First of all, it's important to say that I am extremely glad and happy for their families and comrades that they were returned in good health. There were most certainly many prayers answered there, mine included.
At the same time, there seems to be a roiling wave of cringing going on, if only on the blogosphere and the land of the pundits. Rather than toss in my completely uninformed two cents, I'm just going to paste in some quotes from folks who I believe have good and salient points about the topic. Yes, I'm a lazy blogger.
It’s really not my place to criticize the conduct of the captured British sailors and marines; they have put their lives on the line to defend their country (and by extension, mine), and I have not. They’ve already demonstrated more bravery than I have, just by getting on a boat flying the Union Jack anywhere near Iranian waters.
Some things about this are, I believe, fair game: their lack of preparation for capture, the “please just kill me now” rules of engagement foisted on them by Whitehall ninnies, and the absurd policy of appeasement toward Iran propagated by feckless British politicians.Those things I’ll rant about quite a bit. But the sailors and marines have nothing to prove to the likes of me, and I give thanks to God that they are home safely.
Still, I want to contrast the story of another Navy POW you might have heard of. He ran for Vice-President alongside Ross Perot in 1992, and he spent seven years being tortured by the North Vietnamese. For his resistance to their efforts to use him as a propaganda tool, Rear Admiral James Stockdale won the Medal of Honor.
TO CLARIFY: There’s nothing wrong with a civilian like me criticizing troops who fall short of the professional standards expected of them. But I certainly won’t accuse them of cowardice, nor will I second-guess their behavior inside Iran, especially as details emerge that they were roughed up and subjected to mock execution.
I don’t think their government trained them for this, though, and the British admiralty still doesn’t seem to get it:
The admiral dismissed suggestions that the hostages should have restricted themselves to merely telling the Iranians their name, rank and serial number. “They weren’t on combat operations. They weren’t like people shot down in Tornados in the Gulf War.”
I think that’s exactly what they were like.
However, Dean at TownHall wonders how we've gone from "Let's roll" to "Fighting back was not an option" so very quickly. And I have to admit, I'm a little disquieted by the latter quote myself.
Cox & Forkum: From Iran With Love
There's a very interesting clip from MSNBC, an interview with Ret. Col. Jack Jacobs. He takes things further than I would, calling the actions of the sailors "disgusting" and "disreputable", but the Colonel's own actions pretty much speak for themselves and he's well within his rights to his take on the matter.
From the NCRI:
AMERICANS SHOULD be deeply troubled by the spectacle of the once-mighty British lion slinking away from a confrontation with the jackals of the outlaw regime in Iran.
Iran committed an act of war by seizing 15 British sailors and marines in Iraqi waters and holding them hostage for almost two weeks. In response to this outrage, the British government dithered while the Iranians humiliated the hostages by videotaping their "confessions."
The crisis ended Wednesday with the docile captives shaking hands with Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and thanking him for releasing them despite their alleged intrusion in Iranian waters.
This dismal scene reinforced the perverse lesson Iran's radical Islamic government long ago learned: Hostage-taking is an effective weapon for neutralizing the power of Western nations.
Another via HotAir: the soldier who didn't smile is already being cropped out of the picture.
There's a fascinating editorial over at the Sunday Herald. I'll try to refrain from quoting the whole thing.
Whatever happened to name, rank and serial number? Did they need to be quite so, well, co-operative? The odd black eye wouldn't have gone amiss. "They may deserve our pity," remarked the Mail columnist Max Hastings "but they do not command our respect". John Buchan was no doubt turning in his grave at the sight of Britons being so humbled.
But servicemen and women aren't taught to resist anymore. Nobody seriously expects soldiers to sacrifice themselves to defend the dignity of the flag. All that Boy's Own stuff went out with Trevor Howard and the second world war. Modern marines are trained to do whatever is necessary to ensure survival in captivity, short - presumably - of releasing information which might endanger other British military personnel.
They aren't really taught to fight either, especially in the navy, which hasn't been involved in any actual war since the Falklands conflict 25 years ago. In our gender-balanced, allergy-free, risk-averse Royal Navy, you are meant to spend your time looking at digital readouts from machines that go ping.
The editorial also supposes that if it had been US Marines captured, the western world would be at war with Iran right now because US Marines would have fought back or showed some resistance, "passive or otherwise" (here's the US military's Code of Conduct). I think that's guessing about a lot of things (we never went to war with China after the Navy "spy plane incident"), but I think why this whole thing is bothering a lot of Americans, including me, is that we expect resistance, "passive or otherwise". We don't expect smiling and hand-shaking and to see military servicepeople helping their captors to use them as propaganda tools.
For once I'm not saying I have all the answers, or that what happened (as in the release of the hostages) was bad, although it's definitely a "learning experience" for the modern British military described in the Herald's editorial.