Oddly, there have been numerous visits to this site from people using Google to search for terms such as “Royal Marines a Disgrace” and “Royal Marine Cissies.” According to firestats, most of these are from Americans.
This is a shame. It simply reinforces my ideas that people are already very, very polarised about the behaviour of the 15 sailors and marines. As I have said previously, the actions the 15 took were the right thing to do at the time. It is very easy for people from the comfort of an armchair in Washington (good old GeoMapLookup 🙂 ) to cast doubts on their actions. It is harder to accept the fact that these people were put in a very, very difficult situation and one in which surrender was the best option. Even people who have been taken prisoner in the past should know better. The fact other service personnel are criticising them is a sad indictment on the Armed Forces.
If we try to look at this logically, when the Pasdaran nutters turned up they had two choices. Open fire or surrender. If they had opened fire, they would have effectively declared war on behalf of the UK with Iran. When they surrendered, as far as they were aware, this would have been a minor, local, incident which could be cleared up quickly.
Much as it may offend the people baying for blood, the UK is not at war with Iran. This is important to remember because it guides a lot of the rule of engagement, and the processes which will have passed through the minds of the Royal Marine Captain and Royal Navy Lieutenant when the IRGC turned up. If it was a Royal Navy patrol which had strayed into US territorial waters, and the the USCG were ordering them to surrender, would they be expected to open fire?
Now, if they had opened fire on the IRGC what would have happened? The boarding party had rifles and pistols. Against them were 14.7mm HMGs, machine guns and RPGs. The boarding party were in rigid inflatable dinghys (RIBs) and the IRGC were in powerboats.
Seriously, who in their right mind can think anything other than the deaths of the boarding party would have ensued. In all probability, the merchant crew would have been pretty much cut up as well. Yes, maybe a few IRGC would have gone down — but so what? We would now be at war. The UK would be trying to justify the firefight. The Iranians, having killed all the Brits and probably the merchant crew, would be able to claim anything they wanted, the Iranians would be crying about violation of Iranian waters and high seas piracy etc. Is this what people wanted to happen?
Is western society so morally bankrupt that it is worth sacrificing the lives of our soldiers for the sole reason that they do not get put on Iranian TV? Are “we” so culturally retarded that we can not watch an Iranian show like this and not realise it is staged? For a while, I thought one of the main western criticism about Islam was the way fundamentalist Moslems sent their people out on suicide missions. It seems the west does the same, but we call our suicide bombers service personnel.
I am sure the military covenant between the people and the Armed Forces of the UK implies that they will not be made to sacrifice their lives unnecessarily. What value would there have been to resisting? The same argument applies when in captivity. What on Earth would they have gained by resisting and getting tortured more?
Over the weekend, I spoke to Heather on GAIM about this, which got me thinking. It seems that no matter what, the media, retired officers and the public are determined to vilify these 15 people. For all the conspiracy theorists out there, this could be a massive Easter present.
For everyone else, please let these people get on with their lives. What they did was not wrong. It was not a disgrace and they are certainly not cissies for it.