I’m a Marine, patriotic, and human, so when I see a foreign nation holding 10 of our military personnel on the knees at gunpoint, it angers me. That is a right and just response and regardless of your politics, that should bother you as well. The ethos that says we bow to no man is engrained deep within the American fighting spirit although, many honorable men and warfighters have been captured by the enemy in conflicts long past. Coming on the heels of the Iranian nuclear agreement, such a provocative action does seem a little hard to swallow in that they were less than courteous to us on the high seas and we just guaranteed them a nuclear weapon and all. As we try to determine the nature of this action, the subsequent treatment of the prisoners, and the public apology, I thought back to a video from the movie Joan of Arc that I thought relevant. Joan is trying to explain why she believed a sword in a field was a sign and she gets some rather logical backtalk. It’s one minute, watch it now and then proceed.
What Exactly Did We See?
Did we see an Iranian boat speed into international waters to take over 2 American craft or 2 American craft intentionally speed into Iranian waters for clandestine purposes? Were the Iranians simply on more of a war footing than us and quickly reacted suspiciously to American craft in their waters? Is this the weak incompetence of Obama and Kerry or aggressive action of a hostile Iran? Did the American sailors give up without a fight after unlawful intimidation at sea making the Iranians the Pirates of the Persian Gulf or was it advisable to stand down. Then, much as in the video, there might be the inexplicable where the Navy dudes just got lost through incompetence because they let Carl drive. Who knows, but in order see what was we must trash what we want to see. Some might see Obama’s weakness while other’s see a sailor who apologized to the shame of his nation. Personally, I just see the mysterious hand of the incompetent Carl behind all of this.
The truth is that the detainment of military personnel by nations with whom we are not technically at war is nothing new. You can harken back to 2001 when an American surveillance aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter jet and crash landed on Hainan Island. For 10 days, the crew was kept and interrogated while the Chinese no doubt raped the surveillance equipment for any possible value. After an ambiguous letter with an apology of sorts, they were released. In 1960, an American U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union and pilot Gary Powers kept for well over a year or more. In each case, there has to be a decision as to whether a shooting war is what you want right now and if not, you find a way to back out of the situation.
Still Though, Iran Can go Suck a Big One
No matter how you spin it, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not our friend and nor will they be for any part of the foreseeable future. I don’t believe they were any more courteous to our sailors than the Chinese were to the crews of that downed EP-3 surveillance plane. Threats and intimidation were likely par for the course and they no doubt took great pleasure at having members of the mighty American military at their mercy. Oh, and the interpreter in the video sucked. We had better than him in Iraq. This is your national moment of fame Iran and you don’t have any better English speaking personnel on hand?
In the Marines, we have a saying that gear adrift is a gift and I have no doubt the Iranians thought the same thing when they saw two of our boats in their water. They had their way with us and then when they had gotten what they wanted, they rolled over, looked us in the eye and said, “yeah uhm, that was nice but you best get going now.” If we truly wandered into their waters, then we had no business fighting it out and starting a hot war through our own negligence. Iran doesn’t want the war right now because they want to get their nuclear bomb first, which they will have within 25 years or less. Still though, Iran can suck a big one.
The Conduct of Navy Personnel in Captivity
I imagine the infamous Carl was at the wheel of the lead boat when it wandered into Iranian waters and about the time our Navy personnel realized it, they yelled “Dang it Carl”, and in comes the Iranian boat. As much as it would have been cool if they shot their way out of there, I’m not sure we should start a shooting war because Carl can’t navigate. As a result, that really didn’t leave out sailors with many options. As a Marine, I would like to think that even if I surrendered that I wouldn’t have gone to my knees until a butt stroke to the back of the head forced me so. But that is just because it would make for a great clip in a movie.
It remains to be seen what kind of communication they had with higher ups. I’m guessing if they had comm with command, they were told to follow directions and we will get you out diplomatically. If they didn’t have communication, then some young Navy officer was just trying to wing this thing on his own. No one died, he didn’t start a war, and us internet Veterans could probably be a little more kind to him. Yes, he apologized on TV, but to be honest, the whole thing may very well have been a misunderstanding and to say, “My bad”, is totally different in my book than apologizing on behalf of a nation. And to be honest, he might have been ordered to do so.
Lastly, did you notice the woman in the corner with her head covered? It is a good thing all of our enemies have just as progressive views on women as America. I mean, there should be no future concern with women in the infantry and what happens to them if captured. Interpret that as you may, but war has a long history of treating women poorly. I don’t know if that was what I really saw or not, but as the Joan of Arc video tells us, I don’t know whether any of us can see anything other than what we want to see. In the end, we saw a boat wander into foreign territory and were subsequently captured. Everything else is up to you, but what is nearly 100% certain is that Carl is the one wearing white socks.
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