Bloggers on Iran's capture of 15 British soldiers.

Bloggers on Iran's capture of 15 British soldiers.

Bloggers on Iran's capture of 15 British soldiers.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 23 2007 4:33 PM

Iran Hostage Redux?

Bloggers worry that Iran's capture of 15 British sailors could spark an international crisis. They're also grossed out by a Manhattan couple forgoing toilet paper for a year, and can't quite keep their powder dry about peremptory Englishmen in New York.

Iran hostage redux? A group of British sailors from the H.M.S. Cornwall were captured at gunpoint by Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf. The sailors had been inspecting merchant ships in Iraqi waters. Iran has taken British servicemen before and is claiming the Brits were in Iranian waters, but the latest provocation has many in cyberspace fretting.

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ET, an American living in Tehran, writes at View From Iran: "It's not the first time that Iran has detained British soldiers, but it is a particularly precarious moment to do so when any provocation could go further than Iran or the West would want. This was exactly our fear when we heard rumors of Iranian sailors leaving grafitti on American tankers or we imagined nervous, young soldiers getting itchy fingers as they were forced to keep still while smugglers zipped in and out of Persian Gulf waters."

Andrew Cochran at Counterterrorism Blog is full of questions: "Is this an intentional act approved by senior Iranian leadership in response to findings of the British personnel, or possibly in reaction to the upcoming U.N. vote against Iran? ... Is this a provocation similar to the Hezbollah seizure last year of Israeli soldiers, which led the Israelis into invading Lebanon, to test how the British and Americans move military assets in advance of armed action? Is this a calculated measure due to Iranian claims that the waters are, in fact, Iranian and not Iraqi (a 1975 treaty gave the waters to Iraq, but Iran disputes Iraq's jurisdiction)?"

The Catholic computer nerd at Time Immemorial asks: "Abduction of one nation's military forces by the forces of another nation, and this in a third nation which is neither the nation of origin of the abductors or the abductees, is an act of war…is it not?" Not really, says righty Allahpundit at Hot Air. It's bad timing, for one thing: "I figure they'll be released soon and the incident will be dismissed as a misunderstanding. Iran can't have meant to do this, not with Ahmadinejad set to address the Security Council tomorrow about the nuclear program and not to the British, who've been adamant in opposing any military action on Iran."

Read more about the Iranian hostages.

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Let's not shake on it: One couple on Lower Fifth Avenue in New York have made an extreme "No Impact" pledge, vowing to go a year eating only locally grown organic food and swearing off using transportation, creating garbage, or using paper—even toilet paper. (The husband's writing a book about extreme ecology.)

Matt at the Behavioral Ecology Blog is "an environmentalist, I try to conserve and be respectful of nature. I completely agree that human consumption vastly oversteps production, and that this is not sustainable. We are the primary cause of global working, contemporary mass extinctions, and most other bad things. There are MANY ways to go about changing things, ceasing to wipe you ass for an entire year is not one of them." JBert at group blog Gimme the Mic echoes the sentiment and thinks skipping the elevator does no favors to the environment: "The human body, like an elevator, is a machine requiring energy to perform work. We're not magic; there's no free lunch here. Converting glucose into the energy needed to climb a set of stairs produces carbon dioxide, which we exhale. More important, we get this glucose by consuming food that, in a typical American diet, requires a great amount of fossil fuel to grow, raise, and ship."

And Dan Tuttle at internationally minded The Global Buzz "still believe[s] that classical economics leads to the most efficient outcome for society: produce as much food as demand warrants at prices that are technically competitive. The darker side would include an analysis of the social costs imposed on the environment as a result of using fertilizers and pesticides and clearing land; this is where a cost-benefit shakedown with organics would be most useful. … If I'm making minimum wage in Detroit, I sure don't want to be paying an extra 50% for farmer's market produce."

Read more about the TP-less on Fifth Avenue.

Eat it, Sting: Vanity Fair writer A.A. Gill has written an essay on how British expats in New York are clubland snits with a sense of entitlement to beat the band, not to mention the check at the local pub. It's war in the Anglosphere.

In the comments section of The Daily Duck, Peter Burnet sighs: "Ah, the poor English remittance man. We don't see him much up here anymore, but we sure used to. Arguably he created Canadian nationalism single-handedly. The closest proximity today is the fellow with the florid face sitting beside you in the pub during the World Cup. He's been here thirty years without doing much of anything, but his accent is suddenly indecipherable and he watches with an intensity that turns pugnacious when any colonial has the temerity to express any opinion about anything. And yes, he is careless about whose round it is."

Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata read Gill's piece more in sorrow than in anger: "I have been to the city many times and saw this clubby sort of behaviour a few times. We Brits do not seem to realise how rude we can strike Americans. When I read of Americans being cut short at dinner parties or insulted by Brit tourists, I cringe, even though I tell myself that I am not responsible for the behaviour of my fellow countrymen and women. I feel much the same way when I overhear some idiot in Paris or Milan refusing to speak the local language and assuming that everyone speaks English rather than French or Italian."

Read more about Englishmen in New York.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.