Somewhat to my surprise, the Iranians released the 10 American sailors whose boats they had seized yesterday. This immediately set of a coordinated spasm of self-congratulation in the administration, and among its media enablers. The party line was laid down by Kerry, who gushed with gratitude for Iran’s gesture and generosity, and with self-praise, stating that the quick end to the situation was proof positive of the benefits of the Iran deal which he and Obama had so brilliantly brought to fruition. Without the deal, it wouldn’t have ended so quickly or smoothly, according to Kerry.
Excuse me, but if the Iran deal was so great, this incident would not have happened in the first place. If the Iran deal was so great, it would not have happened the way it did, with the US personnel being held at gunpoint, and photographed kneeling with their hands behind their heads while the IRGC went pawing through their equipment. If the Iran deal had been so great, they would not have been taken prisoner by the Iranians, and at one time held blindfolded (and again photographed): even if they were in Iranian waters, they would have been warned away and left to proceed. If the Iran deal was so great, the photographs of the humiliation of the American crews would not have been plastered all over the Internet and Iranian television.
But Kerry did not utter one peep of protest about the seizure of the vessels. He did not question whether the seizure was justified, or necessary. He did not slam the releasing of photographs and videos of American servicemen in submissive positions, a direct contravention of international law (of which Kerry claims to be so fond).
If anything Joe Biden (yeah, the guy Obama has tasked to cure cancer–wrap your head around that one) was even worse, saying that it is “standard nautical practice” to help boats in distress at sea.
I can tell you this: it is not standard nautical practice to assist distressed vessels by forcing their crews to kneel like drug runners on a cigarette boat chased down by the USCG.
And about that distress thing. I called BS on it yesterday, and today the Pentagon sidled away from that: they kinda had to, given that both boats motored away under their own power.
The entire episode remains cloaked in mystery, but I find the Pentagon’s claims of ignorance to be incredible. They continue to say they lost contact, and don’t know how that could have happened. I am pretty sure that the crews would have radioed the situation in as it was unfolding the only way I can conceive that their messages weren’t heard is if the Iranians jammed their communications, which would put a whole different spin on things, wouldn’t it?
The Iranians have also claimed that US ships (including the USS Harry S. Truman) and helicopters made “unprofessional moves” for 40 minutes after the boats were captured. This suggests that the US was aware of the capture and made attempts to interfere. That would blow the entire Gilligan’s Island and “lost contact” narrative.
The US should have had more than enough situational awareness to realize something was up immediately. If they didn’t, some people have some explaining to do. If they did, they have some other kinds of explaining to do.
But it is clear that there will be a concerted effort to draw a curtain over the initiation of the incident in order to celebrate its end, so that little, if any ‘splaining will be going on.
Not. Good. Enough. There are serious issues here, and a full and public accounting of the episode is necessary.
It is particularly serious precisely because it raises grave issues about the Iran deal that Obama and his long-faced Sancho Panza are desperate to defend in spite of–or is it because of?–repeated Iranian provocations.
It is also serious because it raises issues about whether the military is being compromised in order to protect the deal at all costs.
Obviously a tick-tock detailing the exact sequence of events is imperative. But there are other questions (which a supine press has apparently not thought of, or has refused to ask).
For instance, what were the Rules of Engagement? Were the crews given the option of fight or flee, or were they expected to capitulate if confronted by the Iranians?
Did US units in the area find out about the seizure? How? How did they respond? Were they ordered to stand down?
I have to believe there is fury throughout the Navy at this episode. The sight of American sailors kneeling as prisoners on their own combatant vessel must rankle deeply.
Those feelings must be even worse because one of the sailors was shown on Iranian TV apologizing to, and thanking, his captors:
“It was a mistake that was our fault and we apologize for our mistake,” said the U.S sailor, who was identified by Iran’s Press TV as the commander. “It was a misunderstanding. We did not mean to go into Iranian territorial water. The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here. We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance.”
Not acceptable. At all.
I had the Code of Conduct of the United States Armed Forces drilled into my skull plebe year at Navy, and it has remained embedded ever since. And I can tell you that this behavior is clearly contrary to the Code.
One part of the Code is that you will not do anything that gives aid and comfort to the enemy in exchange for better treatment. It is clear that this statement benefited the Iranians: they are using this entire episode for propaganda value, but more importantly, to demonstrate their mastery over Obama: don’t believe for a moment that this isn’t having major repercussions throughout the region. Further, the only reasonable inference is that making such a statement was a precondition for release.
The sailor should not have made this statement. His only possible excuse is that he had been ordered to in order to seal the deal for the release, a possibility which I cannot discount. If anything, that possibility would be even worse, for it would mean that command authority would be ordering the violation of the Code, which was adopted to solve very serious problems with collaboration by POWs during the Korean War that (a) sapped morale, and (b) was used to wage a propaganda war against the US around the world.
This entire episode is disgraceful. A full and searching inquiry is necessary. But that is unlikely to happen: this event is destined for consignment to the memory hole. And that may be the biggest disgrace of all, not least because it will require the complicity of the military. In the past months have noted with dismay repeated examples of military dissembling and outright lying in order to protect Obama. This is contagious, and corrosive. It is also inimical to the effectiveness of the armed forces. This could be one of Obama’s most malign legacies, and that is saying something.