Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why Iran Did It (Or, Bill O'Reilly is an asshole)

Bill O'Reilly is an asshole. I don't think I need to explain myself if you've seen this recent explosion of bloviating arrogance.

Of course, the reason O'Reilly exploded (besides being an asshole) is fairly obvious: the Bushies, the theo-conservatives, and the rest of the pro-torture right have been defending frequent US violation of the Geneva conventions on prisoners of war. It is therefore now impossible for the US to take the moral high ground against Iran. By torturing prisoners in US custody, the United States has been in frequent violation of Geneva. Granted, Iran has also been in frequent violation of International Human Rights law of all sorts, but that was never the point. Of course the Iranian government tortures people! They're the bad guys! That's what bad guys do! But the United States ceded the right to lecture other countries on following the Geneva conventions when its official policy became to openly and consistently violate the conventions. The United States has joined that list of nations that used to be known less than ten years ago in America itself as "the bad guys."

This is why O'Reilly exploded. He knows that all of the above is true, and that no amount of spin can get him out of the ideological hole he's dug himself. So the only thing he has left to do is pull out all the usual tricks - "You're blaming America!" "You're attacking America!" "You hate America!" and on and on - that have served him so well. People aren't buying it anymore, Bill. Your particular brand of bullshit went out of style in November of 2006. Get with the program. What Bill should really be angry about is the fact that the Bush administration has just handed all of its most vile enemies a huge propaganda victory. No longer can the United States condemn them with any credibility.

Iran definitely had a reason for this little diplomatic game. My theory at this point is that they knew they could embarass the hell out of the United States. Britain faced some embarassment itself, as it is generally thought that Britain is likely not capable of winning a war with Iran on its own, and this incident reinforced that perception. But the United States came away from this the far greater loser.

Throughout the standoff, no one seriously seemed to believe that this was going to escalate into a war because it is well known that the United States is in no condition to fight a war with Iran. It would certainly will militarily, but occupying the country is simply out of the question at least until Iraq has been dealt with, and even then it would likely prove impossible. If you think Iraq is particularly bad, you obviously haven't thought about the Vietnam-waiting-to-happen that is Iran, which is more than double the size of Iraq. So a military strike against Iran was never seriously on the table.

Moreover, the United States was alienated from the entire process. Its own flouting of the Geneva conventions was drawn out into the open when they started to lecture Iran about them. US credibility was futher hurt when the prisoners were released unharmed earlier today, unlike many of the prisoners in US care. Not only had it ceded its credibility on the issue of Geneva, but Bush and co.'s tough-talking stance was actually a set-back, according to the Brits. In other words, "Go away, George, you're not helping."

The Iranians never had any intention of provoking an incident. They simply wanted to watch Bush and Blair squirm for a few days, as well as make it clear that they are prepared to defend themselves if attacked. That's my theory, anyway.

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At 4/04/2007 6:25 p.m., Anonymous Colin Crolly said...

On the subject of Iran's reasons for doing this I wouldn't overlook internal domestic reasons. The hardliners are under pressure and any kind of conflict with the west plays into thier hands even if it is self created. Fortunatly they overplayed thier hand and it was not getting the needed response. So they released the sailors, again for domestic reasons, attempting to regain a moral high ground internally. They release is also to forstall any milage reformers could get out of the situation.

You are absolutly right about the American right's reasons for being upset although I would add one more reason. Kevin Drum posted it at and what he suggested is that the right is very upset that for the most part the British played it very calm. Quiet diplomacy won the day over bluster. That is something they cannot abide by.

At 4/04/2007 8:00 p.m., Blogger Psychols said...

Colonel Wright pretty much made O'Reilly look the fool. He had to cut off here mic when she asked how many years he had spent teaching the Geneva convention. Good stuff that.

It must be frustrating for Bill that American has yielded the moral high ground to the extent that she cannot even criticize a nutjob like Ahmadinejad over his treatment of British captives. Maybe he should have thought about this when he endorsed every US violation of the Geneva convention in the name of American security. Luckily other people did.

At 4/05/2007 12:30 a.m., Anonymous Manuel said...

Please read the Geneva convention before you blast someone in this case the states for mistreatment of POW's, The states hasn't detained anyone who actually qualifies under the Geneva convention guidlines, terrosts and armed thugs are not soldiers. It's failry descriptive of what counts as a soldier as well.

At 4/05/2007 4:09 a.m., Blogger Ryan Ringer said...

I love how people who defend torture and prisoner abuse always find some way to not have to actually defend it, like manuel here.

At 4/05/2007 8:55 p.m., Anonymous Manuel said...

thats the beauty of it all, theirs a scapegoat for everything, I don't support abuse at all but technically they aren't wrong either. but I also don't support the killing of civilians in the name of a higher power either....

At 4/06/2007 3:14 a.m., Blogger Ryan Ringer said...

"Technically" they aren't wrong? They torture people! That's not just technically wrong, it is permeated and defined by a kind of wrongness that until now, was unthinkable for a western democracy. No longer.

At 5/27/2007 2:06 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


Are you aware that the Geneva Conventions ONLY apply to uniformed combatants who are representing a state ?

Geneva does not apply to terrorists, since terrorists do not wear a uniform, nor do they represent a state.


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