Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Released sailors tell of ordeal

Thankfully the fifteen British personnel have been released by Iran and have been recounting the ordeal they suffered during their time in captivity.

Some people, on both sides of the Atlantic, have denounced their behaviour during their time in captivity, criticising them for cooperating with the propaganda exercise so carefully, and seemingly successfully, mounted by the Iranian government (and it has worked, because so many seem to swallow whole the story the Iranians have peddled with their propaganda videos). I studiously avoided posting here about the whole incident during the time the fourteen men and one woman remained in illegal captivity; I did and do not think it would have been wise for anyone, even the 'voice' that my little blog has on the internet, to engage in second-guessing what was going on in Iran, for fear that even this would be used by the Iranian propaganda machine. Many other commentators, mostly with little or no personal knowledge of military affairs, felt perfectly free to make judgements. I am pleased that, since their return to this country, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band has defended the crew (for the next 7 days you should be able to hear what he said during a Today programme interview here); as he said during the interview the priority now is to continue the debriefing of these fifteen personnel to find out what actually did happen during their time as 'guests' of the Iranians, so that whatever lessons need to be learned for the future can be factored into future operational missions. It appals me that so many, who know little or nothing about such a situation, feel free to jump in with half-baked assessments. And, for our friends on the other side of the Atlantic, our military does not operate, thankfully, to the same 'rules of engagement' which your military does, nor indeed do our military operate to the same rules which formerly governed their own behaviour when captured - of course, neither does this country 'render' people for torture in dubious secret prisons, nor hold 'enemy combatants' in legal limbo outside the jurisdiction of our own court system; quite frankly since the present US administration came into power this country, the UK, has absolutely nothing to learn from the shambles that country has got itself into morally under its President today. We may share the same basic aims, but I'm afraid our methods of achieving those aims are governed by different rules even if our own present government has itself, in my view, lost sight of the bigger picture of what we are trying to preserve in the 'war on terror'; if you have to destroy something in order to save it then the terrorists have won. And what we are trying to save is our liberty and freedom, both physically and intellectually.

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