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Quick Release Of American Sailors Shows The Value Of Diplomacy

Iranian And American Flags

Just hours before President Obama was set to speak before a Joint Session of Congress last night, an incident occurred in the Persian Gulf that could have escalated into a serious crisis when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized two American boats holding ten sailors who had allegedly drifted into waters the Iran claims as its own:

Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are detaining them on Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

The 10 American sailors aboard the small riverine vessels were on a training mission around noon ET when one of the boats may have experienced mechanical failure and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters, officials said. Iran’s coast guard took them into custody.

The officials said it’s unclear whether the sailors — nine men and one woman — had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.

American naval ships routinely navigate the waters of the Persian Gulf near Iranian territory. The Gulf has been a flashpoint in the Middle East, and the incident comes on the same day President Barack Obama was set to give his annual State of the Union address.

“At this point, we’re still monitoring the situation and it’s not entirely clear what happened,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on MSNBC, adding that Iranian authorities confirmed that the sailors are safe.

Earnest said there remained no exact time frame for when the sailors would be let go, but didn’t expect a long delay. Officials told NBC News that the Americans aren’t expected to be released until around daybreak Wednesday.

Following reports of the incident, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Iranian officials in Tehran by phone, attempting to secure the sailors’ release.

One senior official told NBC News the Iranians understand it was a mistake and have agreed to let the Americans go in international waters.

Senior U.S. military commanders had criticized Iran last month for its “highly provocative” actions when it fired unguided rockets near U.S. ships, including the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press that the boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when U.S. officials lost contact with them. Farsi Island sits in the Persian Gulf in between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is fortified by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Despite the fact that there was very little actual information available in the United States at a time that amounted to late at night in Tehran, the incident was quickly seized on by pundits and commentators in the United States who, of course, proceeded to comment on the matter despite the fact that it was clear that they didn’t have any better information than the average citizen did at the time. Senator Tom Cotton, for example, called the seizure of the boats ‘humiliating,’ called on the President to threaten to tear up the Iran nuclear deal unless the sailors were immediately returned. Senator Corey Gardner suggested that the State of the United Address itself should be postponed because of the incident, something that hasn’t happened since President Reagan postponed the 1986  State of the Union Address, which was originally scheduled to have been given on the day the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed minutes after launch. The reaction of many of the Republican candidates for President invoked similar rhetoric:

 

   

As it turned out, the ten soldiers were permitted to leave with their boats in the morning:

Iran on Wednesday freed 10 American sailors from two small Navy vessels that Tehran claimed strayed into Iranian waters, prompting their overnight detention as Washington opened direct contacts with Iran seeking their release.

A senior defense official, speaking in Washington, said the sailors were not harmed but would undergo medical evaluation and a debriefing in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Meanwhile, their vessels were taken by another American crew to Bahrain, their original destination and home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The release appeared to end a potential flash point as Iran and world powers move toward the possible next steps in a landmark nuclear deal that limits Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for the easing of international economic sanctions.

The detention also added to tensions in the Persian Gulf region amid the worst diplomatic unraveling in decades between Shiite power Iran and Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies. The feud — opened by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric earlier this month — has put Washington in the middle as it seeks to implement the nuclear deal while also backing its key regional partner, Saudi Arabia.

“Ten U.S. Navy Sailors safely returned to U.S. custody today, after departing Iran,” said a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “There are no indications that the Sailors were harmed during their brief detention.”

According to the Navy’s statement, the sailors departed Farsi Island, where they were held, at 8:43 a.m. GMT (3:43 a.m. EST) on board the same boats that were intercepted. They were picked up by Navy aircraft and transferred ashore, eventually ending up in Qatar, while other sailors took charge of the vessels, called riverine command boats, and continued to Bahrain.

A senior defense official, speaking in Washington, said the sailors were not harmed but would undergo medical evaluation and a debriefing in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Meanwhile, their vessels were taken by another American crew to Bahrain, their original destination and home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The release appeared to end a potential flash point as Iran and world powers move toward the possible next steps in a landmark nuclear deal that limits Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for the easing of international economic sanctions.

The detention also added to tensions in the Persian Gulf region amid the worst diplomatic unraveling in decades between Shiite power Iran and Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies. The feud — opened by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric earlier this month — has put Washington in the middle as it seeks to implement the nuclear deal while also backing its key regional partner, Saudi Arabia.

“Ten U.S. Navy Sailors safely returned to U.S. custody today, after departing Iran,” said a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “There are no indications that the Sailors were harmed during their brief detention.”

According to the Navy’s statement, the sailors departed Farsi Island, where they were held, at 8:43 a.m. GMT (3:43 a.m. EST) on board the same boats that were intercepted. They were picked up by Navy aircraft and transferred ashore, eventually ending up in Qatar, while other sailors took charge of the vessels, called riverine command boats, and continued to Bahrain.

The sailors will receive support to reintegrate with their unit, said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet. He declined to provide details on the identities of the 10 sailors, reportedly including one woman. Stephens said the Navy’s priority now is “determining … how exactly these sailors found themselves in Iran. And that’s something we’re going to be looking at.”

Iranian and U.S. ships often come within hailing distance in the Persian Gulf during patrols and maneuvers. The gulf is also the route for more than one-fifth of the world’s oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, which is jointly controlled by Iran and Western-ally Oman.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in a statement, expressed his “gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in quickly resolving this matter…. That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong.”

The incident, meanwhile, offered a test of new high-level channels opened during the nuclear talks between the two nations. Diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran soured after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, and they were formally severed in April 1980, five months after militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took Americans hostage.

For hours — even as President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address — messages passed directly between Iran and Washington instead of the intermediary nations used for decades. The exchanges included Kerry reaching out to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was Iran’s point man during the nuclear talks, said a senior U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kerry “made the case very strongly” to Zarif that the incident had stemmed from a mechanical problem aboard one of the boats and that they appeared to have drifted into Iranian territorial waters, the official said.

Zarif asked for more information about the incident, which the State Department later communicated to Iran. Zarif, the official said, “came back and said they were all safe and sound, that nobody was hurt,” and that Iran would “return them promptly.”

In other words, crisis was averted largely because the Secretary of State was able to talk directly to Iran’s Foreign Minister, who apparently wasn’t even aware of the incident at the time that he first spoke to Secretary Kerry but nonetheless was able to get on top of the situation quickly enough that rival factions within the Iranian Government, specifically the Revolutionary Guard, which controls the island where the sailors were brought, didn’t act in a manner that needlessly escalated the situation. In the wake of the quick release, some observers are crediting the Iran nuclear deal, or at least the working relationship it helped establish between Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif, with making it possible for the release to happen so quickly. In that regard, it’s worth noting that the nuclear deal itself is scheduled to enter its next implementation phase later this week, a fact which many are suggesting caused the Iranians to act as quickly as they did in releasing the sailors so as not to delay any further the beginning of the process that will result in the nation gain access to billions of dollars in currently frozen assets pursuant to the deal.

The fact that these sailors were released within less than 24 hours after they were taken into custody stands in stark contrast to past incidents in this area of the Persian Gulf, where Iran has jealously guarded its territorial claims, many of which are not necessarily recognized under international law. In 2007, for example fifteen British sailors who were searching a vessel in waters Iran claimed as its own were detained by the Revolutionary Guard for thirteen days before being released, an incident that seriously strained relations between Iran and the United Kingdom at the time. In other incidents, Iranian forces have fired warning shots at vessels they claimed were in Iranian waters and taken other aggressive steps to enforce their claims to waters that may or may not actually be valid. Compared to these incidents, the relatively swift release of the American sailors and their equipment, apparently in good health and good working order, stands as an exception to past Iranian behavior that could potentially be a sign that the situation in the Persian Gulf may be bit less tense in the future when it comes to incidents like this. Whether this is solely because of the nuclear deal, or a sign of less tense relations between Iran and the West is as yet unclear, but whatever the reason it’s certainly a welcome development that these sailors were released so swiftly.

None of this is to suggest, of course, that Iran has suddenly become a trustworthy actor on the world stage. Just as was the case in the wake of the final ratification of the nuclear deal, there is still much about the behavior of the Iranian regime, including the fact that it continues to back rogue nations like Syria along with terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, that suggests strongly that we need to be wary of Iran. The bellicose rhetoric of the mullahs toward Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other nations is also a cause for concern, especially since it is ultimately the Ayatollah Khameni, and not seeming moderates such as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is the decision maker when it comes to all Iranian policy. Additionally, Iran continues to hold Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian and other American on trumped-up charges such as espionage and their fate is something that the U.S. Government ought to be taking very seriously. Finally, as we saw just law week, the rivalry between Iran and long time U.S. ally Saudi Arabia threatens to turn the Persian Gulf into a global flash point yet again, something that would have profound implications across the world.

In addition to this well-founded doubts about Iran, the facts behind what happened yesterday remain somewhat unclear and deserve investigation. The Navy said early on that mechanical problems caused the boats to drift from their planned course, but it’s also not exactly clear if they were seized in clearly defined Iranian waters, or if the Iranians seized an opportunity to grab the boats in international waters to create an incident, which is something not out of question for the Revolutionary Guard. Presumably, there will be an investigation by the Navy now that the sailors are safe and it will be interesting to see what that uncovers. Additionally, while it appears the sailors were treated well while in Iranian custody it remains unknown if any of them were subjected to undue pressure, a suspicion that is now being raised in the wake of the release of an “apology” video made by one of the sailors while still in custody.

Despite all of this, though, and as both Daniel Drezner and Daniel Larison note today, all of the facts available to us indicate that this incident was resolved as expeditiously and as quickly as possible under the circumstances, and that we largely have diplomacy to thank for that. Or, as Larison put it:

In the absence of the deal and the diplomatic contacts that were created through the negotiating process, it is probable that it would have taken much longer to get the sailors released. This episode reminds us of the value of keeping open diplomatic channels, and that value only increases when it involves regimes with which the U.S. has generally poor and adversarial relations. If the U.S. and Iran had normal diplomatic relations, it is likely that more serious incidents and problems could be resolved in a similar fashion or even headed off in advance. Failing that, it would be folly to throw away the fruits of successful negotiations with Iran, and that is what Iran hawks insisted on in response to this easily-solved problem.

Restoring full diplomatic relations between the Islamic Republic and the United States would be an ideal outcome, but it’s likely to be one fraught with complications. Even with the resolution of the nuclear deal, there remain a whole host of issues between the two nations that would likely have to be resolved before an exchange of Ambassadors could take place, not the least of them being the long list of claims for monetary damages on both sides resulting from the break in diplomatic and trade ties in the late 1970s. The issue also carries an emotional resonance with it in the United States, of course, given the lingering memories of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. As this incident demonstrates, though, having open diplomatic channels is one way to resolve misunderstandings before they escalate into crises. Furthermore, while it’s true that there are many conflicting claims between the U.S. and Iran that need to be resolved, this has been true of many other nations in the past and this has not stopped us from having a full diplomatic relationship with the governments in question. Indeed, having that relationship could be the key to resolving those claims in the future.

It’s easy to understand why, for political and other reasons, the initial response of many people to yesterday’s reports about the seizure of two American patrol boats led to calls for an aggressive response. As we saw, though, using diplomacy to address the situation usually makes a lot more sense then an immediate aggressive response, even if it doesn’t play as well with the crowds. Or, as Winston Churchill once put it, it is better to jaw jaw than to war war, meaning that initial responses to international incidents should typically default to trying to resolve them through diplomatic channels rather than taking aggressive steps that threaten to inflame a crisis. If diplomacy doesn’t work, then obviously other options should be considered, but as we saw with this incident diplomacy is almost always worth the effort.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    In some of the most densely controlled waters of the world two tiny US river vessels manage to get in trouble over 80 miles off the coast, and just happen to get close to the one big Iranian base. I wonder what would happen if two Cuban armed vessels would be found just of Key West NAS. I guess our sailors got lucky that the Iranians didn’t use the Turkish method of dealing with intrusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  2. Jc says:

    A good example of why some patience is needed in today’s instant information, 24 hour news and internet age. The pressure to reply in the toughest hawkish language possible does no good to a situation really none of these guys knew much about to begin with and which just occurred halfway across the globe. Yet based on the limited information they were responding like the action was an act of war. It is kind of embarrassing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Seems as “some” folks are just appalled that one of the sailors has apologized for mistakenly entering Iranian waters. Personally I think that was the best course of action.

    I have to wonder what the immediate Iranian response might have been had the sailors only responded with name, rank and serial number. I’m not sure that the Iranians would have been as hospitable under that circumstance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Bear in mind that when President Trump faces a similar situation he will just instruct Vice President Cruz to carpet bomb Tehran. After confirming five million civilians dead what is left of the Iranian leadership will apologize and agree to build a wall in the gulf so this can never happen again.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. gVOR08 says:

    So several GOPs shot off their mouths (or twitter feeds) about Obama being weak and got proven wrong within hours. Think any of them will apologize? Think they’ll learn anything? Think the supposedly liberal MSM will take note? Think I’ll win the Powerball?

    @Bob@Youngstown: Don’t you have to be at war for Prisoner of War rules to apply? Of course I have no idea what legally being at war means anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. JKB says:

    @Mu:

    Well, the territorial limit is 12 miles. There seems to be little information as to how close the boats drifted to actual Iranian land.

    In addition, unless both boats were disabled, there was no distress as the operating boat could take the disabled on in tow. In any case, a proper response is not to capture a non-beligerant, but to render assistance, such as towing it out of Iranian waters to rendezvous with other US craft, tow it into an Iranian port until repairs could be made.

    The taking of the vessel, forcible search, reported theft of US government property (GPS units removed) which are controlled technology and as military equipment most likely contained classified codes to combat spoofing, etc., the public airing of video showing captured military members and the threatening of the USS Truman with shore and boat based missile system (rhetoric) are not how you handle a vessel in distress. As Iran has declared war on the US, the embarrassment of the “enemy” soldiers is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

    That said, given the weakness of the Obama administration, the diplomatic solution is probably for the best and should work until the Iranians get the frozen assets. The incident does show that there is no one organization in control of Iran and we should keep that in mind in our dealings with them.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 53

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    I’m sure the neocons and hawkish Republicans are really upset because the sailors and their boats were released in 24 hours and not a bomb was droped or a shot fired. No profit in that and so much for Benghazi II.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  8. Tyrell says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: It remains to be seen exactly what happened as the information starts to come out. It would seem that the sop is name, rank, serial number only. Giving any apology is highly inappropriate, especially to Iran; no matter what the circumstances. In any case, the wise course is not to escalate matters and get into something that gets out of control. We can look for more of these incidents with Iran. In any case, Secretary Kerry should give them fair warning to cut out the shenanigans and nonsense.
    “Apologize ? H ___ no !”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 27

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: @Tyrell:

    Looks like the two of you WANT a war.

    Are either of you going to actually sign up to fight it? Or are you going to remain the 101 Armchair Squadron?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 1

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Ron Beasley: I think they can go for Benghazi II. @JKB: and @Tyrell: are already bitching about trivia, which indicates the RWNJ intertubes are already lit up trying to find molehills they can try to make something out of. They didn’t have anything more to work with trying to make a mountain out of Benghazi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  11. humanoid.panda says:

    @JKB:

    The taking of the vessel, forcible search, reported theft of US government property (GPS units removed) which are controlled technology and as military equipment most likely contained classified codes to combat spoofing, etc., the public airing of video showing captured military members and the threatening of the USS Truman with shore and boat based missile system (rhetoric) are not how you handle a vessel in distress. As Iran has declared war on the US, the embarrassment of the “enemy” soldiers is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

    It’s really incredible how talking points spread from the top of the wingnut hierarchy to it’s mindless drones.

    For instance, this block of text was injected to JKB’s feeble mind by David French from the National Review, and here he is gladly doing his share for the greater glory of the conservative movement.

    Seriously, JKB: North Korean propagandists get paid to spread nonsense. Why would you do it for free?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2

  12. Steve V says:

    @JKB: Ha, yes a manly Republican would have done things more like our manly response to the Hainan incident.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. humanoid.panda says:

    More importantly than this nonsense, I think its worthwhile to look at this from a distance. In this instance, both the cable news media and the GOP were openly pining for this sailors to be taken hostage, and are visibly dissapointed about the rapid resolution of the crisis, the former because ratings and the latter because politics. This is the way we live in now, but the monstrosity of it is staggering.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  14. reid says:

    These Republican candidates are tough. Incredibly tough. How can we not vote for someone who’s so awesomely tough as they have shown? Wow, they are tough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  15. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    No doubt you have already been to the enlistment center as you are so anxious to fight. When do you report?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  16. Bookdragon says:

    Did the candidates watch a different SOTU? I recall the sailors and a nod to Kerry working on their release being mentioned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: Yes, they’re Chairborne Rangers.

    I do believe that the Republicans are sad that no one was killed. Because they always back the military. Way back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  18. dennis says:

    @JKB:

    I’m sorry, but you are asinine, blathering on in a narrative that is completely concocted in that otherwise empty head. Do you get headaches when you make up this stuff? Try to listen closely; reality is calling to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  19. dennis says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    Ah, thanks, h.p. I thought JKB just made up that stuff as he went along. Thanks for the correction.

    Now, I ought to apologize, but probably won’t under any circumstances …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  20. Mu says:

    @JKB: And btw, the primary mission of the RCBs is dropping commando type troops, I’d be really suspicious if I find a couple of them empty close to my base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  21. WR says:

    @JKB: “That said, given the weakness of the Obama administration, the diplomatic solution is probably for the best”

    Probably? As opposed to what? Bombing raids?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  22. WR says:

    @Tyrell: ““Apologize ? H ___ no !””

    If saying “I’m sorry” can prevent the escalation of hostilities, then why the “H” not? What does it cost to apologize?

    Did your mother teach you nothing?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  23. Bill Lefrak says:

    The Onion couldn’t do a parody blog headline this loopy and idiotic. You’d actually have to be retarded, or perhaps buried alive, deep within a brie and bric-a-brac cocoon, to think this way. Neville Chamberlain wouldn’t have been this dopey about not standing up to aggression and thanking one’s adversary as they remove the knife from your back.

    In related news: “High Arrest and Conviction Rates of Rapists Show Value of Women Not Escalating Attack Situations By Fighting Back”

    Or how about this one: “Quick Apology by Mistaken No Knock Search Officers Shows Value of Police Training and Protocols”

    It’s bad enough for the nation to have become on the world stage an effeminate laughing stock. This train of thought intimates that the decline into banana republic status is irrevocable. We’ve also quite obviously become an Idiocracy. It’s as if the 40% of the people who voted to reelect Carter have morphed into the majority. The ultimate denouement will be catastrophic. “Peace for our time” 2.0.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 39

  24. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: Thanks, but I didn’t say nothing about no war. I did say that we should not get into some sort of escalation over this, and we should
    warn Iran about this kind of stuff.
    We still have to see exactly what did happen. But the Navy may not give all the details out, and I would not expect any public statements from the sailors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  25. Barry says:

    @JKB: “In any case, a proper response is not to capture a non-beligerant, but to render assistance, such as towing it out of Iranian waters to rendezvous with other US craft, tow it into an Iranian port until repairs could be made.”

    Wow, you are ignorant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  26. Mikey says:

    @Bill Lefrak: So, genius, what should we have done? Do you have a solution preferable to negotiating the safe return of the sailors and their boats in less than a day?

    You conservatives want nothing more than to waste a few thousand more lives on another shamefully unnecessary war. None of that pussy talking stuff for you, no, for you assholes we have to go from zero to kill in two seconds flat.

    Tell you what, you get in line and volunteer, tough guy. I had my turn in the barrel and learned it’s the absolute last thing we should do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

  27. Slugger says:

    Not apologizing to Iran has some tradition. When flight 655 was shot down in 1988, the US did not apologize; I recall that George Bush, the elder, said that the US never apologizes. Whether this is wise or right is an interesting question.
    In my mind, the American tendency to respect physical might over diplomacy is hard to understand. In my lifetime, the record of America in military affairs, whether big (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq) or small ( Lebanon, Grenada, Mogadishu), is mixed. On the other hand diplomacy led to triumphant victory in the Cold War with the Russian flag now flying over less territory than since the time of Catherine the Great. Why not go with the stuff that wins?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  28. Tyrell says:

    Nancy Pelosi said that the nuclear “agreement” helped in the release of the sailors. Weird, bizarre. If that is the case then why not the other US citizens being held in Iran’s rat hole prisons ? What about them, Secretary Kerry ?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 20

  29. JKB says:

    @Barry:

    Perhaps the State Department was ignorant of Admiralty law back in the late ’90s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  30. JKB says:

    We can’t really complain about the commander’s apology. In Benghazi, Obama left a full ambassador to die. What real hope did they have as long as Obama was Commander in Chief?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 38

  31. Lounsbury says:

    @Bill Lefrak:
    You Americans have absolutely no bloody sense of history at all. A minor incident lasting a mere day around an island and a boat is not rising to the level of over-heated, utterly ill-informed WWII analogies.

    You bloody sad xenophobic shut-in provincial gits watch too many Action Movies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 1

  32. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Bill Lefrak: Carter got our hostages back from Iran, with the loss of 8 fine Americans at Desert One being an offsetting cost. Reagan, famous for his toughness, got 241 Americans blown up in Beirut and scuttled out of Lebanon a few weeks later, after blasting his critics for their lack of patriotism. We got nothing out of that latter situation, as I recall.

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  33. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: So the perfect is the enemy of the good?

    Interesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Bill Lefrak: How’s the weather on your planet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  35. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:

    Obama left a full ambassador to die

    Exactly the language Nikki Haley is referencing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  36. Mikey says:

    @Slugger:

    On the other hand diplomacy led to triumphant victory in the Cold War with the Russian flag now flying over less territory than since the time of Catherine the Great. Why not go with the stuff that wins?

    Because America is TOUGH and filled with TOUGH GUYS who have to be TOUGH and talking is for WUSSES and the only appropriate response to anything is to CARPET-BOMB someplace.

    (Is that a strawman? Oh, that we should be so lucky…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  37. Lounsbury says:

    @Tyrell:
    When you Americans start responding to various and sundry diplo demarches about foreign citizens in your sub-standard third–wordlish prison system, you’ll have a basis to whinge on about the Iranians and any of your citizens imprisoned under common criminal code.

    However, as you lot remain one of the worst about providing proper consular privs per treaty obligations (bilateral and multi-lateral), this is nothing more than gross and ignorant hypocrisy on your part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  38. dennis says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Oh, Lounsbury, you’ll never break through to the boors. Those tiny minds are already made up, because of American Exceptionalism. I appreciate, though, the outside look.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  39. Surreal American says:

    Boatghazi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  40. Pete S says:

    @WR: Wouldn’t you just love to live next door to one of these no apologies, no way types? What happens if their kid breaks your window, do they come over to your house and punch you in the face for not giving the ball back fast enough?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  41. WR says:

    @Pete S: The hilarious thing is that EVERBODY agrees the boats were in Iranian waters. We were in the wrong and there isn’t the slightest bit of ambiguity about it. Why in God’s name would we do anything BUT apologize?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  42. Franklin says:

    What’s hilarious to me is the desperate attempts to make this peacefully-ended situation seem like a bad thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  43. jewelbomb says:

    @Lounsbury: 2 comments in a row directed at “you Americans.” Painting with an awfully broad brush there, aren’t we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  44. David M says:

    @Franklin:

    What’s hilarious to me is the desperate attempts to make this peacefully-ended situation seem like a bad thing.

    As always: Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  45. Tyrell says:

    @Franklin: Bloomberg View puts it this way: “Secretary Kerry thanks Iran for resolving situation that it created”. This article discusses the various international maritime laws that govern jurisdictions. This could be the type of issue that will get varying legal opinions, with no clear idea as to who erred. It has also been stated that these small boats should have had some sort of protective escorts. How much of the facts ever come out remain to be seen.The images of US Navy sailors being treated like prisoners by Iran is disturbing. You can be sure some admiral will get canned for this one. I still have not heard if Iran returned the boats.
    I guess next week Secretary Kerry will thank Iran for not hitting our boats with their missiles.
    Too bad Admirals Nimitz and Halsey aren’t around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  46. sam says:

    Methinks that some motherfvckers upthread won’t be happy until we get into a shooting war. Of course, those warriors will neither shoot nor be shot at, but goddamn it’ll feel good to give those [insert enemies du jour] a taste of the old American steel, no? Oh, and, yeah, real Americans don’t support tax increases to fight wars. Taxes are for liberal pussies. Real Americans put wars on the credit card.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  47. James -P says:

    Col. Ralph Peters was completely correct in his description of Barry Hussein Soetoro.

    If we had a real president we would have levelled the Iranian oil facilities the second they released the hostages.

    If they release the hostages we should have sent in Seal Team Six to whack Khamenei, Rouhani, and Zarif.

    But, like I said, Col Raph Peters was completley correct in his assessment of Barry Hussein Soetoro.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 20

  48. WR says:

    @Tyrell: “The images of US Navy sailors being treated like prisoners by Iran is disturbing.”

    You know what would have been really disturbing? If Iran decided to try all these sailors for espionage. Which they could easily have done, and there would have been nothing we could do about it — because they were in Iranian waters.

    So yes, it’s perfectly appropriate — and the polite thing to do — to thank Iran for their cooperation.

    What the hell is your problem with this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  49. Grewgills says:

    @James -P:
    I cannot think of a response more stupid than this. Congratulations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  50. Scott says:

    @James -P: That is a parody, isn’t it. And BTW, it is LTC Ralph Peters, an embitters retiree who feels no one listens to him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. Mu says:

    @Grewgills: He got me to google “Col. Ralph Peters “.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your judgement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Franklin says:

    @Tyrell: Sorry, your response still failed to explain why it’s bad that nobody got hurt and the situation was taken care of in under 24 hours. Especially compared to what happened to the Brits a while back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  53. Tyrell says:

    @Franklin: That is a good point and I would agree with anyone that this is a lot better and a far cry from 1980. Iran is a large country and has a lot of well educated people and moderates: people who have some sense. Perhaps the images on tv of people burning effigies of the president and the US flag are the works of a small minority of the citizens there. We will see how things play out in the next few weeks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: Gross ignorance and hypocrisy is Tyrell’s middle name.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  55. al-Ameda says:

    @gVOR08:

    So several GOPs shot off their mouths (or twitter feeds) about Obama being weak and got proven wrong within hours. Think any of them will apologize? Think they’ll learn anything? Think the supposedly liberal MSM will take note? Think I’ll win the Powerball?

    Four observations:
    (1) None of those political midgets are going to apologize or admit that the situation was handled calmly and rationally.
    (2) Those midgets stopped ‘learning’ as soon as they realized ‘learning’ is controlled by the academic elite.
    (3) The so-called MSM is cowed by years of being painted as ‘biased’ by the ultra-biased right wing commentariat – maybe a couple in the liberal commentariat will note the success here.
    (4) I’m so sorry that you did not win the $1.5B powerball, however I do wish you much success in your future “investments” in Powerball.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  56. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: The “mainstream media ” is controlled – by powerful international financial organizations. The debates are controlled, scripted, and set up to divert peoples’ attention. Important events and alternative views are not reported. The main news networks are mostly political, slanted opinions and propaganda. I now get most news from local tv and am radio stations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  57. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: Why invoke mysterious “international financial interests”? Their corporate ownership, desire for ratings, and careerism are sufficient to explain their behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    The “mainstream media ” is controlled – by powerful international financial organizations. The debates are controlled, scripted, and set up to divert peoples’ attention. Important events and alternative views are not reported. The main news networks are mostly political, slanted opinions and propaganda.

    I guess one could consider Rupert Murdoch to be a powerful international financier.

    By the way, I’ve got to ask:
    (1) why do most conservatives NOT consider conservative media organizations to be “mainstream”?
    (2, why do most conservatives NOT consider conservative news networks and media outlets to be political, with slanted opinions and propaganda?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  59. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Well, I do consider conservative tv and newspapers to be controlled also, maybe even more so. Their owners and backers are the same organizations and groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1