There’s hostages, and there’s hostages

The Iran-Britain standoff looks to be over with Iran’s announcement that it will send the 15 captive Britons home. And it’s not surprising that Tehran is claiming victory: It has used the incident to sound a warning to the U.S. and its allies that Tehran will retaliate if the U.S. persists in its provocative program of seizing Iranian officials in Iraq, then let it cool before it could escalate into something more dangerous. And despite the insistence that there was no quid-pro-quo, it’s hard to avoid the impression that some form of prisoner swap is the basis for resolving the stand-off. Not only was one Iranian captive held by U.S.-linked forces in Iraq released on Monday; it now appears that Iran is finally to be given consular access to five officials held incommunicado by the U.S. since they were snatched in January. To be sure, the government of Iraq said this week it was lobbying intensively for the U.S. to free five Iranians because their release, in the words of Iraq’s foreign ministry, “will be a factor that will help in the release of the British sailors and marines.” Indeed.

Patrick Coburn reported yesterday that the context of Iran’s capture of the Brits is the U.S. attempt to seize two senior Iranian military officials in that raid in Erbil. As Paul Woodward notes, these actions by the U.S. — which may also include the case of a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard official who recently disappeared in Turkey (Western officials off the record say he defected; the Iranians say he was kidnapped) — are a coherent campaign designed to put pressure on Iran by targetting top officials. This policy of kidnapping is even applauded by Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria, who writes that the fact that the U.S. “apprehended five Iranians” in Erbil is one of the clever ways in which the U.S. is putting pressure on Iran without actually resorting to force. Zakaria is usually a sober and thoughtful commentator, which is why that casual endorsement of kidnapping is so outrageous — not simply legally, but more importantly, because you have to wonder at the sobriety of anyone who advocates winding up the Iranians by seizing hostages!

Elsewhere, of course, sobriety appears to prevail in sufficient quantities to reinforce my suspicion that a U.S.-Iran war remains unlikely. When the chips are down, it seems, Iran’s pragmatic national security adviser Ali Larijani appears to have more sway over the decision making than does the more hot-headed President Ahmedinajad. Larijani is a tough-minded nationalist who will aggressively assert and defend Iran’s interest, but he also knows very clearly when to step back from the brink and find compromises and accomodations to avoid confrontation. Once Iran had sent the message that it could make the U.S. and its allies pay a heavy price for the covert war they’re waging, there was nothing to be gained from escalating the crisis. Besides, Iran came out ahead — Iraq came out more forcefully against the U.S. snatching Iranian personnel on its soil, and its hard to imagine that Britain will support such actions. Indeed, Britain’s handling of the crisis, to the irritation of the Bush Administration hawks, underscored the principle that diplomacy remains the only game in town.

Indeed, the crisis and its resolution has highlighted the growing isolation of the Bush Administration in shaping events in the Middle East. President Bush was relegated to grumbling on the sidelines about the “inexcusable” Iranian action, and warning that there would be no, uh, quid-pro-quo. London’s response showed no appetite for confrontation. And while Syria and Turkey weighed in to help Britain coax Iran into a deal, Iraq directed its efforts at Washington, pressing for the release of Iranians captured on its soil — and, presumably, making clear that it won’t sanction the U.S. seizing Iranian personnel in Iraqi territory. (Not that the U.S. will necessarily refrain, but it removes the fig leaf of claiming that these activities are designed to protect Iraq.) Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi has defied Bush and gone off to chat with Damascus, and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, is warning Bush that there’ll be no money for an open-ended war in Iraq.

Of course, the U.S. will look to escalate pressure on Iran in the hope of getting it to back down on uranium enrichment. But events of the past two weeks may have underscored that the other key stakeholders (on both sides) see diplomacy — and quid-pro-quo — as the way to go.

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49 Responses to There’s hostages, and there’s hostages

  1. Ziad says:

    I’m also less concerned about war with Iran than before, but there is one key difference with Iraq in ’03; Iraq, being weak and essentially helpless, could be approached without need for surprise. Iran is a bit stronger, so I fear that a war, if one happens, would be a bolt from the blue. We would wake up one morning and find we have attacked Iran.

    Therefore the reduced saber rattling on America’s part may not be as positive a sign as we would hope.


  2. Bernard Chazelle says:

    It’s going to be tough to demonize Iran for a while after this triumph of public diplomacy. British sailors dressed in spiffy suits (donated by the Islamic Republic) joshing with Mahmoud about what a fine time the commemoration of the “passing of Christ” was for a pardon. Priceless. Where was Mel Gibson when we needed him?

    Between the Mahmoud show and the Pelosi traveling circus, Bush and Condi look like truly desperate housewives.

  3. Jorge says:

    Britain’s handling of the crisis, to the irritation of the Bush Administration hawks, underscored the principle that diplomacy remains the only game in town.

    – TK

    This truly is the lesson of the past 6 years.

    Even after 9/11, cooler heads should have realized that the way you ultimately get things done is by negogiation, not force.

    The Iraqis, like the Vietnamese before them, have taught us that we do not have the numbers (in forces) to impose our will.

    It has always been clear to me that the Iraq war was ONLY going to be “won” by the IRAQIS. When it was clear how many millions of Iraqis have left their country, the war was over.

    To whom, really, can we turn the country over that isn’t going to be tied to some imposing force? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    I predicted long ago that replacing Saddam Hussein only meant we would eventually be supporting another dictator in Iraq. It wasn’t genius on my part. Just plain speaking observation.

  4. Palooza says:

    This crisis was truly the indicator of just how low the Bush Administration has sunk the U.S. in the middle east. The Iranians played this perfectly — in fact they held all the cards.

    In essence, by taking this faux “high ground” in their treatment of the Brits, the Iranians demonstrated to the Arab world and to the world in general just how depraved U.S. actions have been.

    From Abu Gharib to the capture of Iranian dimplomats, the U.S. has lost is direction and moral grounding. While the Iranian’s goal was obvious, to the average joe it appears as if the U.S. is more rogue than the ultimate rogue state. The fact that this position can be viewed as having some credibility is very troubling and embarrassing. They are toying with us.

    My concern is that this little stunt will increase the likelihood that Bush will do what he does best — launches our military into action (at least air strikes). How does the administration sit down with these guys now without losing more face? (more than the dace was lost so long ago….)

  5. Bernard Chazelle says:

    You got it exactly right, Palooza. Ahmadinejad’s theatrics had a subtitle everyone could read: “Look how we treat our prisoners. Now look at Guantanamo. And tell me which one is the civilized nation.”

    Now let’s try the thought experiment. It’s your choice: you can be captured by the Iranian navy or by the US Marines in Anbar province. Which one do you prefer? Sadly, the question answers itself. That’s how low we’ve fallen.

  6. RWB says:

    I think Bernard Chazelle is very astute. What we forget is that Iran’s moves are not just signals to us (and Britain), but also to their neighbors and to other countries that have interests in the region. For Americans and the British (myself included), the parading of the captured soldiers was deeply offensive. But others perhaps read it the same way Chazelle suggested–their treatment was (relatively) humane, and their captivity short-lived. Aside from the tangible benefit to Iran of getting some of their own captives released, Iran scored a propaganda victory.

    The reality is that the U.S. is a free, democratic country that typically treats its citizens rather well, and Iran is an unfree tyranny that very often treats its own people very poorly. But the image that Iran has been able to project in the past few days is that of a decent country that treats prisoners well and doesn’t blunder into into war–in contrast with you -know-who! And when our witless television commentators complain of Geneva Convention violations, they come off as base hypocrits. No doubt many of these statements have been rebroadcast in the Middle East and Europe.

  7. Fred says:

    1. It is Iran who has been provocative in this area. Sending so-called ‘military officials’ into Iraq (covert operators), and kidnapping the sailors in the first place. Not to mention kicking out the IAEA.

    2. “you have to wonder at the sobriety of anyone who advocates winding up the Iranians by seizing hostages!”

    The Iranians seized in Iraq were covert operators. There is no reason to suspect the were captured for the purpose of trading. Which means they weren’t hostages at all. Tony is suggesting that Iranians anywhere are to be immune from arrest or capture. Think again.

    3. There is no evidence that Iran actually scored a propaganda victory here. I haven’t heard of anybody who thinks the Iraqi boat being searched was in Iranian waters. If they were, why weren’t they taken into custody? They avoided a propaganda disaster by letting the Brits go. How would it look to be abusing unarmed, noncombatant sea-cops for doing customs inspections? I think what happened is that the press corps has been persuaded that Iran scored a propaganda victory — and that the reportage of that was the real propaganda victory Iran made.

    I am curious, if Britain had “Humiliated” Iran, would Britain have scored a propaganda victory?

    4. The West is going to have to be even better at taking and trading hostages if it is going to be actively engaged in either peace or war with Iran. We don’t know which set of hostages, the captured Iranians or the British sailors, provided the best intelligence. If the Iranians who were released were still high-value, then Iran scored an intelligence victory, not a propaganda victory.

    5. That Iran took British hostages in response to the American capture of Iranian covert operators shows that Iran fears the US but not the British. And it also shows that, with Iran, it is better to be feared. Indeed, it may simply be that the hostages were released now to beat the arrival, in the Gulf, of the third US carrier group currently on it’s way.

  8. KB says:

    Uh oh …
    Here we go with FASCIST FRED and his comments again.
    Who stepped on his tail?
    Now he wil be barking forever with his naive feeble and simpleminded 2 dimensional FOX, ABC,CBS, CNN, and NBC news network based education.
    Oh Boy.
    Respectfully and sincerely Fredy Boy.

  9. Tony says:

    Fred seems to spend an awful lot of time hanging around commenting on a web site plainly at odds with his own right-wing world view — he obviously doesn’t find anything here that he agrees with, so I do wonder why he’s suddenly such a frequent commentator — always in the form of rebuttal, and as in the case of the one above, often somewhat facile. (I’m not going to waste valuable time that I could use for blogging responding to your rebuttals, “Fred,” if that’s what you’re thinking… Nor would I encourage my readers to bother. It’s just a distraction for our more important conversations…)

  10. Fred says:

    It’s always worthwhile to listen to ideas different from one’s own. Occasionally you learn something. Being left or right tends to mean you trust information from one set of sources but not another. Sometimes that’s all it means. That’s not the same as having principles and it leads to narrowness of vision.

    I’m not a right-winger. I’m for strong unions, single-payer health care, strong anti-trust, an estate tax with teeth, and I’m pro-choice. The conservatives won’t have me. With good reason.

    Did you guys really conclude that since I’m anti-Iran I’m right-wing? And so that means you favor Iran over the US and Britain?

    The Left in the US seems to have become the attack dogs of the Democratic party, and is no longer even anti-fascist.

  11. Bernard Chazelle says:

    Fred: Why are you “anti-Iran”?

    What has Iran done to you?

    Did Iran engineer a coup in your country to replace a democracy by a cruel dictatorship? Did Iran support a vile, bloodthirsty tyrant next door who attacked your country, gassed your people, and killed half a million of them? With the Iranian equivalent of Kissinger cheering on the sidelines. Did Iran down one of your civilian airliners?

    And please remind me which country Iran has attacked lately? So many… I can’t keep track.

    For the last half century, US behavior toward Iran has been nothing less than shameful. But apparently, in Fredoland, the word shame was banned a long time ago.

  12. Tony says:

    Fred — you say “I’m not a right-winger. I’m for strong unions, single-payer health care, strong anti-trust, an estate tax with teeth, and I’m pro-choice. The conservatives won’t have me. With good reason.” And then you add the idiotic observation that “the Left in America has become attack dogs of the Democrats” — frankly, your drivel is starting to annoy me, particularly becuase you seem to be passing yourself off as American, whereas I feel duty-bound to tell my readers that your email address (not visible to the reader) makes clear that you’re actually posting from Israel, and also seems to suggest that “Fred” is not your name. My only question is are you on official Hasbara duty, or is this just voluntary?

  13. Fred says:

    Fred is my middle name. I say what I believe. Nobody pays or advises me for this. I live in Jerusalem. I am a US citizen.

    Sorry to annoy you. Somebody has to make principled critiques of the Left. I try to help. The Left needs to improve. There used to be leftists who bemoaned the error of the Left supporting Stalin. I feel a little like they did.

    The Left seems to see large parts of the Middle East as an aspect of G W Bush. That is, the ME exists mainly to expose the flaws of the US President. The truth is that the ME will exist after the last Bush leaves office.

  14. Fred says:

    Bernard C:
    When I wrote I was anti-Iran I meant to say I am against the current government of Iran.

    The coup against Mossedegh was over 50 years ago. You’d think the 1979/80 hostage taking would have got it out of their system.

    Iran supports death-cult terrorism all over the world, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Threatens nuclear war. Needlessly defies the IAEA. Says it doesn’t care if Iran is destroyed if it means the eventual triumph of Imperial Islam. Is scaring the rest of the (Sunni) Middle East into building nuclear facilities in self defense. Promises to destroy the US and Israel. And their groups blew up the US Marines in Beirut and the Jewish Community Center in Argentina.

    The game that both Saddam and the Mullahs were playing is to get a monopoly on Middle Eastern oil and use that to conquer and/or influence first the Middle East, second Europe, and third North America. You can see in their statements and their actions.

    Iran says straight out it is a threat to the West.

    The Iran-Syria axis has lately attacked both Lebanon and Israel through their illegitimate proxies. This is a different kind of war than we are used to, but it is a kind of war.

    What is shameful is that the West continues to subsidize its enemies in the ME by paying them hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the “Beverly Hillbillies” who accidentally lived near the oil fields.

  15. Jorge says:

    “and kidnapping the sailors in the first place.”

    – Fred

    If we are to believe Western political and media accounts, this is true. But after the war in Iraq, WHY would we do that?

    What I still do not understand is why the British sailors were “exercising” so close (1.5 nautical miles by their own account) to Iraqi waters without some kind of cover? By their own account, the British sailors weren’t even armed.

    What, then, were they doing? Fishing?

    Both the Iraqis and the British sailors, according to the British sailors, were taunting each other, but to what end?

    None of it makes ANY sense.

    Why didn’t the British sailors radio their “home base,” their mother ship? (Something akin to “Homebase, we have enemy contact,” would have seemed appropriate and could have been met with instant air cover.) Why were they so far from their “mother ship” that they could not be protected? What exactly were they doing 1.5 miles from Iraq?

    I know, I know. Just like the recipe, it’s an ol’ family secret that none of the authorities can comment on due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

    But without direct comment and explanation, one cannot objectively determine that Iran “kidnapped” the sailors. That may, in the end, be the case. But without further information we cannot draw that conclusion. There is more than reasonable doubt here.

    This is the kind of objective reasoning that I would like to see from this website.

    Maybe I’ve missed some of this information and perhaps someone out there can enlighten me. Even Fred, if the answers make sense. Resorting to “America, believe it or leave it,” however, is waste of time.

  16. Ziad says:

    Thanx for educating us erring leftists, Fred. Perhaps you could educate us some more by answering these questions;

    1) If Iran offerred to halt enrichment in exchange for Israel joining the NPT and dismantelling its own arsenal, would you agree?

    2) Do you believe nations could sell or not sell their own resources as they see fit, or should buyers be permitted to take them if the actual owners aren’t reasonable? Would you suggest invading Russia and taking its oil? If not, why not?

    3) Why is America’s invasion of a nation 10,000 miles away that never attacked it not an overt act of aggression, but Iran’s capturing of British sailors in waters far from their home, admitting prior to their capture their intent to spy on Iran, is?

    4) You said Iran “Is scaring the rest of the (Sunni) Middle East into building nuclear facilities in self defense.” I’m touched by your concern for Sunni Arabs. Please provide us with a list of all the Arab nations Iran has invaded. Please don’t say Lebanon, unless you’re trying to make us laugh.

  17. Fred says:

    The British were checking Iraqi ships for contraband. Don’t know more about it than that.

    1. Israel is a small country surrounded by several large countries that on and off try to destroy it completely. If there were a comprehensive peace treaty and the US would guarantee Israeli security with a mutual defense pact then nuclear disarmament should be possible.

    Israel, like Pakistan, only threatens to use nuclear weapons in retaliation. Iran threatens to use them in offense.

    2. Oil is in a special category as it literally fuels the world economy and drains it financially. Russia is not working to destroy other nations or cultures and in any case is too big to handle. The Middle East is a moderate problem that is quickly and aggressively growing to be a terrible problem. Russians remember world war and don’t want another. Iran’s leaders are suicidal and cannot be allowed to own nukes nor be given the means to build a significant war machine.

    3. The Saddam government was believed to be in extreme violation of it’s treaty obligations and needed to be replaced. Nevertheless, the invasion of Iraq may be termed aggression. There is a serious legal argument that Iraq’s violation of treaties and Security Council resolutions made it legally okay to invade. But I am not any kind of lawyer. The pain of the Iraqi people is caused by the following insurgency — a reign of destruction by a dispossessed evil minority.

    4. The surrounding ME countries are not waiting for the nuclear holocaust to begin for them to start extensive defensive preparations. They understand the Mullahs well enough to see the handwriting on the wall. You should see it too. My concern is for an unstable region soon to be populated by numerous nuclear powers and possibly intoxicated by stories of Jihad and the glories of nuclear martyrdom. Global Nuclear War is possible and must be prevented.

    You seem concerned with Israel’s nukes. Don’t worry, the Americans have their thumb on the situation and don’t like disturbances. Even if Israeli nuclear use was in response to an overwhelming attack by numerous Muslim nations, the world would dump a huge load of crap on Israel and the Israelis know this. If Israel wanted to act aggressively with nukes, it would already have done so.

  18. bob k says:

    “There’s hostages, and there’s hostages”, led me to look
    up hostage on Wikipedia. Then I followed this thread of
    thought to “Stockholm Syndrome”, and I wondered, aren’t
    we all being held hostage and some of us have identified
    with our captors, the monotheist religions of mankind.
    The problem, if such exists, is in the identification with a
    group, so strongly reinforced by violence and the threat of
    violence, that people cannot recognize our potential free agency on this planet. The cycle continues century after century as mankind is deceived into accepting the rulership of priests, rabbis, mullahs, prime ministers,ideologies, etc. whose real objective, conscious or unconscious, is to build a wall of the mind around their hostages, the suffering common man. I don’t know how to escape this prison, except the limited attempt to identify and isolate the authoritarian types who control many of the hierarchies of power and use them for their personal agenda. As usual I only have questions as I try to understand the deeper nature of the issue.

  19. Ziad says:

    1) Perhaps if Iran recieved a public, written guarantee from both the U.S. and Israel that neither will ever attack or destabalize it, it would also give up enrichment. At least you wont know untill you try.
    2) You talk of the mad mullahs as if it were self-evident. Iran has not attacked or even threatened to attack any country in the middle east…not even Israel. Iran’s president has said “The Zionist regime will disappear from the page of time,” much like the Soviet Union disappeared when it ceased to be viable. A prediction wich may prove entirely false. But given Israel’s ‘demographic problem’ along with declining immigration combined with a number of Israeli’s prefering to live in Europe or America rather than Sparta, maybe not. lsrael’s demographic troubles might of course be solved if Palestinian’s are ‘persuaded’ to leave. A nuclear Iran may, however, deny Israel its most persuasive methods. Perhaps that is your concern?

    Ahmadinijad never said Iran will bring about this result, and indeed supreme guide Khamenei has indicated Iran would accept any deal reached between Israel and the Arabs…such as the Saudi deal.

    3) not to belabor your mad mullah point, but Iran’s actions in the post 9/11 period right untill after the destruction of Iraq have been geared toward reconciliation with the U.S. Offering to assist downed pilots, helping with their contacts to the northeren alliance and offering to recognize Israel among numerous concessions (in 2003) aren’t the actions of men bent on world destruction.

    4) and not to be-belabor the point, a Tel Aviv university study discussed in Haaretz (let me guess; lefty paper, can’t be trusted) states “Iran seeks ‘nuclear amibiguity’ likely to act ‘logically” (feb 2. 07) People in the know don’t take the mad mullah thing seriously at all.

    5) “There is a serious legal argument that Iraq’s violation of treaties and Security Council resolutions made it legally okay to invade.” There was a ‘serious’ legal argument that Danzig really belonged to Germany and that by refusing to return it, Poland was instigating war.

    Best Wishes,

  20. Saifedean says:


    I know you and the rest of your Zionist moron friends feel there is a battle to be raged on the bloggosphere, and thanks to the Foreign Ministry’s Megaphone software you have to go to every website that is marginally critical of Israel to spew your nonsensical bullcrap thinking that it will change people’s minds and make them more pro-Israel, but you’re wasting your time here. Anyone who’s stupid enough to agree with you is probably not reading this blog, and anyone who reads this blog has by now learned to skim past your bullcrap to get to the adult talk.

    Please go to LGF or some other such “forum” where you and your fellow Zionist cunts can indulge in more of your racist idiotic demented rambling, and continue to bay for the blood of Palestinian children.


    I usually agree with a lot of what you say, but: “Zakaria is usually a sober and thoughtful commentator”

    Are you Fu**ing kidding me?

  21. Fred says:

    1. Once such a guarantee is given, Iran would be free to nuclearize its military. A compromise should be possible. No Iranian nuclear weapons and IAEA compliance in return for a mutual non-aggression pact.

    2. If it really were a prediction and not a threat the world would not be reacting the way it is.

    3. Diplomacy is complex. I have no trouble believing the US or Iran has screwed it up. It still looks to me that Iran is bent on military domination of the region or world. Hence, Iran has made itself into our enemy.

    4. Some people are more optimistic. When we are dealing with the possibility of nuclear holocaust, great care is required.

    5. As I said, I am not a lawyer.

    Thanks for the tip on megaphone software, I’ll check it out. Here’s a tip for you:

    People these days tend to look down on Hate Speech and people like you who spew it. Clean up your act.

  22. KB says:

    Hey Fascist Fred,
    What is an “American” doing in Juresalem?
    Waiting for the rapture?
    Are you going to be the first to get Jessus’ autograph?
    Sign me in dude.
    You and your comments just make me laugh and I am not going to get into a pissing contest with you, however I do know they got some good Hashish in there and you are definitly consuming that because of the Fascist Zionist garbage that you print.
    I will leave that to the other compadres like Bernard, Ziad, Tony…etc. Hey Compadres may the force be with you.
    Peace dude

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  24. Saifedean says:

    Dear Fascist Fred:

    I was in no way being insulting towards you; I was merely accurately describing you. You shouldn’t get upset when someone tells you that what you spew “racist idiotic ramblings”, instead you should try and NOT spew these racist idiotic ramblings instead of blaming people for stating the bleeding obvious.

  25. Tony says:

    Sorry, KB, I’m not bothering with Fred, either – his arguments are not really serious or coherent, and I don’t buy his description of his mission and purpose here. As far as Rootless Cosmopolitan is concerned, Fred’s a bit of a red herring…

  26. Fred says:

    I am not a fish, a fascist, or a racist.

    If your ideas are good you don’t need to insult people, you can use facts and logic. Try it, you might like the feeling.

    1. Learn to spell.
    2. Learn to think.
    3. Hashish generates fascist thought? A lot of stoned leftists who will disagree.
    4. Peace, dude. Yes, peace.

    Tony said: “I don’t buy his description of his mission and purpose here”. So, what’s your theory?

  27. KB says:

    Greetings Fscist Fred,
    “Learn to print” Well I am writing while at work as aI run around, therefore the least I am worried about is the typos. I am not trying to impress people in here.
    “Learn to thinK” Well my dear fascist dude, I lived 18 years in the Arab world, I was born and raised in the slums and the scums and I grew in a tough society and under the shadows of a totalitarian dictatorship. I witnessed and lived coups, the secrtet police round ups, and even the Yom Kippur war and lived in the bomb shelters while your where putting your cute basseball gloves on and going to your pretty ball games and sucking down your hot dogs.
    So my fascist friend spare me the Shakespearian bull shit about your knowledge about my part of the world.
    That is my turff and you know jack shit about it.
    As I stated before just because you grew up reading the the government controlled news pappers or watched the American News stations does not make you an expert on the Middle East. On The contrary here in America (which I reside) the more news your read through our press the dumber and more misinformed you get because our
    press and media is controlled by the government which has its head up Isreal rear end so deep that it can not think rationally.
    As for the Hashish, sorry I would not waste a good chunck of high on an idiot like you.
    No hashish for you.
    That is all
    Go find something else to bark about and stay awy from the Middle East. Believe me if you step into my old neighborhood they will devour a cute boy like you in less than 5 minuts.

  28. sandrahn says:

    Haven’t posted here in awhile. Great blog entry, as usual Tony. Pity some of you are feeding the zionist troll. And a pity to see him blight this blog, he’s ruining the discussion, please just ignore him. The guy’s probably one of those loony Brooklyn zionist Jews who made his treasured little aliyah where he now lives in terror of those foaming-at-the-mouth Iranians. Tony’s right to ignore him and disbelieve who he is and what he says his motives are. His comments are ignorant, worthless, racist trash.

    As to the whole British sailors-taken-by-Iran thing…

    I esp. loved the hypocritical contradictions the whole thing generated. I refer specifically to the woman sailor. Her presence among the sailors was cause for Pres. Ahmedinajad to condemn western society for not respecting women and “forcing” them into combat roles. He expressed outrage about her being a mother away from her child. Now, both in the UK and the US, public discourse has been plagued by rightwing idiots condemning feminism for taking women out of the home, for neglecting their children, for putting careers first, ad nauseum. Seems every week the NY Times does yet another piece about how women are suddenly discovering the joys of giving up their jobs to care for their children (naturally these articles are limited to affluent women who can afford to make this choice). And many of these pundits detest the presence of women in the military. These same pundits profess supposed outrage at how Muslim countries treat women. So here’s Ahmedinajad publicly saying exactly what the likes of these anti-Muslim anti-feminist rightwing bigots are saying. I just loved how his words put him squarely in their camp.

    And I have to agree with Saifedean about Zakaria, Tony. He gets far too much credit in the blogosphere. His support of kidnapping Iranians is exactly what he’s about. He’s a beltway know-nothing hack with delusions of being some sort of region expert just because of his ethnic origins.

  29. sandrahn says:

    I probably don’t need to say this but just in case there are incredibly literal people out there: when I said “foaming-at-the-mouth Iranians” I meant it as a way to describe the racist way that zionists like Fred think of their neighbors.

  30. Pat S. says:

    How about the fact that Paul Wolfowitz is about to be fired over favors to his girlfriend? And further, how about the fact that his girlfriend is a Muslim?

  31. Tony says:

    Pat, what I find even more bizarre, is that, at least from the pic in the NY Times this morning, she actually looks like him! Could Paul Wolfowitz be a narcissist? Nah….

  32. Pat says:

    That’s hilarious that you mention that, as we were just discussing that very similarity today at Slate.

    I don’t know what kind of narcissist wears socks with holes in them when he’s going to be photographed without shoes, but hey, the dude clearly likes really bad ideas.

  33. Ziad says:

    Its a bit old but as far as the chances of a U.S. attack on Iran go, they seem to have gone down a bit;

    “US urges Iran to join Iraq talks”

    some highlights;
    “Ms Rice denied that the Bush administration’s Iran policy had ever been directed at regime change, insisting that the aim was to “have a change in regime behaviour”. ”

    “Iran says it will decide on its attendance at the May 3-4 conference after meeting Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, this week. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Sunday noted a “softening” in Ms Rice’s rhetoric. But he added that any “shift” should be put into practice.”

    If you enjoy irony, you’ll need to comb through Shakespeare (happy B-day, btw) or Milton to find something as good as this.

  34. Bulletin News says:

    Cool write up on s hostages! Always love this view.

  35. Brenda says:

    I found your site quite by accident but like it

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  38. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the expectations of EU visas authorized for Eliminating the start of an interlocutor’s appointment and said that the negotiation process.

    Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt held a joint press conference after a meeting alone with Davutoglu, Bildt said it was very pleased to welcome.

    Very deep-rooted historical relations between Turkey and Sweden is a very solid basis, and Davutoglu said on Sunday the visit is for these reasons, such as being able to make a holiday on the date noted. Davutoglu, “Turkey does not recognize the holiday-Swedish friendship” he said they would continue talks in the evening at dinner.

    Sweden is yet an official visit to Turkey since 2004, but very often because of the recognition of this, varmad?klar?n? talks about Obama, a guest minister’s visit to Turkey that very often, or even would ask him to say that Istanbul is the city wants to live in Stockholm, said that after the most .

    Bildt on the words “In fact, even more often than you can say I came to Turkey” was joke.

    Davutoglu Bildt, “played a role in many peace attempts, the European foreign policy wise man, a statesman with a very deep-rooted experience as” qualifying it, the future of the EU negotiations, Europe’s problems, bilateral relations, that they discussed issues such as Cyprus, the evening concerning the two countries will handle other issues like the Middle East said.

    On bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding, a great judge, saying that Davutoglu, Turkey’s biggest supporter in Sweden, the EU said. Today we are interviewing to be done to overcome bottlenecks in Turkey-EU relations Davutoglu said, between the two sides said that they discussed the issue of how to create a positive agenda.

  39. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Opera.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed
    soon. Kudos

  40. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
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    Bless you!

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