Gerry Baker was on Hugh Hewitt last night, which was a great comfort. More on that later.
So, the Brits are letting this backfire on the Iranians and let world public opinion come around to the idea that maybe the US isn’t actually the biggest danger to peace on earth. Key to this is the sympathy easily afforded to a young woman with three young children, and generally acting very sensible and non-crazy and righteous about the whole thing. Fine.
Except both the Times and the Telegraph have exactly one opinion piece out of three each on the subject, and no columnists. They and the Beeb have items on their front pages about Faye Turney’s doubtful fate (rescinding on their promise to release her), but you’d think that a little more indignation and sympathy-stoking might be a good idea? In the absence of just about anything else…?
Iran’s awareness that its reputation is at stake was illustrated in the television pictures of the captives that it finally allowed to be aired yesterday. When eight British servicemen were taken in a not dissimilar situation in 2004 they were paraded, blindfold, marching through the desert in a knowingly provocative fashion before they were handed over soon after. The images offered this time were more conciliatory in their character. They were obviously intended to make Iran’s claims that its captives were “unharmed” and being “treated well” seem credible. The misuse of Ms Turney, nonetheless, was intensely cynical and will prompt condemnation well beyond this country. Her letter and television interview were obviously not voluntary in their nature and they constitute a somewhat desperate attempt to shore up Tehran’s standing.
…The belated robustness exhibited by ministers in the past two days may have convinced those who hold sway in Tehran that a prolonged hostage crisis would do more damage to Iran than it would inflict on Britain. If that sentiment becomes dominant, then Iran will almost certainly cut its losses from this episode. It has taken a stronger British stance to secure progress so far. That approach must not slacken.
Faced with these complexities, and the weakness of its position in dealing with an action redolent of a rogue state, the Government has sensibly chosen an incremental approach. The prompt release of the hostages has been demanded and, in the meantime, consular access to them sought. Margaret Beckett has cut short a visit to Turkey, which might act as an intermediary, and talked by phone to her Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki. …
As in 2004, it is unclear what the Iranians hope to gain by their latest outrage. It will not persuade the Security Council to remove the sanctions imposed on Teheran last Saturday for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. Given Washington’s attitude towards hostage-taking, it will not secure the release of six Iranian officials detained by the Americans in January in the Iraqi city of Erbil. All it does is isolate Iran further.
Well, the audio is up, but no transcript, so I’ll have to paraphrase Gerry.
(I finally realized who his voice reminds me of, btw: Michael Kitchen. Only less Michael Kitcheny.)
Basically, he thought the Newt idea to start bombing them is a ridiculous idea, that they don’t want to start a war over 15 sailors and neither does the US which is the only power that could, but that “making idle threats like that is only going to make us worse off than we are now.” …Which would be true were they idle. But anyway. He thinks that playing the sympathy card is a way to embarrass them into letting them go, and proving that we’re not the bad guys, and that bombing them into oblivion is what they want us to do, which is, frankly, rather easy to agree with.
Then Hugh asks him how this isn’t like the 30′s, which sets him off on a rather funny rant (for a really good time, bring this subject up with a Russian) about how Americans think the British in the thirties were a bunch of silly appeasers that needed the Americans to ride in and save the day, when actually the biggest appeasers of the Nazis were the Republican isolationists, and what they were trying to do in the 1930s was try to get the support of people like the United States by demonstrating to them that Germany were the aggressors. Which, though may be perfectly true, ended up with the deaths of 71 million people because they wanted “international consensus”. Which isn’t something Hugh brought up.
Speaking of which, this news over at Power Line nicely illustrates the perfect flip of the political parties in the past 70 years. In an eerily parallel way.
So, taking that advice to maintain moral authority in seeking a successful peaceful resolution to the world’s conflicts, we have on the one hand a tale from Israel:
Barbara Nicolosi’s where I was roughly this time of year last year.
The minarets screaming everywhere discordantly in Jerusalem are way more than Moslem acts of loving devotion to God. They are clearly provocation in a city which is already tense as the center of focus for several major religions. It is the Muslim version of “We’re here and we’re queer!”
A little more:
Looking over the Kidron valley to the Old City, at night, one is immediately struck by the “what’s wrong with this pictureness” of the Muslim towers with their garrish neon green lights scattered all over the landscape. We’ve been up and down Israel this week, and nowhere have I seen as many of these things as in the Old City. Even in Jericho, which is entirely Muslim, we only saw one minaret. And we never heard the screaming on loud speakers there.
I said to Knesset guy, “It isn’t complicated at all. Why should one group be allowed to dominate the city with their noise?”He replied, “You cannot sit the Muslims down and deliberate with them. They only know how to dominate. They don’t compromise. We have elected to give in to them, over and over, to appease them, because there is no other way.”
I continued, “If they won’t be reasonable, then why don’t you tell them, “Look, if you don’t turn off the electronic screaming, then we are going to mike up all the Jewish folks who are praying by the wailing wall. And we are going to mike up every Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic and Christian service in the whole city and play all their services loudly around the clock. Every damn prayer that goes up from Jerusalem will be broadcast in one devout sonic boom.”
And he said, “Well, if we did that, we would be just as bad as them.”
Me again, “So, what do you do?”
Him: “We back down…and I suppose we hope eventually something will happen to change the dynamic.”
Ah, the geopolitics of audacious hope. Good luck with that.
And on the other:
Not what I would expect to read in the National Catholic Reporter. John Allen, reporting from Nigeria:
While it’s true that a rough peace seems to be holding today, and that dialogues between Muslims and Christians are growing, many locals say that dialogue may never have begun if Nigerian Christians hadn’t learned to stand up for themselves. That is, they believe the Muslims might never have come to the table if they hadn’t been forced to do so by a growing Christian capacity to answer Muslim-initiated violence blow-for-blow.
It’s a position endorsed almost unanimously by our Nigerian Catholic hosts, who have repeatedly told me this week that Christians in the country “aren’t folding our hands anymore.” Much to my surprise, even Imam Isah told me that in the beginning, Christians were seen as largely defenseless, and thus not taken seriously by some Muslims.
The frightening implication seems to be that retaliatory violence on the Christian side may have been necessary to balance the scales.
“Only when we started reacting did the Muslims see a need for dialogue,” said Dogo, the general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the north. “They saw our people have resolve, and that’s when the decision was made to form a consultative forum of religious leaders.”
So, on the one hand they seem to want us to blow them up. On the other, we’re screwed anyway.