What Would Ahmadinejad Do?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


A busy mid-week has kept me from rapid and relevent posts, but I have been thinking a lot about Iran, the British sailors and Marines, and exactly what Ahmedinejad got out of this whole ordeal. Why would he do this? Why would he essentially kidnap British troops who were, according to GPS systems, well within Iraqi waters?

Clearly, Ahmedinejad is the head of an insane regime who is potentially significantly more dangerous and threatening to Mid-East peace than, say, Syria. But what he did was win a "moral" victory (for lack of a better way to put it) by broadcasting video of the captives, in Iran, eating, drinking, laughing, smiling. Consider the picture right at the top of this article. Certainly nothing at all like this picture. A strong message indeed.

Take a listen to this report from NPR's Morning Edition this morning. They crew came off of a jet from Iran wearing fresh uniforms and bearing gifts, like pistacchios, from the Iranians. Several of the crew, including the woman, Turney, were recorded upon landing saying that they were treated with dignity and repsect, and never once felt as though they were in danger. Again, it draws a distinct contrast between Iran's treatment of prisoners (despite is "barbaric" moniker) and the United States' treatment of the same.

Now, I do see that our detainment of individuals arises from those whom we are actually fighting in an armed conflict with: Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither we nor the British have such an armed conflict with Iran. That said, most certainly did Ahmadinejad seize an opportunity to display such a massive disparity in conduct. It is most likely dishonest as its core; I believe him to be a demagogue of the sort that Hugo Chavez is, who will create opportunities to draw contrasts, however contrived. I believe that this was certianly contrived by a great Showman.

But in that contrivance lies a kernal of truth. If nothing else, it should serve to remind us of just how shitty of a job we're doing in Guantanamo Bay. That is partly Ahmadinejad's mission, at least as far as I can read his mind. I think he was trying to go a few steps further: look at how great we treat people who do us wrong, look at how generously we pardon them, look at how we're not positioning ourselves for an armed conflict. Who knows...what if we did enter in an armed conflict with Iran. Would they treat prisoners the same still? Would they still give them pressed suits and food? I doubt it pretty strongly.

In the end, this was Showmanship, not statesmanship. But Ahmadinejad did accomplish something significant: he held Britain's balls for just a mere moment, and made a giant take a pause. It said that while the UK and the US are stretched ever so thin, that one little motion from one little man in Iran could cause untold havoc; "come and get me....psyche. Here's your troops back. Ready to negotiate with me yet on better terms?" But how else was he going to be able to negotiate from a position of power? He is not generous, nor especially giving. But I think he found a way to get a seat at the table more effectively than this lunatic ever could on his best day.

The Brits say that this has "opened new lines of communication" with Tehran. And accordingly, the nuclear talks have re-opened. The ball is in our court now. What will we do?

6 comments:

Mike 6:16 PM  

Nicely-put, Smitty.

He is a demogogue and this was pure grandstanding. But, as you say, we're the ones locking up "enemy combatants" like animals at Gitmo, while they let a woman smoke a cigarette on camera, then swend her home unharmed.

Yet we're the good guys, huh? Oh boy.

steves 7:16 PM  

So, I had this really long post and it was erased when I tried to submit it. You'll get the abridged version and just assume that my other one was insightful and interesting.

Ahmadinejad, like Rosie O'Dumbass, is batshit crazy. I mention Rosie, because her theory is that the UK and the US concocted this scheme to provoke a war. Maybe he is still mad about 300 making fun of ancient Persians and figured that the current UK is not the UK of 1941 and wouldn't retaliate.

Guantanamo is a problem. IMO, mostly because of a total lack of any semblence of due process. I think that most of the prisoners deserve an open trial.

As for the "Iranian treatment," I thought it was creepy. Despite the cigarettes, parting gifts, and confessions, it just seemed odd. It vaguely reminded me of when Saddam posed with all those kids prior to the Gulf War.

Iran may be able to high ground in this instance, but that does not negate their long history of torture, warrantless arrests, imprisoning people without a trial, and executing children.

Smitty 9:23 PM  

As for the "Iranian treatment," I thought it was creepy. Despite the cigarettes, parting gifts, and confessions, it just seemed odd.

I agree. It was creepy in that "hey kid...want some candy?" sort of way. Again, I think it was contrived (this whole thing) so the inordinate amount of gifts is sort of a dead giveaway for this being somewhat staged.

Iran may be able to high ground in this instance, but that does not negate their long history of torture, warrantless arrests, imprisoning people without a trial, and executing children

No. Not at all. This is all a facade. He is still the crazy leader of an oppressive, extremist regime.

Mike 6:34 AM  

Yes, it was creepy. No doubt (you'll not find me talking up A-Jhad, believe me).

But I'm disturbed that the US's horrible policies allow a jerk like him to even try to hold the moral high-ground. Such a pose should be DOA, but because of Administration policies, he passes the giggle test.

Smitty 8:35 AM  

But I'm disturbed that the US's horrible policies allow a jerk like him to even try to hold the moral high-ground. Such a pose should be DOA, but because of Administration policies, he passes the giggle test.

Oh, I see. Blame America First, eh Mike?

Just kidding.

You're absolutely right, Mike. You hit the nail on the head about what's really sad about this whole situation.

steves 1:57 PM  

In the real world, there is nobody that I would consider to be perfectly clean. I am not excusing US policy, but if you are waiting for goodness and fairness foreign policy, I have some oceanfron property to sell you in Arizona...dirt cheap.

I just don't see how we can be any kind of world player with this kind of attitude. We need to be more pragmatic.

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