Anorak News | US Press Says Let’s Not Noogie Ahmadinejad’s Iran

US Press Says Let’s Not Noogie Ahmadinejad’s Iran

by | 5th, April 2007


“A DEMEANING, undignified, humiliating spectacle.” The New York Daily News op-ed page was unequivocal about the denouement of the Iran hostage crisis.

“To watch Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air, senior officer in the group, tell the preening, gloating Ahmadinejad, ‘We’re very grateful for your forgiveness,’ was to cringe,” the paper said.

Fellow New York newspapers were in little doubt either.

The New York Sun (which earlier this week predicted that the hostages could be held until Tony Blair stepped down) drew a direct link between the release of an Iranian diplomat in Iraq and the breakthrough in Tehran.

On its editorial page, the Sun predicted that it would not be surprised “to see the Iranians try nabbing some more Western hostages the next time they want something from our side.”

It concluded: “We find it hard to read a quid pro quo of any sort in the case of the royal marines as anything but a defeat for the Atlantic alliance and a win for the madman.”

The Wall Street Journal op-ed page gave the British slightly more credit, noting that “Blair’s decision to use diplomacy to gain the sailors’ release paid off,” and chastising the scant support offered by the EU and the UN.

But the paper did wonder aloud why the hostages “seemingly cooperated so readily with their captors.”

“Videotaped confessions, in which the accused apologize for misdeeds they didn’t commit, are staples of Iran’s authoritarian regime, and the British apologies to their captors may well have been coerced,” the paper mused.

“Yet it’s hard to know what to make of yesterday’s pictures of the sailors – in suits, not uniforms – smiling and shaking hands with a beaming Mr. Ahmadinejad. These weren’t civilians but sailors presumably trained to resist propaganda displays.”

Meanwhile, in its main article on the release, the Daily News noted that while the British captives’ farewell meeting with Ahmadinejad was carefully choreographed, their reaction upon hearing they were to be released was “another black eye for Britain.”

“Instead of displaying some dignity, they were shown on Iranian TV whooping and hollering and giving each other celebratory noogies,” the News complained.

On its op-ed page, the News pulled no punches. Under the headline “Heading Home Humbled” it grumbled that “it would have been inspiring had the captives refused to appear in Ahmadinejad’s videotaped propaganda, or had they simply stood stone-faced and silent after Ahmadinejad ‘pardoned’ them as ‘a gift to the British people’ ”

The lone supportive voice came from the op-ed pages of the New York Times, where Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, concluded that Britain’s conduct provided a lesson for the US.

“Had the British followed the American example, once the sailors and marines were seized, they could have escalated the conflict by pursuing the matter more forcefully at the United Nations or sending additional naval vessels to the area,” Nasr and Takeyh wrote. “Instead, the British tempered their rhetoric and insisted that diplomacy was the only means of resolving the conflict. The Iranians received this as pragmatism on London’s part and responded in kind.”

With tensions rising between Iran and the US, the men warned that America faced a stark choice, “it will have to either escalate its confrontational policy or adopt a policy of engagement.”

Unsurprisingly, the Post knew exactly which line to take: “Whatever happened, it’s important not to forget that Iran – a state sponsor of terror, after all – precipitated the crisis by kidnapping British military personnel.

“If it’s rewarded for releasing them, the world becomes a marginally more dangerous place. That’s always the way with criminals.”

Picture: The Spine

Posted: 5th, April 2007 | In: Reviews Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink