View Full Version : Who you calling traitor?

04-11-07, 09:59 AM
Who you calling traitor?
Charles A Krohn

April 10, 2007 10:00 PM

Many have been swift to criticise the 15 British sailors for giving in to the Iranians and scrambling to sell their stories, but none have been so hostile as the Americans - especially those associated with the American military. "I can tell you that they wouldn't take me without firing a shot. I would take as many with me as I possibly could," said Colonel Jack Jacobs. The greatest Middle East shock of the year, wrote retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, is that "members of Britain's Royal Marines wimped out in a matter of days and acquiesced in propaganda broadcasts for their captors."

This is mostly nonsense. First, unless one is there at the time, it's disingenuous to say precisely what the soldiers would or should do.

In theory, of course, those in uniform are obliged to resist capture. Historical examples suggest surrender - and that's what we're talking about - is allowable with honour when ammunition is expended and the odds of escape are overwhelming unlikely. But there are exceptions to the exceptions. For example, in 1968 the American ship Pueblo was captured without much resistance by the North Koreans. Reaction at the time was mixed, as I recall.

So Mmericans quick to criticise the British Marines should be cautioned about the pitfalls of chauvinism. As an aloof observer, however, I question the wisdom of the hostage who said that resistance would have strategic implications and perhaps cost them their own lives. In fact, I think this kind of thinking is unprofessional and irrelevant.

On the other hand, I don't know what their superiors ordered them to do, if anything. Or what their training was in this regard. As a professional soldier, albeit retired, my focus is what reaction force, if any, was alerted to interrupt the capture of the sailors. Any soldier in a Western military force should know who's standing by to help them in an emergency. It seems to me that the failure to plan for such emergencies is a serious professional shortcoming.

The behaviour of the hostages while in confinement doesn't deserve much attention compared to the failure to challenge the hostage takers on their own turf, or in this case, surf. If contingency operations were was overlooked in the past, it's probably time to give them serious consideration now - which should apply to all the Coalition forces operation in Iraq.

Most of all, we should not hand the Iranians a victory by default. And accusing the fiften sailors of treasonous behaviour does exactly that.