for all this." Brownies, of course, being a reference to the
girl scout movement, not the natives in Iran -- you never no
with these right-wingers.
She added: "Why did they parade
the eight Britons blindfolded on state television?" Hey, at
least they weren't wearing orange suits and chains. "Captive
marines paraded on TV" was the Daily Telegraph's headline
with three picture on men in blindfolds dominating the front page
of Britain's best-selling -- and right-wing -- broadsheet. "Why
are our men being held hostage Mr Blair?" its leader demanded. "These
men have been held without charge under military interrogation
at an undisclosed location ever since without access to British
diplomats." You'd think they were suspected "enemy
It advised Tony Blair to "swallow his pride and ask George
W Bush for diplomatic and military support. When British servicemen
are captured by a hostile power while doing their duty, they deserve
to have the full weight of the Western alliance aligned with them." That's
right -- run to daddy. The paper's diplomatic editor Anton La
Guardia wrote: "Hawks in America, who have long been hostile
to Britain's rapprochement with Iran, are likely to seize
on the Shatt al-Arab incident as proof that Teheran simply cannot
be trusted, and that it is best to confront the mullahs rather
than appease them." Cock that trigger baby.
This theme was picked up on by the paper's defence editor
John Keegan: "Iran is, historically, a great power. It is,
in actual terms, one of the most advanced societies outside the
Western world. National pride will encourage the Iranians to become
a nuclear power... [the West] will have to take braver steps than
hitherto, as it will also have to against North Korea." This
was a clear indication that the ruling class in Britain would be
prepared to support another imperialist war -- against Iran.
La Guardia wrote: "Diplomatic veterans of Teheran argue that
the mullahs may be tactically cunning but often lack and overall
strategy. They play draughts rather than chess." Chess? Ah,
like bombing Iraq.
What the above in fact serves to show is that the mullahs have
scored a PR coup which has put the currently flag-waving English
on the defensive. While only the Telegraph referred to the prisoners
as hostages echoes of the hostage crisis abound. Unless the soldiers
complain of mistreatment once the mullahs have had their fun with
them, which is unlikely, the Islamic Republic will have successfully
humbled the British, America's key ally.
The references to the Geneva Convention won't stick -- how
can the gangster mullahs take their cue from the West when its
disregard for human life has led to the outrages we have witnessed
from Abu Ghraib prison to Rafah.
The men in a boat affair has also introduced UK Iranians, perhaps
for the first time, to the prospect of having to take sides between
adopted country and motherland -- something the US's
misnamed "Persian" community has long grappled with.
(The solution by the way is easy -- we are British and as Brits
we do not believe that Our Boys should be in Iraqi territorial
waters in the first place let alone Iranian ones, where they were
rightly arrested. As Brits we are glad that these men will receive
better treatment than many Iranian asylum seekers get when they
enter UK waters but do not believe they should be kept until
they sew their mouths up in protest so release them forthwith.)