Do These People Look Like Prisoners Of War To You?
Or a bunch of game show contestants? As commenter Walrus said over on Sic Semper Tyrannis, "The Iranians have pulled off the perfect snatch job, milked it for all it was worth, made the British Navy look like idiots, and released the prisoners they day before Good Friday. They win. We lose." This is a stunning coup for Iran, absolutely masterful. For once, they were able to effectively control the PR reality in the Western media, and that is a meaningful victory. Now that they've created some goodwill space in which to manoevre, today they announced their willingness to go straight to the nuclear bargaining table. They are taking away the Cheney Administration's reasons to attack.
For Britain, the behavior of its Navy and its Marines is a stinging humiliation. Look at those smiles on their faces, and those suits. They're laughing, and look more like contestants on "The Apprentice" than like soldiers. They aren't standing at attention. They aren't acting with the gravity expected from POWs. The suits and open dress shirts are like those favored by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Can you imagine more effective counter-propaganda? Maybe if they were pictured sailing or yacting, I suppose.
On the British marines who were seized, there is no hard evidence yet on whether the boats were in Iranian waters. Despite the UK Government protestations to the contrary, however, at best the water borders are badly defined in the area, and at worst it was a flagrant violation of territorial sovereignty. What facts there are don't support the British claims on the surface of them. For example, the marines were more than 10 miles closer inland from their ship, the HMS Cornwall, and when captured, the water depth was 12 feet; the former fact indicates a captain's incompetence, the latter indicates they were close to a shoreline when they boarded a merchant vessel loading or unloading cargo. Slam dunk.
As for no quid pro quo, there are credible reports five of the Iranian diplomats taken hostage by US forces in Iraq are being released. Hopefully the attacks on Iran scheduled for the 6 o'clock news tonight have been called off. I sure hope so.