“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Iranians want trouble again . Give it to them.

Iran has said that British naval personnel seized at gunpoint in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway had confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters.

"The investigation, and confessions that we have, shows they have been arrested in Iranian waters," an armed forces commander told state radio.

The 15 captured British naval personnel were today reported to have been moved to Tehran as Iran raised the stakes in the escalating diplomatic crisis.

Many pundits are wondering who is behind it. Why? Why now? What do they want? Westhawk makes the observation that the incident is manufactured and...
Naturally, it is a risky business to manufacture international incidents to cover up bad news elsewhere. Perhaps a different junior officer with the British boarding party, under slightly different circumstances, might have chosen to resist capture. In that scenario, the day could have ended with a surface naval engagement, an air strike on an Iranian naval base, and lots of blood and oil on the water. Next would come statesmen on all sides pondering what must be done to protect their nations’ prestige.

Senior leaders in Tehran must now be wondering what trouble their president will blunder into next. And whether he or Iran will be able to wriggle out from the next incident without gunfire and explosions. Military escalation, even if blundered into, plays right into the air and naval power dominance of the Americans. From this perspective, President Ahmadinejad may be America’s best friend and Iran’s walking time-bomb.

Blunder or purposeful. It is time to bite on the bait. Punish Iran and use some steel teeth.


  1. Will the response be too little too late again? So far, this has been the M.O.

    Perhaps the Whitehouse and #10 Downing have regenerated their "eunuchs"?

    Well see... I'm not from Missouri - but, SHOW ME!

  2. Iran: British sailers 'confessed' to illegal entry
    March 24, 2007

    TEHRAN, Iran -- The Iranian military questioned 15 detained British soldiers Saturday and said they confessed to illegally entering the country’s territorial waters, as Iran accused Britain of “blatant aggression.”
    Britain has demanded the return of the sailors and denied they had strayed into Iranian waters while searching for smugglers off Iraq’s coast.

    The eight Royal Navy sailors and seven Royal Marines were brought to Tehran for questioning, and a a top military official, Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, said they “confessed to illegal entry into Iran’s waters.”

    “The said personnel are being interrogated and have confessed to aggression into the Islamic Republic of Iran waters,” Afshar was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

    The British sailors had just searched a merchant ship when they and their two inflatable boats were intercepted by Iranian vessels Friday at around 10:30 a.m. near the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, U.S. and British officials said. The Iranian vessels surrounded them and escorted them away at gunpoint.

    The incident came at a time of heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and allegations that Iran is arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq. Still, Britain was treating it as a mistake rather than a provocation.

  3. ''Death to Britain'' and ''Death to America,''

    Virtually all of Iraq's oil is exported through a terminal near the mouth of the channel.

    Some 500 Iranian students gathered on the shore near where the soldiers were captured, shouting ''Death to Britain'' and ''Death to America,'' the Fars news agency reported.

    The sailors, from the frigate HMS Cornwall, are part of a task force that maintains security in Iraqi waters under authority of the U.N. Security Council.

    The Cornwall's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert, said he hoped the detention was a ''simple mistake'' stemming from the unclear border.

    In June 2004, six British marines and two sailors were seized by Iran in the same waterway. They were presented blindfolded on Iranian television and admitted entering Iranian waters illegally, then released unharmed after three days.

    With tensions running high, the United States has bolstered its naval forces in the Persian Gulf in a show of strength directed at Iran. U.S. officials have expressed concern that with so much military hardware in the Gulf, a small incident like Friday's could escalate into a dangerous confrontation.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, warned this week that if Western countries ''treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack.''

  4. Response?
    By whom?
    To what?

    The British Commander says, according to doug's quote, that there was a "simple mistake" and that the entire incident is "stemming from the unclear border."

    So, just perhaps, the Iraninas are right, that the Brits were in Iranian waters, in an area where the border is unclear.

    Like Mexicans in uniform, patroling across the border in the US. Those Brits were just slightly confused about where they were.

    Just because the Iranians take border security seriously, more so than US, does not make them wrong, out of hand.

    Just because the US does not defend it's or Iraq's territorial integrity does not mean others do not, or may not, defend theirs.

    If the Iranians were in International waters, when they took the Brits, why did the Brits give up without a fight?

    Why did the Cornwall's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert, let his men be taken away, if he was in the "right" and not unsure of his men's location near that unclear border.

    Perhaps he is the man that made the "mistake".

    Or did the Cornwall's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert just abandon his men without a fight, because he's a coward in a uniform?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is a commissioned US Navy ship in Pyongyang, North Korea, one of only two American ships captured since the wars in Tripoli. It has been a tourist attraction there since it was captured in 1968, when America was tied down in the Vietnam War. One sailor was killed and 82 were brutally tortured for 11 months before they were marched south over the DMZ on the "Bridge of No Return".

    If America was not bogged down in Vietnam, undoubtedly LBJ would have found this casus belli more convincing than the Gulf of Ton Kin incident, and Li'l Kim wouldn't be in a palace getting his pecker washed and his bouffant blow dried to this day.

    Flash forward to 2007. America is tied down in the Iraq War, and the Iranians capture 15 sailors from a lukewarm US ally who spent the war patrolling the relatively quiet southern theater where no Sunni-Shi'a tussles exist. The same ally who has announced they are cutting loose and leaving America alone to clean up the mess. This ally's navy is so timid they let their own sailors be abducted under the nose of one of Her Majesty's frigates, a ship-of-the-line, yet didn't so much as give the enemy some 20mm to express Her Highness' displeasure.

    What are the odds they can turn to Uncle Sugar to get their boys back? Zilch point squat. Here's the acid test for all their rhetoric about diplomacy being superior to firepower.

  7. T makes a good point in that the US cannot really step in front of the British. It has to come from their lead. The British may be signaling to Iran that they can get off cheap, having made a mistake. It is very strange timing on Iran's part.

  8. The Iranians are speaking to the Brit's Foreign Secretary, twice in the last 24 hours.

    Reconciliation is the byword for the Region.

    The US Congress is pushing Mr Bush to veto the Supplemental funding bill for the War. Mr Bush will be said to not support the troops, if he does.

    Gonzo got caught in another lie to Congress, Mr Rove will soon be called before Congress to testify. If Mr Bush does not allow his testimony, as he vetos the money for the troops, he'll be spinning down the drain.

    Will the US or Brits strike at Iran, doubtful.

    Was it not just a few weeks ago that the supply lines and logistic support for Iraqi terrorists were to be targeted, in Iran?
    Nothing happened.

    Were not the sniper rifles found in Iraq and the chain of custudy of those rifles made clear?

    Are not the special shaped charges, manufactured in Iran and used in Iraq, proof enough of Iranian complicity?

    Not according to Mr Bush, he said that the Iranian Government may not know what it's Armed Forces are doing.
    Same could be said here, with these Brits, a rouge Iranian commander made a decision, when he thought the Brits crossed the line.

    Look for a prisoner exchange, in the next week or so.

  9. You may have seen this on Pajamas media:

    Israeli PR professionals conducted a mock exercise to test their response to a hypothetical missile attack by Syria and Iran.

    So I googled IsraelPR and check out this yahoo group:

    Israel Public Relations is the place for Israeli and Jewish PR professionals to create and share information.
    Only the most professional, respected and experienced commercial and governmental PR and media pros are invited to participate in this room.
    We will formulate strategic image policy and crisis communications for Israel in addition to sharing news releases, soundbytes and media contacts. This forum will also serve as an effective commercial network. Members are allowed to advertise their services twice a month. This professional network has co-moderators and representatives in Israel, Europe and North America. This is a private, non-profit, resource group and discussion forum. This room is not affiliated with any one governmental or non-profit entity.

    Arial Soudak of Galaris, LLC, is owner of, and could be described as a PR professional.

    I'm not sure why such an overt URL would have been created. But it was created on the 13th of September, 2006, a few days after the 9/8, when hostilities between Israel and Lebanon formally ceased.

    The salient lesson then, as now, was the success of the media campaign waged against Israel. Obviously they are adapting. But where are our PR legions?

    Googling Soudak reveals some interesting organizational characteristics, reminiscent of "Armies of Davids," flash mobs, first adopters etc:

    "Street teams:"

    A street team is essentially a group of volunteers, usually your own die-hard fans who want to support you and see you rise to the very top. They are motivated to help you sell CDs, increase your fanbase and enhance your present stature as an artist. In a nutshell, they are there to help move you up a few rungs on that success ladder without invoicing you for the hours they put in! Implementing a street team is therefore something you HAVE to capitalize on if you want to utilize every promotional opportunity and increase your visibility as an artist.

  10. More lies and deception from those in uniform. Officers this time, not just lowly enlisted men.
    Just think, if Sp4 Tillman had not been a national figure, but just another grunt. We'd never would have known the lack of Honor these officers displayed by their actions, or lack there of.

    All so the Army would not be embarassed, by the truth.

    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) --
    Nine officers, including up to four generals, should be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, a Pentagon investigation will recommend.

    Senior defense officials said Friday the Defense Department inspector general will cite a range of errors and inappropriate conduct as the military probed the former football star's death on the battlefront in 2004, said one defense official.
    Dozens of soldiers, those immediately around Tillman at the scene of the shooting, his immediate superiors and high-ranking officers at a command post nearby knew within minutes or hours that his death was fratricide.

    Even so, the Army persisted in telling Tillman's family he was killed in a conventional ambush, including at his nationally televised memorial service 11 days later. It was five weeks before his family was told the truth, a delay the Army has blamed on procedural mistakes.

    The latest investigation has focused on how high up the chain of command it was known that Tillman's death was caused by his own comrades. Officers from the rank of colonel and up will be blamed in the report, according to one officer who has been informed of the findings.

    According to the officials, the report will not make charges or suggest punishments, but it will recommend the Army look at holding the nine officers accountable. ..."

  11. I think the odds are pretty good that the Brits were caught "off base."

    Not according to the United States Naval Forces Central Command (US Fifth Fleet) [who] issued the following statement regarding the incident:

    "At approximately 10:30 a.m. Iraqi time March 23, 15 British naval personnel, engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 and the government of Iraq, were seized by Iranian naval vessels.

    It's just another example of the well known Shia practice of taking hostages to be used as bargaining chips for the return of captured jihadis

    The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

    In addition, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards' operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil.

    According to the official, Iran was worried that its detained people would leak sensitive intelligence information.

    Iran's semi-official news agency, Fars, reported that the 15 Britons have been transferred to the capital Teheran "to explain their aggressive action." There was no immediate official confirmation of the move.

    No blunders here. Not by the Brits nor by the Iranians. Simply a premeditated grab authorized by high ranking officers in the Iranian Armed Forces.

  12. That looks like Ahmadinejad on the left there. In the picture.

  13. So if we end up playing the 'people swap' game, bfd. I would imagine we've already got alot of useful information out of these guys that we've got.

    But like Rat, says. Why in the hell did the British just let Quds walk in and take these guys away? That's a real head scratcher.

    You would think our guys would've smelled this coming.

  14. 2164th wrote:

    "Blunder or purposeful. It is time to bite on the bait. Punish Iran and use some steel teeth. "

    It seems cooler heads are prevailing at the moment. Biting the bait would most probably lead to more escalation and do you think the current political climate in the States would support war with Iran at this stage? Is the military and population ready for such a major task? I don't think so.

    rufus, I think the Brits were most probably taken in "disputed territory".

    On a side note: the recent Russian/Iranian dustup over payment and delivery of enriched uranium underscores Irans desire to not have the fuel cycle held hostage to foreign whims.

  15. Sam wrote:

    "But like Rat, says. Why in the hell did the British just let Quds walk in and take these guys away? That's a real head scratcher."


  16. Well, stoutfellow, the veracity of what the US Command says is now suspect.

    An April 23, 2004, Army press release stated that Tillman died "when his patrol vehicle came under attack." According to a December 5, 2004, Washington Post article, records "show that his superiors exaggerated his actions and invented details as they burnished his legend in public, at the same time suppressing details that might tarnish Tillman's commanders."

    Now if you hit the link, you'll see that the press release is no longer available to view.

    The Military has besmerched their credibility, by propagating lies and deception, when the truth is embarassing to the Command.

    They no longer recieve the "benefit of the doubt", but must prove themselve correct.

    Conflicting testimony. In his Nov. 14, 2004, interrogation, the first investigator expressed frustration with “watching some of these guys getting off, what I thought … was a lesser of a punishment than what they should’ve received. And I will tell you, over a period of time … the stories have changed. They have changed to, I think, help some individuals.”

    The investigator testified that after he submitted his report on May 3, higher-ranking officers permitted soldiers to change key details of their testimony in order to prevent any individual from being singled out for punishment.

    “They had the entire chain of command (inaudible) that were involved, the [deleted], all sticking up for [deleted] … And the reason the [deleted] called me in … because the [deleted] … changed their story in how things occurred and the timing and the distance in an attempt to stick up for their counterpart, implied, insinuated that the report wasn’t as accurate as I submitted it …” the first investigator testified.

    In another section of his testimony, he said witnesses changed details regarding “the distance, the time, the location and the positioning” in Tillman’s killing.

    Another disputed detail was whether the soldiers were firing while speeding down the canyon or whether they stopped, got out and continued shooting. In testimony in the third investigation, the soldiers said they did not stop. However, the medical examiner’s report said Tillman was killed by three bullets closely spaced in his forehead — a pattern that would have been unlikely if the shooter were moving fast. Spc. Russell Baer, a soldier pinned down by gunfire on the hillside near Tillman, said in an interview with The Chronicle that at least two soldiers had gotten out of the humvee to fire uphill. One other soldier confirmed this account to a Tillman family member.

    A reputation of integrity, once lost, is hard to recover.

  17. In case there is any doubt, I added another photo at the bottom of the post. Make your comparisons.

  18. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday to push for a "yes" vote, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisalo Kumalo said he was satisfied with some of the changes in the revised resolution, even though it rejected key proposals from his country, including a 90-day suspension of all sanctions against Iran.

    Indonesia and Qatar wanted the resolution to call for the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. But including such an appeal could have implications for Israel, a U.S. ally widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, though it has never officially acknowledged it.

    In a compromise, the revised draft refers to a past resolution from the International Atomic Energy Agency calling for the need for the region to be free of such weapons.

    Sanctions on Iran

  19. My head is cool. I still would slam them hard on this. Not doing so will only tempt them further.

  20. This incident is not without precedent and after 3 days the previous one was resolved. "Slamming them hard" would most likely elict a response in kind from them leading to...

    I repeat, do you think it advisable to go to war with Iran at this stage, and, in particular, over this incident? If we want to go to war plenty of pretexts will be available. War is not a good choice IMHO.

  21. I don't know. I think it's more complicated than that. Iran's going to want these guys we've got. That drags us in.

  22. re: Tillman

    Within days of his death, there were credible reports that the cause of death was friendly fire.

    What the current investigation reveals remains to be seen. But, DR, rumor is not fact. And weren’t you, just last evening, toting the jurisprudential rule of presumptive innocence? What, DR, is your inner hypocrite showing?

  23. Churchill once said of Germany that he wanted to see "the rubble bounce!" So let it be for Iran and we won't see British sailors and marines accosted in this manner again. The free world is in desperate need of warriors!

  24. rufus,

    Some of the Iranians we have are high value.

    It is doubtful that the captured Brits are high value in the same sense.

    Let the Brits make whatever deal they please, so long as the US doesn't bargain away its Iranian assets in hand.

  25. A reputation of integrity, once lost, is hard to recover.

    I take the commander at his word, rat. Also tracking the position of a frigate in the gulf would be much easier than tracking the location of a Humvee in the Afghan mountains.

    Deuce, they need slamming, but as you posted above, the ball is in the Brit's court, not ours. We need a direct attack on a US Flagged ship before attacking Iranian naval assets as in Operation Praying Mantis , except this time destroy them all.

  26. "We were informed by Iraqi fishermen after they had returned from sea that there were British gunboats in an area that is out of Iraqi control," Brig. Gen. Hakim Jassim told AP Television News in the southern city of Basra.

    "We don't know why they were there," he said.

    The news agency Fars said navigational equipment on the seized British boats "show that they (sailors) were aware that they were operating in Iranian waters and Iranian border guards fulfilled their responsibility."

    Illegal Entry

  27. re: Were not the sniper rifles found in Iraq and the chain of custudy of those rifles made clear?


  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. "The British troops who are in Iran's hands knew perfectly well that they were in Iranian territorial waters. Their navigation equipment proves it," said the official, whom the news agency did not name.

    "Besides the explanations of the British sailors, data from the computerised navigation equipment on board the vessels seized shows that they knowingly entered Iranian waters and stayed there.

    "Our border guards did their duty," he said, adding that the British navy should "pay more attention to its navigation equipment."

    Entered Iran Illegally

  30. Not at all, allen, I've not sent anyone to jail, in irons, before they are even charged, like the Marines do to their own.

    Just relating the current news, as it relates to those in uniform.

    That reputations are besmirched, even when the accused are found "not guilty" of criminal conduct is a reality.

    In the immortal words of Ray Donovan, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Labor who was acquitted of corruption charges in a court of law after a prolonged trial by media, "Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

    Even the appearence of impropriety can damage an institution, especially if it appears to be part of the culture of that institution.

    Four Generals and five others are reccomended to be held to account for their deceptions or lack of concern about the deceptions being dispersed by subordinates.

    Whether or not these actions were criminal is unimportant, whether these officers are convicted of a crime even less important.

    That there is a perception of deceit, that is all important in the propaganda wars the Administration does so poorly at.

  31. This should cheer those having issues with uniformed authority figures:
    A police officer was knocked off his bike by protestors. Apparently, he had not proven himself worthy of respect.

    This should cheer those having issues with US foreign policy:
    A man publicly defecated on the American flag.

    Patriots one and all.

    Liberals Discover a New Protest Gimmick... It's the Sh*t!


  32. Policing authorities detain and RESTRAIN the accused daily. That includes Marines.

    "Perceptions of deceit" often have their origins with those who plant perceptions of deceit.

  33. AZ is one seriously fucked up dude.

    I don't know if he was an abused child, is a Democrat running under a false flag, or just a mouthy guy who hates the US now but after reading his corrosive remarks for a number of years one thing is clear.
    He has a very personal vendetta against either this particular President or the USA.
    But he piles it high and deep which all blogs need for growth.

  34. If the Officer was assualted, folks should be arrested, charged and tried.

    The Supremes say dumpin' is okay, as a part of free speach, protected by the Constitution, which those in Federal uniform are sworn to protect and defend.

    The efforts to change this interpretation of the Constitution consistently fail to pass the Congress.

    The People have spoken through their elected representitves.

    If that offends, move to France.

  35. habu, you're back.
    But still no attacks on Natanz, Iran.

    Your word and integrity is as good as the Generals in question.

    What part of the quoting Mr Bush or his Generals or troops do you object to?

    Personally his remarks at the State Union '02 are my favorite, I find no objection to them at all.
    Great rhetoric, if we followed it, Iran would be aflame, but alas, it isn't.

    Who is responsible for those shortfalls. Perhaps it's me or Dan Rather. Maybe we can lay the responsibility on Sp4 Tillman's grave.

  36. This is what kills me with the Iranians:

    "NEW YORK: Crude prices crossed $62 a barrel Friday to a three-month high, following the incident in the Middle East in which Iran captured 15 British Royal Navy personnel, triggering the prospect of increased tensions in the region.

    U.S. crude gained 59 cents to reach $62.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, adding to the $2 gain registered on Thursday.

    The price rise was also the result of reduced U.S. gasoline supplies just ahead of the summer demand. Gasoline future touched $2 a gallon Friday, which is the highest since 21 August 2006."

  37. Suicide bombers struck across Iraq on Saturday in a sharp upsurge in violence that killed more than 60 people, many of them policemen.


    Salam al-Zobaie, the Sunni deputy prime minister, was said to be in a good condition on Saturday after being operated on after an attempted assassination attempt by a suicide bomber at a prayer hall in his compound on Friday.


    Iraq's government stayed silent on a diplomatic row between Britain and Iran over the seizure on Friday by Iranian forces of 15 British marines and sailors in the Shatt al-Arab waterway that forms part of the southern border between Iran and Iraq.

    Bombers Strike in Iraq

  38. Iraq's government stayed silent on a diplomatic row between Britain and Iran

    Wonder why the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution Iraq wouldn't have their spokesmen in the Government make a statement of support for their allies?

    Viva Success in Iraq!
    Viva Basra!

  39. Guess they didn't want to piss off the Brits, aye?

  40. Chavez is pushing ahead with a nationalization of Venezuela's oil industry, stripping major U.S. companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. , ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp. of their majority stakes in heavy crude projects.

    While sidelining such majors, Chavez is seeking to do more business with China, Russia and Iran, part of forming what he describes as a multipolar alliance against the United States.

    He said the three proposed refineries in China would process 800,000 bpd of Venezuelan crude. The proposed new tanker fleet would not just run China-Venezuela routes but also operate in the Caribbean and take shipments to Africa, Chavez said.

    Oil Deals

  41. Braceup: So let it be for Iran and we won't see British sailors and marines accosted in this manner again. The free world is in desperate need of warriors!

    Much of the former free world has abdicated their status as warriors, which makes them easy pickings for barbarian states. But they remain free enough to insult America, Australian, Poland, and other states willing to stand up and fight.

  42. Tillman's folks needed a pile of bullshit at the funeral?
    ...then there's his brother.

  43. Re: Tillman

    Why not wait for the publication of the report. There will be ample time for hanging, AFTER due process. Just for argument’s sake, assume the possibility of innocence for some of the alleged culprits. That’s not much fun for those who really like to discredit the United States but, hey, it is the American way.

    Oh, and no brain trust has yet considered that a negative report, naming generals and other officers, would disprove the widely held belief that the Pentagon protects its own.