Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Prisoner “ordeal”? A study in contrasts

With the hyperbole in both the British and US media about the capture of 14 British servicemen and one servicewoman, some reminders may well be timely about the disputed nature (between Iran and Iraq) of these waters; about the contrast in prisoner treatment; and about past (and likely current) Coalition provocations in Iran.

The first serves to undermine British claims to conclusivity in their insistence their forces were in Iraqi waters, the second and third highlight the hypocrisy and lack of credibility the UK and US governments have in mounting any sort of legitimate case for war against Iran.

Serving as a model of diplomatic restraint for both the US and the UK, let us first recall Iran’s conduct in the 1988 tragedy when US forces shot down an unarmed civilian Iranian Airbus, Iran Air Flight 655, on July 3 1988 — killing all 290 Iranian men, women and children on board. After initially claiming it was in self-defence, the Reagan administration (thanks Natural Media) shushed it up — just how many of us remember the name USS Vincennes?

The US government paid reparations to Iran, eventually, but never apologized.

The current “crisis” revolving around the capture of the 15 Brits is being described as an “ordeal” by British MSM and a “disgusting” parade by Prime Monster Blair, yet the soldiers own relatives apparently beg to differ:

Adam Sperry’s uncle, Ray Cooper, 49, spoke of his family’s relief at seeing him alive and apparently well.

Mr Cooper said: “It’s all very well saying it’s wrong to parade them, but when it’s your family it’s a good feeling.

In stark contrast to many international prisoners captured in the US and UK, the British servicemen and woman are at least shown to be OK, giving some comfort to their families. There is no evidence of ill-treatment.

 Paraded on TV again, their ordeal goes onguantanamo.jpg

Left: Junior sailor Nathan Summers, Ldg Seaman Faye Turney and Marine Adam Sperry appearing on Iranian TV

Right: Prisoners at Guantanamo — unidentified


The British government have recently called the release of a letter from Leading Seaman Faye Turney urging Britain to withdraw its forces from Iraq as “cruel and callous“.

Cruel and callous, Mr Blair? Could it be remotely in the same league as Coalition abuses? Oh, the outrage and indecency of being asked to don a headscarf (respecting the customs of the country), rather than a Gitmo orange jumpsuit and shackles!

And what is the Iranian government asking for? Why, an apology and the right to be left in peace. How very uncivilised. It is heartening to see that the rest of the world isn’t buying the over the top claims of the Blair government. See also Kurt Nimmo’s piece on how the “hostage” drama pales in comparison to MI6 and CIA crimes against Iran, (ADE 28 March 2007)

Certainly, the government, families and media have every right to be concerned and every diplomatic effort should be made to secure their release. But it is hardly on a par with how the coalition has treated prisoners, nor does it remotely constitute a casus belli.

Meanwhile, according to recent reports we read from Russian intelligence, it is Iran that is in danger with alarming claims that U.S. forces have nearly completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran in early April.

Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy. IAEA Director General and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mohamad El Baradei has reiterated Iranian government assurances in a recent television interview that Iran is not considered a nuclear threat to the world.

And some sanity and wisdom from American group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). In a memorandum issued yesterday entitled Brinksmanship in Uncharted Waters, they issue a strong caveat against launching a war against Iran. The whole memo is worth reading in full; here is a brief excerpt:

Unless one’s basic intention is to provoke a hostile action to which the US and UK could “retaliate,” getting involved in a tit-for-tat contest with the Iranians is a foolish and reckless game, for it may not prove possible to avoid escalation and loss of control. And we seem to be well on our way there. If one calls Iran “evil,” arrests its diplomats, accuses it of promoting terrorism and unlawful capture, one can be certain that the Iranians will retaliate and raise the stakes in the process.

12 comments on “Prisoner “ordeal”? A study in contrasts

  1. Pingback: Monte Asbury’s Blog Brits call the kettle black «

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  3. naj
    3 April, 2007

    I guess Mr Blair’s calculations didn’t add up!
    There is a limit to how stupid they assume the world to be! Damn colonizers!

  4. Jack
    4 April, 2007


    I don’t advocate torture, and a lot of times these things are a bit complicated for me, but are we looking at apples and oranges here? Are some British soldiers patrolling disputed waters the same as soldiers taken on a battlefield or individual terrorists? I’m not correcting you here–I just wondered if there were a difference in the circumstances (war-time vs. peace-time–no declared war with Iran vs. a declared war with Iraq and terrorists, etc.)

    Also, I don’t know if we can assume “humaneness” in this circumstance, so much as politics. Wouldn’t Iran face quite a problem if they did anything to these soldiers? Are we assuming that Iran wouldn’t do anything to these soldiers, etc. I think that we would be naive to assume that Iran would do any different than any other nation in regards to these prisoners to their advantage. Keep in mind, Iran still has a pretty lousy human rights record–even though the current trend is to romanticize them.


  5. homeyra
    4 April, 2007

    The loosy human right record of Iran, or elsewhere… has never been a criteria for the relations/exchanges/ financial helps or huge financial help of the West.
    There is the treatment of a terrorist, and the treatment of the might be a terrorist, or the looks like a terrorist.
    Mixing apples and oranges seems the highlights of foreign policies these days!

  6. Servant
    4 April, 2007

    Personally, I prefer mixing guacamole with lemon if one must mix ones fruits. Makes a delicious sauce with fried Wogs.

  7. peoplesgeography
    4 April, 2007

    tsk tsk :)
    — your favourite wog

    Hi Jack,

    I’m worried that a “war” is all but declared against Iran. The belligerent actions on the part of the US-UK are many, including covert operations and psy-ops, holding Iranian diplomats prisoner (they have disappeared off the radar), economic sanctions, numerous airspace and other violations and provocations, and inappropriate military presence (how would the UK or US feel if Iranian or Iraqi troops were “just patrolling” disputed waters in North America—would that not be a gross and unacceptable violation of sovereignty? This water/ territorial dispute is between Iran and Iraq, the UK has no right at all to be there.

    There is no declared war with Iraq in the traditional sense, a war on Iraq maybe, and the cover of war and the nomenclature of war masks this disconnect with reality in any case, a reality that is an illegal, immoral and unwarranted invasion of a sovereign nation and the wholesale theft of its natural resources.

    Yes, I agree that Iran’s regime is not entirely virtuous when it comes to human rights, just as the US, UK, Israel and Australia are not either, but this should be responded to appropriately (steady evolution of a culture, as you previously wisely suggested) rather than somehow giving any hegemon the pretext to invade or provoke.

    – Ann
    * The Secret War Against Iran, ABC News (3 April)
    * Bush, Iran & Selective Outrage, Consortium News (2 April)

  8. Servant
    4 April, 2007

    Well said, PPG.

    In your case a red sauce would work well too, but the subject was fruits. I suppose tomatoes are technically a fruit but they don’t go well with apples and oranges IMHO. You’ll have to marinate a bit longer before we put you on the barbie. You sound a bit tough!

    mmmmmmmm wog!

    my apologies to messr. swift

  9. peoplesgeography
    4 April, 2007

    Sending more coded messages, that’ll keep the State Dept on their toes. ;)

  10. Jack
    5 April, 2007

    Its all very complicated for me, Ann. I know the U.N. has imposed sanctions on Iran as well as the countries you mentioned. I just find it a little difficult to compare the situation with the British soldiers with what happened in Abu Ghraib during a war.

    I will say, that if nothing was learned in Iraq it should be caution on the United States and Britains part.

    Btw, what are your thoughts of Iran and its intent to enrich uranium. Do you think that it is just for energy or do you believe they want nuclear weapons? Do you agree with the U.N. sanctions?

    Take care,


  11. peoplesgeography
    5 April, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    Yes, the cover of war has been used as an excuse for many nefarious deeds, but in any civilised society it does not and should not mean the suspension of human rights. There are international laws and norms governing conduct in war. Here is a link to the Geneva Conventions which protect civilians. Combatants too have rights. Does war mean that we give up all norms of civilised conduct? Is that not a negation and abrogation of all that we claim to fight for?

    With regard to Iran, yes I do support Iran’s right to nuclear energy (countries such as France currently source over 60% of their energy from nuclear sources). Iran sees the double standards and denial of legitimate development of its country — does it not have a right to this?

    My position on nukes is that I am decidedly not in support of their continued development (let alone use!) but that there are no sufficient grounds for other powers wishing to deny Iran nuclear weapons. The development of a “nuclear club” after the American and Russian nuclear arms race, i.e. China, India, Pakistan, North Korea etc shows that they provide some leverage against aggression by the world’s sole hyperpower.

    I disagree with the imposition of sanctions here and with the unequal and undemocratic composition of the UN Security Council (USA, Russia, China, UK, France). I think the UNSC is anachronistic and in need of overdue reform, as do many others! The UN system, which I support, is open to abuse; I think the way forward is to strengthen it so as to represent the international community rather than simply the sectional interests of the current US administration.

    Your thoughts?

    – Ann

  12. Jack
    5 April, 2007

    Right in line with yours, Ann!

    Absolutely so! :)


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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"