Whither Britain?

Danny Lemieux sent me the link for the ultimate editorial nailing precisely how awful British conduct was vis a vis Iran from start to finish in the last two weeks:

Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves

Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Pathetic objects of international ridicule, perhaps, but never slaves.

Not yet, anyway.

“England expects that every man will do his duty,” said Admiral Lord Nelson off Cape Trafalgar in October 1805.

He lost his life in the ensuing battle with the combined fleets of France and Spain – but his stunning victory set Napoleon on the road to ruin and established Nelson indisputably as the greatest of his nation’s numberless naval heroes.

We strain to imagine what the old sea dog would have made of that sorry gaggle of British sailors and Marines – waving and smiling, decked out in cheesy duds and clutching swagbags stuffed with goodies from the mullahs: books, candies, pistachio nuts and even a bud vase or two.

How sweet.

Which is probably the best that can be said of their 13 days in Iranian custody. If there has ever in history been a faster, more humiliating submission to Stockholm Syndrome, we’re unaware of it.

No doubt, being plucked out of one’s rubber raft at gunpoint and passed into an Iranian captivity of uncertain duration was a harrowing experience.

But aren’t British service personnel trained for this sort of thing?

Well, actually, that’s a secret.

“We’re not releasing the details of the training any of the services go through under those conditions,” said a Defense Ministry spokesman, “because if we do that, then it would make it easier to interrogate them.”

Easier than what, we wonder.

There’s more, but you get the point. I particularly like the description of the sailors at the moment of my release — looking for all the world as if they’d just won the Eurovision song contest — because it puts into words the very strong feeling of disgust I had when I saw those images.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Mike Devx

    To be critical of the behavior of these British soldiers because of their Britishness is to miss the point, I think. I wonder how that gaggle of undisciplined idiots who pranked their way through their days (and nights) at Abu Bhraib would have behaved in this situation? Quite likely they would have behaved in a similarly disgraceful manner.

    Either I have bought into the propaganda of the military stiff upper lip, of death before dishonor, of fake stories of resistance to actions of real torture… or the behavior of these soldiers was shameful. Not in isolation, but merely as the latest example of how military behavior and doctrine have sunk to lows among all of our Western military people.

    There used to be an awareness among soldiers that they represented the entire military. In this day of “An Army Of One”, it seems that there is more and more a collapse of discipline and a collapse of leadership. I’ve been bemoaning our weak, vacilliating, and dangerously pacific rules of engagement in Iraq. I believe such ROE doomed these soldiers to capture. I believe a battlefield culture was established by such weak ROE is what caused these soldiers to behave so disgracefully.

    But aren’t they just a reflection of the weak, pampered society from whence they sprang? (And again, I’m not talking about the British – I’m talking about the West.) Honor and duty and patriotism and courage still exist, but now only in pockets, as the exceptions to the culture rather than the culture. I don’t know whether there is steel beneath all this pampered simpering. I fear we will be sorely tested soon, and we will find out if there be steel.