Frank Sales pretty much summarized my own reaction:
yeah, true. The Brits are allowed to write letters home, says the article, saying they are all right. I read one of those letters, and it made me ill to think of the coercion that went in to it. If you cannot tell the difference between the situation of these prisoners and those of the imprisoned terrorists, with respect to the basis of their detention, and their treatment, you are simply not a serious person.
Mark, you should have been blogging 40 years ago, you would have made a perfect companion to Jane Fonda visiting our POW's at the Hanoi Hilton. No problems here!
To which Mark responded here and here:
Frank Sales, the man who doesn't think waterboarding is torture, is all of a sudden concerned about coercion and is slinging around charges of *treason* and giving aid and comfort to the enemy?
You make me sick.
I pray for the safety of these men and women. But it is torture whores like you, Frank, that made an article like this possible. You're the one who has given aid and comfort to the enemy by helping to cheer for the US as it sank to the level--no, *below* the level of the enemy, as the article so cruelly and accurately has pointed out. I hope you can sleep at night. Get off my blog.
... Yes, yes, the Iranians are being very nice, parading the Brits about and showing the world how nice they treat people that they ****had no right nor reason to take hostage in the first place.
You mean like Maher Arar?
It's rather late for supporters of Administration to suddenly develop a conscience about kidnapping innocent people and torturing them.
... Which again pretty much brings us back to Mark's use of tu quoque argumentation at its finest. And since he apparently now regards most if not all news critical of Iran as a smokescreen to justify another immoral war, one wonders how long it will take him to start arguing if Iran does release these sailors that Iranian detention policies are morally superior and preferable to those of the United States. Maybe he can take a cue from Germany on this one.
As to Mark's claim that individuals like Frank Sales made articles like that which Mark endorsed possible, color me skeptical. The argument that the United States and its allies deserve what they get because of our policies has been a staple of anti-American rhetoric since at least the 1960s (as I think my quoting of Soviet-era propaganda helps to demonstrate) if not earlier. If he wants to talk about things that are appalling, how does essentially praying for the destruction of both Western civilization and radical Islam on the eve of what he believes in his paranoid delusions to be a major international conflict go? I don't think that he seriously believes that for a moment and was just going off emotion and/or rhetorical effect, but there you go. To say nothing of his exploiting this incident involving the UK and Iran so he can use it as a soapbox to rail against US detention policies?
Which brings me to his latest paranoid fear of a US military strike on Iran on the basis of a statement by the vice president of an obscure Russian think tank? If that is his standard for truth and he doesn't trust American sources, I'm not sure why he isn't more eager to trust other Russian information from considerably further up the food chain. Oh wait, that would involve support for something he has already decided from the onset to oppose, just as he remains a functional pacifist on all matters relating to Iran.
Again, I would throw down the gauntlet and ask him what Iran would specifically have to do for him to consider the military option a valid one on this issue? Since it remains logistically impossible at this point (not to mention completely contrary to the strategy of General Petraeus, to whom the Iraq war has been subcontracted to for all practical purposes), I think it is at best an abstract question to anyone with any serious knowledge of military affairs. If Mark wants to present evidence rather than poorly-sourced conspiracy theories to the contrary, I would like to hear it.
UPDATE: K of C captures my frustration with Mark's increasingly conspiracy-ladden worldview masterfully in a reply to another commenter:
The test for conspiracy theory nuttery is whether there could exist any evidence that would convince the proponent of the theory that he is incorrect.Indeed.
If Americans were captured, it would be an obvious Bush plot. But he knew that, so he arranged to have Brits captured. But that's still too obvious, don't you think? What nationality would the captured sailors have to be before you wouldn't think Bush had a hand in it?
And what about the timing? You think because this situation "magically appears" *now* it has Bush's fingerprints all over it. Would it look less suspicious a month ago, or a month from now?
Is there anything that would convince you that Bush wasn't behind this?
Better pull your fillings out now. That's how they're controlling you.
UPDATE 2 (and by VJM): K of C's post reminds of the intellectual vapidity of the Truly Convinced and their waterproof theories, arguing that "of course, the fact they're Brits PROVES Bush was behind it all as he couldn't have taken Americans." But here is the definitive exchange on the point -- the poison-drink challenge from THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Imagine Shea's thought process IS Wallace Shawn's Vizzini:
Man in Black: The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right, and who is dead.
Vizzini: But it's so simple! All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I'm not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You've made your decision then?
Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows. And Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Man in Black: Truly you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait 'til I get going... where was I?
Man in Black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes, Australia, and you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're just stalling now.
Vizzini: You'd like to think that wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong. So, you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard which means you must have studied. And in studying, you must have learned that man is mortal so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You're trying to trick me into giving away something — it won't work.
Vizzini: It has worked! You've given everything away! I know where the poison is!
Man in Black: Then make your choice.
Vizzini: I will. And I choose... [points beyond Wesley's shoulder] What in the world can that be?
Man in Black: [Turns to look while Vizzini switches the goblets] What? Where? I don't see anything.
Vizzini: Oh, well, I-I could have sworn I saw something. No matter. [Chuckles]
Man in Black: What's so funny?
Vizzini: I'll tell you in a minute, but first, let's drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.
[They drink, Vizzini continues to chuckle]
Man in Black: You guessed wrong.
Vizzini: You only think I did, that's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned. You fool. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line." Ah ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha!