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Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 13:44:08 MDT Print View

Perhaps slightly unrelated topic,

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/09/23/iran.hikers/index.html

I don't know what i can personally do for these people, except to pray everything turns out well... know your bearings!

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 14:45:26 MDT Print View

I'm not even sure that they had to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians. They have a long, proud history of creative interpretation of their borders:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Iranian_seizure_of_Royal_Navy_personnel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Iranian_seizure_of_Royal_Navy_personnel

Edited by acrosome on 09/23/2009 14:56:15 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 17:16:45 MDT Print View

"I'm not even sure that they had to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians. They have a long, proud history of creative interpretation of their borders:"

Which were drawn by the British, at least in modern times, and almost never correspond with the ethnic/linguistic realities on the ground. It's been the cause of a lot of the horrific bloodshed that has occurred in the wake of colonialism's demise.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 17:48:54 MDT Print View

No argument, Tom. The British, via their UN mandates, screwed up the Middle East in a major way. They were trying to "divide and conquer" per se- keep ethnic groups divided into different nations, to weaken both the ethnic group and the nations.

Nonetheless, they are the borders that we all must live with, now. And Iran's government likes to snatch people from across the border to incite incidents. So how, precisely, do you find the origin of the borders to be mitigating?

(I'll not get started on how the West is currently collectively continuing the tradition begun by the British.)

Edited by acrosome on 09/23/2009 17:53:20 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 18:50:19 MDT Print View

"So how, precisely, do you find the origin of the borders to be mitigating?"

For all practical purposes, you don't. What's done is done, at least as long as the West is running the world. If that changes, you can be sure the Iranians, among others, will have historical documentation defining what the original borders were and will act accordingly.

"And Iran's government likes to snatch people from across the border to incite incidents."

It's a little more complicated than that. The Iranians are extremely sensitive about Westerners snooping around their current borders, and with good reason. There is an Iranian Kurdish guerilla force operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan(with the tacit support of Iraqi Kurds who in turn have support from the US-see below) that makes numerous forays into Iran, quite probably accompanied by Western intelligence operatives, for the purpose of fomenting unrest among Iran's restive Kurdish minority. Occasionally they are detected and people get killed, including Iranian border police. The Iranians, quite naturally don't like this and respond by shelling Iraqi Kurdish village that harbor the interlopers. THIS makes the news as proof that those evil Iranians are engaging in provocative acts. As I said, things are a little more complicated than that, but that is what is fed to the Western public. Part of what I view as preparing us for the next war in that tragic part of the world.

At the same time the US, and probably Israel, are continuously infiltrating intelligence teams into Iran in an effort to learn more about Iran's nuclear activities, including the locations of possible nuclear facilities in Iran's vast mountainous areas, heretofore unknown but whose existence is suspected. The Iranians are highly unlikely to have all their nuclear "eggs" in the Natanz basket and knowledge of these locations will be critical for non proliferation enforcement, or targeting if it comes to military action. Iran has complained vociferously about this, and the presence of US drones in their airspace, almost since we invaded Iraq. So, when some Western "students" who are studying Arabic in Damascus come wandering along an ill defined border(forget the line on a map for a minute) on a "holiday", what happened is not surprising. Remember also, conspiracy and paranoia are ingrained in this part of the world. I had a personal experience along these lines as a student in Baghdad in the mid 60's. When the 1967 war broke out, I ended up being the last American in Baghdad after the embassy staff and all other foreigners had been evacuated. Just before I was to leave, I got hauled in by the Mukhabarat for being friends with one of the few remaining Jews in the country and spent a very harrowing 2 or so hours being interrogated by a couple of guys whose attitude was: "Who do you work for, CIA or Mossad"? There was no presumption of innocence, no call to the embassy, and no right to a lawyer. These guys could have put one behind my ear and dumped me in the Tigris, and no one would have been the wiser. Luckily, they finally figured out that I was harmless and sent me on my way. In due time, the Iranians will send these kids on their way as well, I suspect. In the meantime they are pawns in a much bigger game and have only themselves to blame.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 19:27:00 MDT Print View

Again, Tom, no argument about any of that.

Nonetheless, the Iranians have a record of snatching people from across the border, then claiming that the snatchees had strayed into Iran. (Even when the snatchees are obviously British military members searching a dhow for contraband.)

Thus, I stand by my statement: "I'm not even sure that they had to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians." I don't think that is much of a stretch, Tom.

Did you hear me say that the Iranians don't have reasons to be paranoid? No, you didn't. Did you hear me say that the Mukhabarat are nice people? No, you didn't. (That's a hair-raising story, by the way.) So I'm not sure what you are arguing about, unless you are trying to establish your deep understanding of middle eastern realpolitik for some other reason. :o)

Not to mention that talking about all these agents that the US is sneaking into Iran is a bit disingenuous. If your point is that nobody is innocent, well, then NOBODY is innocent. After all, we have CAUGHT Iranian agents who sneaked into Iraq, and have proved that they were supplying Shi'ite militias with EFPs. (The point of contention is to what degree the Iranian government was complicit, because their military surely was.) So that one cuts both ways.

Incidentally, if you have any decent sources about these US intelligence agents in Iran (I mean, other than Al-Jazeera and the whacko liberal US fringe) I'd be interested in them. I should know more about the subject. I wouldn't be surprised to learn about ground reconnaissance being done, but I don't think I had heard about anything that was reliably confirmed.

>> So, when some Western "students" who are studying Arabic in Damascus come wandering along an ill defined border... on a "holiday"

Oh, come on, Tom. What's with the shock quotes? Are you saying that you believe that these kids are CIA agents or something? Like every other American who goes wandering around the middle east? :o) You suffered from that mindset on the part of Mukhabarat, so I'd be surprsed if that's what you are saying! So, what do you mean by the shock quotes?

Wow. This is flirting with another topic (like guns or abortion) that I really hate to get started on. Especially since I really don't know enough about the middle east to expound upon it intelligently. :o)

As I said, I simply maintain that they didn't need to stray into Iran to get snatched.

Edited by acrosome on 09/23/2009 20:37:27 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/23/2009 21:02:07 MDT Print View

"Nonetheless, the Iranians have a record of snatching people from across the border, then claiming that the snatchees had strayed into Iran. (Even when the snatchees are obviously British military members searching a dhow for contraband.)"

I presume you're referring to the incident in the waters just off the Shatt al Arab? The border in that area is still in dispute, not to mention that we and the Brits were, and still are, essentially in a state of low grade war with Iran. Bush had declared them part of an "Axis of Evil", frequently announced that "no options were off the table" and openly toyed with the idea of using tactical nukes to take out Iran's nuclear facilities. All of this in conjunction with material in my original post. Might the Iranian's have thought there was an ulterior motive? Like gathering intelligence? Probing defenses?

Contraband? By whose definition? One nation's contraband is another's legitimate trade.

"Thus, I stand by my statement: "I'm not even sure that they had to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians." I don't think that is a stretch, Tom".

That is if you were sure where Iran's border in that area begins in the first place. I didn't see the Brits opening a case in the Hague.

"So I'm not sure what you are arguing about, unless you are trying to establish your deep understanding of middle eastern realpolitik for some other reason."

Tut tut, Dean. You're letting your darker angels get the best of you again. Play nice. My point was to illustrate just how paranoid or, from their point of view justifiably suspicious, people in that region can be. I couldn't think of a better illustration than my own personal experience. Sorry, no ulterior motive.

"Not to mention that talking about all these notional agents that the US is sneaking into Iran is a bit disingenuous. If your point is that nobody is innocent, well, then NOBODY is innocent. After all, we have CAUGHT Iranian agents who sneaked into Iraq, and have essentially proved that they were supplying Shi'ite militias with EFPs. So that one cuts both ways."

There is one small difference: All of this is taking place on their borders. In the context of all I have mentioned in this post and the previous post, not to mention Iran's history with the West, it is hard for a Westerner to imagine just how threatened they feel. We have boots on the ground on their eastern and western borders, our navy lurks just off their southern border and in the Persian/Arab Gulf, with our close ally, Israel, champing at the bit to go after their nuclear facilities, as they did with Iraq and Syria. There is a world of difference between our offensive posture and attitude and their defensive posture. They will defend themselves against a vastly superior enemy at their gates with whatever means they can muster, EFP's, IED's, agents provocateurs, whatever. To equate their actions with ours is more than a bit disingenuous.

"Oh, come on, Tom. What's with the shock quotes? Are you saying that you believe that these kids are CIA agents or something? Like every other American who goes wandering around the middle east? :o) You suffered from that mindset on the part of Mukhabarat, so I'd be surprsed if that's what you are saying! So, what do you mean by the shock quotes?"

It isn't a matter of what I believe, Dean. Personally, I think they were a bunch of clueless twits out on a lark who decided to see how close they could come to the border without getting tagged. They miscalculated. The shock quotes, your term not mine, were meant to communicate how they were likely viewed by the Iranians, given the current situation, just as I was viewed by the Iraqi Mukhabarat given the situation in June, 1967, when America was believed by most Iraqis to be flying close air support for Israel. I probably should have spelled it out, but it would have taken longer and I figured you'd understand what I was getting at. Sorry I miscalculated. And, then, there's always the possibility that one or more of them were in fact working for some US intelligence outfit. Who knows? But, of one thing you can be sure, the thought definitely crossed the Iranians' minds.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 15:35:55 MDT Print View

Heck, Tom, as I said I know that the Iranians are paranoid. I will even readily grant that they have reason to be. You don't have to keep beating that drum, Brother. :o) I am NOT trying to Iran-bash.

Or are just saying that the Iranian government may be confused about where the border is, like everyone else? Because if so, I would propose that they are STILL acting belligerently and irresponsibly in seizing military members of another sovereign state under less-than-clear circumstances. The Iranians trained machine guns on another state's servicemen; the British patently did not point weapons at anybody in those incidents. Nor have the Western forces in and around Iraq and Afghanistan snatched Iranian citizens out of Iran, whether in an unclear border area or not. (I think. Pakistan is another matter...)

Yes, even the British admit that the border at Shat al-Arab is poorly or un-defined, but they also proved (using navigation data) that the British troops that got snatched in 2007 weren't even remotely in a position that could be interpreted as being in Iranian waters. Likewise with the almost identical incident in 2004. To their credit, though, both times the British admitted that the border is poorly defined and didn't make an issue of it. (And the Iranians still haven't returned the boat or weapons or other Crown property.)

And if the dhow was smuggling cars into Iraq, as was suspected, then yes, the Iraqis get to define it as contraband if they want to. That's how it works, Brother. :o)

>> They will defend themselves against a vastly superior enemy at their gates with whatever means they can muster, EFP's, IED's, agents provocateurs, whatever. To equate their actions with ours is more than a bit disingenuous.

Again you are flirting with a subject that I really don't want to talk about. It's like talking about guns or abortion- everyone just gets angry as hell and hurls invectives. But anyway- none of this in any way disproves or weakens my assertion that the Iranians snatch people from across the border. If you want to claim it as mitigating then fine. But mitigation implies that they do, in fact, snatch people from across the border. :o)

And suffice to say that speaking as the guy who gets to sew teenagers back together after an EFP takes off their legs, my viewpoint may be biased, I dislike the Iranian government intensely for that one. (Again, I won't get into my opinions of the past US administration, because it solves nothing and just leads to flaming.)

And you're right- Iran's' actions don't equate with the West's actions. They are different. But they equate enough to support my point that the Iranians are not perfect, innocent people either, and that thus listing all of the evils of the Western world does not justify the Iranians' actions. If (big IF) the West has reconnaissance forces on the ground in Iran then they are exactly that- reconnaissance forces, probably looking for nuclear capabilities. (ALL nations spy upon one another.) However, the Iranians sent agents into Iraq specifically to to KILL westerners. So you are correct, they aren't equivalent acts. But the Iranians come down on the worse side of that comparison. We are fighting wars within the borders of two of Iran's neighbors and we are talking tough with them. They are killing our soldiers through clandestine action. (Not that we haven't done similar things in other countries- just not this time...)

But none of this in any way disproves or weakens my supposition that these kids may not have even needed to be in Iran to get snatched. If you want to claim that everything you said is mitigating or at least explains that behavior on the part of the Iranians, fine. Go for it. I simply maintain that one does not need to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians. That's all I'm saying. Comment all you like about how misunderstood and set-upon the Iranians are- I stand by that very basic statement, Brother.

>> Tut tut, Dean... My point was to illustrate just how paranoid or, from their point of view justifiably suspicious, people in that region can be.

Actually, I was serious about that one. I wasn't trying to be snide, though I suppose I could have said it better, to whit: I wasn't sure if you meant to be an apologist for the Iranian snatching habit, or if you were denying the Iranian snatching habit, or if you were trying to make some other point entirely and I just wasn't getting it. I get your point about paranoia (remind me to tell you my story about "the elders from Ghaziabad" sometime). I guess I misinterpreted your motives for saying what you were saying, and sort of went off on a tangent that led to baiting back and forth a bit.

I understand that the whole region is tense and paranoid. I still don't understand how that weakens my off-the-cuff supposition that those hikers may not have needed to stray into Iran to get snatched. I honestly don't, Brother. If anything rampant paranoia on the part of the Iranians somewhat SUPPORTS what I'm saying.

Or are we arguing about two different things? After going back and forth about this for a while, I suspect that we might be. I think I'm arguing a very simple and direct opinion based upon observation of past events- i.e. that it is possible that Iranian forces snatched these kids from across the border- whereas you are arguing a much broader issue- i.e. that Iranians and their motivations are more complex than the comic-book villains that they are portrayed to be in the Western media. If this interpretation is accurate then I have to say that I think we are both correct. :o)

>> The shock quotes, your term not mine, were meant to communicate how they were likely viewed by the Iranians,

Ok, that's what I suspected. And for the record- the term "shock quotes" is an accepted phrase to describe quotes that are meant to imply that what they encompass is not true, or not believed by the writer. Thus I am proud that it was "my term"- and that I used it appropriately. :o)

P.S. Any reliable sources about Western forces in Iran? Seriously. I'm having trouble finding any that are remotely believable, but I SWEAR I heard something about it in the mainstream media at one point. I just can't find it. Maybe they were "reporting a rumor" or something...

Edited by acrosome on 09/24/2009 16:26:18 MDT.

Nicholas Jensen
(attack5) - F - M

Locale: Murderapolis
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 16:16:14 MDT Print View

Tom,

Where I am currently located, a little thing called the Iran/Iraq war resulted in the border issues we face today including these two countries having border forts across the lines. Hilarity ensues when they get bored.

And for history buffs, Iran just celebrated the anniversary of the beginning of the War on 22 Sep.

The bottom line was these kids thought they could do what they wanted, instead of being intelligent American citizens and investigating routes while incorporating guidance from an embassy, they jumped right in, got snatched, and already over-worked Army staffs and soldiers on the ground were pressed into working on it.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 16:27:25 MDT Print View

Dean Said:
The British, via their UN mandates, screwed up the Middle East in a major way. They were trying to "divide and conquer"

What's with the shock quotes Dean? ;-)

For the record, the Middle east was Divvied up between the British and the French in 1918.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Middle_East
"The British and French governments concluded a secret treaty (the Sykes-Picot Agreement) to partition the Middle East between them and, additionally, the British promised via the Balfour Declaration the international Zionist movement their support in creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine."

No argument from me that they screwed it up however.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 16:31:42 MDT Print View

>> The bottom line was these kids thought they could do what they wanted, instead of being intelligent American citizens...

Yeah, no kidding. This is essentially the first thing I thought when I heard about it, too. Who goes hiking near the Iran/Iraq border? Seriously? These kids and their families have my empathy, but not my sympathy. Or do I have that backwards? Heck- you know what I mean.

EDIT--

>> What's with the shock quotes Dean? ;-)

Exactly that- I do not think the division led to conquering. Thus, the shock quotes signify my disbelief in the enclosed phrase. I had taken umbrage with Tom's usage because I had mistakenly thought that he was denying that the kids involved were just innocent students, and thus implying that they are CIA agents or whatever other nonsense the Iranians are spouting.

They have other names, like "scare quotes" or "derision quotes." But, as a point of order- not all quotes are shock quotes, as I have just demonstrated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes

Hi, Rog. Big hug!

Edited by acrosome on 09/24/2009 16:47:42 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 16:32:48 MDT Print View

"Hilarity ensues when they get bored."

Yup. But everybody stopped laughing real quick back in the 80's.

If you're located where I think you're located, I'll bet we'd have a lot to talk about, Nicholas. It's been 42 years for me now, but the Iraqis haven't changed a bit deep down inside. A people whose character and outlook has been formed over 6-7 thousand years are pretty hard to transform.
We're just the latest to try and we're already on our way out of the door. Keep your head down, buddy.

As for those kids, I couldn't agree more. A couple of years in Ezvin or similar accomodations should do wonders for their judgment.

BTW, do you happen to know Sam Stolzoff?

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
MODERATOR... please... on 09/24/2009 17:09:39 MDT Print View

... move to Chaff.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 17:30:34 MDT Print View

Whew! Rog was uncharacteristically brief. When I first saw his post pop up I thought the two of you were going to gang up on me. :)

"Or are just saying that the Iranian government may be confused about where the border is, like everyone else? Because if so, I would propose that they are STILL acting belligerently and irresponsibly in seizing military members of another sovereign state under less-than-clear circumstances. The Iranians trained machine guns on another state's servicemen; the British patently did not point weapons at anybody in those incidents."

Yeah, you could term it confused. I'd tend to say they disagree with the Western powers who defined it for them. In any case I'd say, given the current state of hostilities, that the Brits were the ones who acted irresponsibly by pushing into an ill defined border area, especially over such a trivial matter as a dhow carrying cars. Or was that really the reason they were there? I'm not trying to be an apologist here, Dean, merely trying to point out how the Iranians may have interpreted British actions. They have a lot of sensitive facilities in that area. They aren't the first to react that way to Western probing of sensitive areas. The Pueblo and the recent incident with China off Hainan come to mind, not to mention the Israeli strafing of an American destroyer in international waters during the 1967 war, resulting in multiple US fatalities, an incident that was quickly swept under the table I might add.

"Yes, even the British admit that the border at Shat al-Arab is poorly or un-defined, but they also proved (using navigation data) that the British troops that got snatched in 2007 weren't even remotely in a position that could be interpreted as being in Iranian waters. Likewise with the almost identical incident in 2004. To their credit, though, both times the British admitted that the border is poorly defined and didn't make an issue of it."

Navigation data can be fabricated, just like any other data in the digital age. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I think the larger point, in both cases, is that the Iranians are trying to send a message that says keep the he$$ away from sensitive areas, or pay the price. That we haven't sent a message in return points to the precariousness of our position in both Iraq and Afghanistan and our reluctance to push things to a boiling point. The Iranians could make things close to untenable in both countries. The same goes for EFP's, IMO. They are sending a message about the cost of invading them or attempting regime change. Notice they have not allowed EFP's to be used enmasse in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Just an occasional reminder, so to speak, not to mess with them.

"And if the dhow was smuggling cars into Iraq, as was suspected, then yes, the Iraqis get to define it as contraband if they want to. That's how it works, Brother. :o)"

Fine. Shadow the dhow and let the Iraqis seize it when they try to offload. Why make the interdiction in a sensitive, contested area, using military personnel of a power even more detested by the Iranians than the US, if that's possible?

"Again you are flirting with a subject that I really don't want to talk about. It's like talking about guns or abortion- everyone just gets angry as hell and hurls invectives."

It doesn't have to be that way, Dean. Actually, I'll confess to you that I do have an ulterior motive in spending significant time on this discussion. It is my belief that the conflict in which we find ourselves embroiled in West/South Asia is going to be a critical issue in determining whether the US continues to be a dominant force on the world scene, mostly for the better, or fades into impotence as it fritters away precious blood and treasure in an unwinnable conflict. In a democracy, it is up to the people to hold their leaders accountable, and the American people have not done that on this supremely important issue, out of a combination of ignorance, apathy, and swallowing the outright lies of those who would conceal the true reasons for our policies. I think the conversation that we are having here should be broadened to cover all the issues in play and should also be taking place across the country, before it is too late. Please take what I say in that spirit. I am not trying to out debate you, that would be futile.

"And suffice to say that speaking as the guy who gets to sew teenagers back together after an EFP takes off their legs, my viewpoint may be biased, I dislike the Iranian government intensely for that one."

Who better qualified than you to speak on the horrors of war but, if you truly want to end it all, address those who send our best and bravest on a fool's mission, to die and be maimed, or return to civilian life with memories of what they have seen and done that make it difficult, if not impossible, to be decent citizens, let alone husbands and fathers. My best friend did his residency in psychiatry, specializing in chemical dependency, at the VA hospital here in Seattle back in the early 2000's. Most of his patients were Vietnam vets who, 40 years later still couldn't do enough alcohol or drugs to make the dreams go away. Just as he left, the first harvest was coming in from the Middle East...How do you sew up a mind, Dean? And there are hundreds of thousands of them coming out of this conflict.

Edited by ouzel on 09/24/2009 17:44:39 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: MODERATOR... please... on 09/24/2009 17:33:33 MDT Print View

"move to Chaff"

No problem, Dave, as long as I get to finish my post.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 18:29:00 MDT Print View

"And you're right- Iran's' actions don't equate with the West's actions. They are different. But they equate enough to support my point that the Iranians are not perfect, innocent people either, and that thus listing all of the evils of the Western world does not justify the Iranians' actions. If (big IF) the West has reconnaissance forces on the ground in Iran then they are exactly that- reconnaissance forces, probably looking for nuclear capabilities. (ALL nations spy upon one another.) However, the Iranians sent agents into Iraq specifically to to KILL westerners. So you are correct, they aren't equivalent acts. But the Iranians come down on the worse side of that comparison. We are fighting wars within the borders of two of Iran's neighbors and we are talking tough with them. They are killing our soldiers through clandestine action."

Of course they're not perfect. Or innocent. Evil doesn't really enter into this, IMO. At least not in the first instance. As regards Western evils, more like Western arrogance and mistakes. Nothing gets permanently resolved by violence in this part of the world. It just perpetuates the cycle. And neither Iraqis, Iranians or, most especially, Afghanis, make very good pets. as we're finding out. As for the Iranians killing Westerners, it's highly likely that we have killed Iranians IN Iran by supporting separatist Baluchis in the southeast, who do kill Iranians, as well as smuggle heroin into Iran. No proof, just things I hear and read which make sense in the current context. Other than that, bleeding us there makes it more difficult to muster the wherewithal to invade them, a threat not to be discounted when we've already verbally targeted them and taken down a neighboring member of the "Axis of Evil". Not to mention there is a substantial Iranian population living in Iraq, as well as numerous pilgrims visiting the Shia' holy sites. How many of them have been killed as a result of this war? Revenge is part of the code in that part of the world.

"I simply maintain that one does not need to stray into Iran to get snatched by the Iranians."

We've already established that the border is ill defined and highly sensitive at this time.

"I guess I misinterpreted your motives for saying what you were saying, and sort of went off on a tangent that led to baiting back and forth a bit."

All part of the conversation. I quite enjoyed the exchange.
I told you in a previous thread that we would communicate better the next time around. :) (a big one)

"may not have needed to stray into Iran to get snatched."

Now that's a much more reasonable way to state your proposition.

"If anything rampant paranoia on the part of the Iranians somewhat SUPPORTS what I'm saying."

There's an old saying, Russian I believe, that seems appropriate here: "I'm not paranoid; I'm right"

"i.e. that it is possible that Iranian forces snatched these kids from across the border- whereas you are arguing a much broader issue- i.e. that Iranians and their motivations are more complex than the comic-book villains that they are portrayed to be in the Western media. If this interpretation is accurate then I have to say that I think we are both correct. :o)

No argument here. I like words like "may" and "possible" when discussing ill defined borders. It's entirely possible that they did it on purpose for any of a number of reasons, given what been going on in that area ever since we invaded. And, yes, as I admitted above, I have a broader agenda.

" for the record- the term "shock quotes" is an accepted phrase to describe quotes that are meant to imply that what they encompass is not true, or not believed by the writer. Thus I am proud that it was "my term"- and that I used it appropriately. :o)"

I was heretofore unaware of the term. Thanks for the update. It will definitely impact my use of quotes in future.

"P.S. Any reliable sources about Western forces in Iran? Seriously. I'm having trouble finding any that are remotely believable, but I SWEAR I heard something about it in the mainstream media at one point." I came across it in an article several years ago by Seymour Hersch in the New Yorker(he's the only writer I have ever found of interest in that mag). He is unusually well connected to reliable sources and, when he writes on the Middle East, is well worth reading. Also incidents have been reported where Iran complained about infiltrators inciting unrest among both the Baluch minoity in southeastern Iran, as well the equually restive Arab population in West central Iran on the Iraqi border. Again, this is not definitive but makes eminent sense in context. Both areas offer fertile ground for both intelligence work and destabiliztion of the regime. True? who knows? But definitely plausible. It would be well worth your while to "Google" Hersch and read his articles on Iraq, going back at least to 2003. Interesting reading and a starting point for further investigation.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hiking went wrong in Iraq on 09/24/2009 18:46:40 MDT Print View

>> Whew! Rog was uncharacteristically brief. When I first saw his post pop up I thought the two of you were going to gang up on me.

Don't worry. Rog and I never agree, out of principle. It keeps us sharp.

And, as long as we are no longer arguing my point that the kids could've been snatched from across the border, and since you have expressed an interest in debating these incidents further:

>> Yeah, you could term it confused. I'd tend to say they disagree with the Western powers who defined it for them.

First, another point of order- one could argue that the West did not impose that border upon Iran and Iraq. As I understand it Iran and Iraq did (to the extent that they bothered to define it) in the 1975 Algiers Accord that ended the war.

>> Or was that really the reason they were there?

Your innuendo falls flat here, Tom. I'm far from a British apologist but, again, the Brits didn't point weapons at anyone. And since we're wildly speculating, her...
If they were up to no good then why didn't the British flee when they saw the Iranian gunboats coming? Why didn't they resist the seizure of their personnel with their helicopters? For that matter, if the British were trying to infiltrate Iranian territory why on Earth would they choose to do so with such patently non-elite and essentially unarmed and utterly ill-equipped personnel? In broad daylight? Why did the Cornwall not warn off the Iranians, but rather inform their own personnel not to be provocative? If the Iranians weren't trying to stage an incident then why were they so speedy and enthusiastic about publicizing the whole thing? Why didn't they try to confront other more heavily armed vessels that had been operating in the area for years, rather than waiting for some basically unarmed RIBs? (On both occasions.) And why NOW, suddenly? Such searches had been conducted for years. The Iranians did NOT send messages to the British to assert their sovereignty and instruct them to stop the searches in this disputed region- they just came in one day with gunboats and snatched people involved in law-enforcement duties.

>> Shadow the dhow and let the Iraqis seize it when they try to offload. Why make the interdiction in a sensitive, contested area,

Why NOT search the vessel at sea? You can't shadow it forever. Searching at sea allows one to search far more craft much more quickly, and thus with less personnel committed to the effort. And such compliance inspections are commonplace and routine. And again, why did the Iranians suddenly decide one day to come screaming in and snatch people? Why were so MANY gunboats so near- when usually they operate spread out over a very large area. And why kidnap the personnel? The usual, accepted procedure in situations where another sovereign's military vessels have strayed into one's territorial waters is to warn them off. No such attempt was made. So why take them into custody and make such a public spectacle of it all?

As I said I am far from a British apologist, but I propose that the Iranians more than likely had the ulterior motive, here, not the British.

>> address those who send our best and bravest on a fool's mission, to die and be maimed,

Yes, that is sort of the point that I demurred on addressing when I mentioned the "prior US administration" a while back. My views on this may surprise you, but I'm simply not going to start THAT flame war. Because even if WE agree, we will simply incite some rabid individual with a contrary view. It is pointless.

EDIT---

Ok, Tom, you double-posted on me. Play nice.

>> No proof, just things I hear and read which make sense in the current context.

Well, sorry, that simply doesn't sound terribly convincing. If the West were arming Iranian Kurds and Baluchis that would be an incredibly provocative act. OTOH, Iran tends to interpret ANY aid to Kurds as military aid, which is absurd. Do they want us to stop helping Iraqi Kurds rebuild northern Iraq? What? In fact the US has been trying to convince the Iraqi Kurds to STOP supporting insurgents in Turkey and other neighboring countries. (It gets embarrassing when two of your allies are killing one another.) I doubt that, given current tensions, we are handing out Stingers to the Baluchis.

>> We've already established that the border is ill defined and highly sensitive at this time.

True. But the Iranians interpret the ill-defined area as being totally theirs. They have no sense of compromise on this. And, again, the British weren't pushing the issue in the ill-defined area. They were pretty well away. The Iranians were being provocative. (See my rant, above.)

And, again, that cuts both ways, Tom. Why were the Iranians playing games in such a sensitive area? Seizing British military members is a hell of a lot more provocative than searching a dhow.

(And incidentally, I was never talking about good and evil, here.)

>> Revenge is part of the code in that part of the world.

Does the fact that it is a tradition make it right? Of course not! I find any callous disregard for life inherently repugnant.
Sorry. I had to degenerate into a smug American for a second, there. And, of course, my views are colored by living in a society where almost anyone can expect not to starve, and to live a long life.

>> Now that's a much more reasonable way to state your proposition.

That is PRECISELY how I stated my position, Brother. Several times. :o) The first time was a bit flippant, I admit, but when it became contentious I clarified it immediately. I'm sorry I had to beat that same drum over and over (and over) before I made it clear what I was saying...

>> Also incidents have been reported where Iran complained about infiltrators inciting unrest among both the Baluch minoity in southeastern Iran, as well the equually restive Arab population in West central Iran on the Iraqi border.

I take a contrary view, in the context of a government that tends to characterize ANY internal dissent as the work of "Yankee Devil Provocateurs." One can only cry wolf so many times... :o) Witness their recent mass election protests. Sorry, but the CIA simply isn't that competent...
And, what difference does it make what Iran "complained" about? Show me a Stinger, or a western body. Knowing what little I know about intelligence work and the military, I find it HIGHLY unlikely that we could have anyone doing such blatant provocation in Iran since 2003 and NOT had one of those operations go pear-shaped in a messy and massively public way to date.

As I said, I am far from an Iran-basher. And I found W's attitude toward Iran to be puerile. (Though it also says something that Obama, who made a big deal about his plans to re-engage with Iran during the election, has cooled off on it somewhat.) But on these snatching issues I think that the Iranians are being intentionally provocative, aggressive, and irresponsible.

I'll read your reference, though. More later...

Edited by acrosome on 09/24/2009 21:23:36 MDT.

Bob Kiley
(Wuleebear) - F

Locale: Mtn's of Western North Carolina
Hiking went wrong.... on 09/24/2009 19:16:29 MDT Print View

I really don't really understand this posting on Backpacking Light. Am I missing the point or is this way off the subject of BACKPACKING...

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Hiking went wrong.... on 09/24/2009 19:20:54 MDT Print View

Yes.

But, actually, the OP should have probably been in Chaff to begin with.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Hiking went wrong.... on 09/24/2009 19:50:26 MDT Print View

"But, actually, the OP should have probably been in Chaff to begin with."

True. But I'd still like to thank you and Tom for a truly enlightening and wonderfully interesting discussion.