Ten U.S. Sailors Captured and Humiliated by Iran

By | January 14, 2016 | 0 Comments



U.S. Navy personnel in humiliating poses

Female sailor forced to wear hijab

Iran says seizure of boats is lesson to “troublemakers” in U.S. Congress.
News report

Iran warns missiles are locked onto U.S. aircraft carrier.
News report

Iranian video shows captured U.S. sailor apologizing for “our mistake,” which he does not specify.
News report

Nevertheless, Vice President Biden claims no apology was asked for or given.
News report

Economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted by Jan. 18, as Iran “self-inspects” its main nuclear site.
News report

We are suffering from Leadership Deficit Disorder.
Oliver North, Lt. Col., USMC (ret.)

The New York Times hailed the release of the 10 captured U.S. Navy personnel as a sign of “warmer relations” between America and Iran. But if capturing and humiliating our people is a sign of “warmer relations,” what would “colder relations” look like? This is akin to saying that couples counseling has been successful, because the man now beats his wife less severely. Yes, we are relieved to have our 10 sailors back. But this raises questions:

● Did the two boats really stray into Iranian territorial waters, or were they captured in international waters, and President Obama’s “nuclear deal” might be jeopardized if we protested too vigorously?

● Even if the boats did stray, why could not Iranian vessels simply have warned them to turn away, rather than capturing them?

● Even if the sailors were captured, was it necessary to video them in humiliating poses, and to force one to “apologize”?

● Prisoners of war are allowed to wear their uniforms. Why was the female sailor forced to violate her uniform regulations by wearing a hijab?

● How will our friends and our enemies see Iran forcing our military personnel to kneel? Only the delusional can claim that this is not evidence of our weakness.

● How will our friends and our enemies see Secretary of State Kerry thanking Iran for releasing our people? A private thanks might be useful. A public thanks is a further national humiliation. It is similar to thanking the schoolyard bully if he stops hitting your child – but with no assurance that the bullying will not recur.

The Iranians are skilled at humiliating prisoners. They’ve had practice. They repeatedly mistreated the 52 U.S. diplomatic and Marine personnel they captured when they seized our embassy in Tehran in 1979 – legally an act of war. Part of this event was fictionalized in the film “Argo.” The prisoners were released after 444 days – on the day Jimmy Carter left office and Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.
Perhaps there is a lesson here. Weak leaders encourage international bullies, and strong leaders deter them. Let us heed this lesson on Election Day.
I’ve always loved the sound of bagpipes. The seizure of our sailors prompted me to look through my music files for “The Barren Rocks of Aden.” It commemorates the time when Aden was a British military base.
From 1874 to 1967, British naval, land, and later air forces were stationed there to protect the outlet from the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. This represented a key choke point on the trade route from Europe via the Suez Canal to India and beyond. But then the Brits left.
Aden harbor was the site of the suicide bombing of USS Cole by Al Qaeda in 2000. The ship was almost sunk, with 17 killed and 39 wounded. Earlier in 2000, a similar attack had been attempted against USS The Sullivans, but the small boat was so overloaded with explosives that it sank. However, Al Qaeda is nothing if not persistent, and they succeeded against the Cole.
The Sullivans is the only U.S. Navy ship named after more than one person. The name honors the five Sullivan brothers who were killed when their ship was sunk off Guadalcanal in World War II. From this incident we learn the following: (1) This was the greatest loss by any American family in World War II. (2) It is unwise to station close relatives together in wartime. (3) Freedom isn’t free, but some pay a very high price, while others are freeloaders and ingrates.
The waters around Aden are infested with Somali pirates. We cheered the rescue of Captain Phillips of the Maersk Alabama, when Navy SEALS simultaneously shot the three pirates holding him hostage. But we have the right − in fact, the duty − to question why these waters were infested with pirates in the first place.
Aden remains a key choke point in the flow of world trade. It remains vulnerable to terrorism and piracy. When I played “The Barren Rocks of Aden,” I was reminded that Aden used to be a British naval and air base, and I realized that the world would be a safer place if it still were.
The United Nations has been called the United Governments, to indicate that most of the 193 member regimes are far from democratic and do not represent their peoples. But even this title is optimistic − often the U.N. is very far from united. Many member regimes range from authoritarian to despotic. For example, can any sane person claim that the Iranian theocracy, with its unelected “Supreme Leader,” represents the Iranian people?
Two world wars and socialism have reduced Britain to the status that it can barely protect its own sailors and marines, much less protect the shipping of other nations. In 2007 Iran seized 15 Royal Navy personnel it claimed had entered its territorial waters. They were later released, but clearly, Britannia no longer rules the waves. No one does. The U.S. Navy is the world’s most powerful, but repeated cuts and widespread responsibilities have stretched it thin − perhaps too thin:

Source: InFocus Quarterly, Winter 2016

One reason we failed to rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans from Benghazi on 9/11/12 was that there was no longer an effective Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. As Jeff Cooper put it:

Unarmed men, and unarmed nations, can only flee from evil. And evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.

People often ask, “Who made America the world’s policeman?” America didn’t rip the badge of world policeman from the shirt of the United Nations, which had been wearing it honorably. No, we found the badge lying in the gutter, where the “world community” had discarded it. We picked up the badge, cleaned off the mud, and looked around to see whether anyone else wanted it. When no one did, we pinned it on our own shirt.
The problem is not that we appropriated the badge. The problem is that no one else wants it, but we no longer seem to have the desire or the ability to wear it effectively. If we are unwilling to increase the size of our military, or at least maintain it, then we need to join with other free nations to create an effective force. This assumes that other nations would be willing and able to join us − a dubious assumption at best. So it almost certainly is up to us. The alternative is chaos, with the vacuum filled by Russia, China, Iran, and other miscellaneous thugs.
In the early 19th century, in the days of sailing ships and muzzle-loading guns, international chaos was less dangerous. Nevertheless, President Jefferson did not tolerate it. When North African pirates interfered with the free passage of ships, he sent the infant U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to solve the problem. They did so, the origin of “To the shores of Tripoli” in the Marines’ Hymn.
But in the era of 9/11, with long-range missiles and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, chaos is far too dangerous to tolerate. Yet to a great extent, we do tolerate it. People who tolerate the intolerable will themselves become intolerable − and eventually extinct.
The key verse of “The Barren Rocks of Aden” is this:

Come on, laddie, beat the drum
Let them know that we are come
Friends will cheer and foes will run
From the barren rocks of Aden.

On the contrary, our current foreign policy seems designed to discourage our friends and embolden our enemies. The rocks of Aden were made barren by nature. Our foreign policy was made barren by choice. Perhaps it is time to make another choice.
The sound of bagpipes is still stirring. The rocks of Aden are still barren. The waters around them, and the other key choke points along trade routes, still need to be patrolled against pirates and terrorists. But who will do it? Leadership Deficit Disorder is a dangerous condition. We need to remedy it this November.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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