So what’s next? Photoshopped pictures of them playing with dolls?

I’m reacting to this, which David Frum reTweeted yesterday:

Assuming this is for real and not some right-wing hoax, I’ve gotta say to the Iranians, Really, guys? Don’t you think you’ve wrung enough out of the “humiliating the Great Satan” shtick? Do you really want everybody in this country to hate the nuclear deal?

21 thoughts on “So what’s next? Photoshopped pictures of them playing with dolls?

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Didn’t a bunch of guys get court-martialed, imprisoned, and dishonorably discharged for all that?

          Pretty sure the Iranian government isn’t looking at this as a “scandal”.

          1. Doug Ross

            “Pretty sure the Iranian government isn’t looking at this as a “scandal”.

            Did our military look at it as a scandal before the pictures were published? Ignorance, apathy, or acceptance?

            From Wikipedia:

            The administration of George W. Bush attempted to portray the abuses as isolated incidents, not indicative of general U.S. policy. This was contradicted by humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. After multiple investigations, these organizations stated that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were not isolated incidents, but were part of a wider pattern of torture and brutal treatment at American overseas detention centers, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. There was evidence that authorization for the torture had come from high up in the military hierarchy, with allegations being made that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had authorized some of the actions. Rumsfeld himself said: “These events occurred on my watch as Secretary of Defense. I am accountable for them.”He offered his resignation to President Bush in the wake of the scandal, but it was not accepted.

            Bush begat Cheney begat Rumsfeld begat torture. Nobody in the family tree suffered for it.

              1. Doug Ross

                Not enough to get rid of anyone at a high level. Military scandals are not like regular scandals.

                If O.J.Simpson was in the Army, Kato Kaelin would have gone to jail.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Military scandals are not like regular scandals.”

                  Well, that’s true, if what you mean that people are held to a higher standard of behavior than in civilian life.

                  The purpose of any investigation in a society based on laws (and that would include the Uniform Code of Military Justice) is to punish the people who did something wrong — not to have a show trial to make a political point. And yes, that includes anyone in a position to know about the crime (a better word than “scandal”) who failed to stop it.

                  The difference is that in the military, anyone even peripherally involved will have the taint in his personnel records for the rest of his career — which is likely to be fairly short.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Jeez. You sound like Obama’s response to ISIS chopping people’s heads off, killing gay people, and enslaving girls: Don’t forget about the Crusades, y’all, because that was bad, too.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I’ve always thought that was a very confusing phrase.

                  Does it mean, as some assume, “I’ll support whatever my country is doing, whether it’s right or wrong?”

                  Or (and this seems more likely to me), does it mean. “It’s my country, and I can’t turn my back on it. If it’s right, I’ve got to back it all the way. If it’s wrong, I can’t just sit still; I have to try to address the problem. I don’t have the luxury of shirking responsibility, either way.” And, in that scenario, I can’t just stand away from it and criticize as though it has nothing to do with me, as some might do. I have to engage constructively.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wow, could you come up with something that’s MORE of a non sequitur? That’s kind of the opposite. You show me something everyone in this country roundly condemned, which our government would FAR rather never saw the light of day, and compare it to deliberately putting out humiliating photos because you WANT the world to see them?

      Also… nobody did anything to make this guy cry. This is “Look at the American baby man!” It’s not, “Look at the awful thing we did to this guy.” It’s about HIM crying, not what was DONE to him.

      The two things could not be more different.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Seriously, if you MUST (and I know you must) engage in the cliche of “America is just as bad as other countries, if not worse,” could you at least do it in a way that involves a relevant comparison?

        The thing that was wrong here was that Iran put out this picture, not that they made the guy cry — putting out such images just isn’t helpful when we’re trying to build better diplomatic relations.

        I was also sharing it in the sense of appreciating the absurdity of it, hence my headline. Like, showing them on their knees wasn’t quite enough. Really? Come on, guys…

      2. Doug Ross

        I didn’t say we are as bad as the Iran government. I was responding to your statement ” Do you really want everybody in this country to hate the nuclear deal?” Do you think those Abu Ghraib photos HELPED in our attempts to win over people who already hate us? No matter if some low level grunts got courtmartialled?

        We’re not as bad as them but we’re not Ivory Soap pure. We kill innocent people. We torture people. We spy on our friends, enemies, and citizens. We use information to embarrass our enemies. Remember the whole “Khaddafi is wearing a dress” meme?

        No, really, our CIA doesn’t engage in any activities meant to bring dishonor to our enemies. Never.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      This inspires me to cast another military-cliche movie.

      In this one, I’m Sgt. Foley and Doug is the officer candidate: “Where you been all your life? Listenin’ to Mick Jagger music and badmouthin’ your country, I’ll bet!”

  1. Phillip

    Much ado about nothing, which is why you mostly only see this posted on right-wing US media, such as the Washington Free Beacon (from which Frum retweeted it) or the NY Post. So a sailor shed a few tears, big deal. It’s only a big deal if we consider it such.

    Also, in the US we tend to have this view of “Iran” as this kind of monolithic entity in which (we think) the Supreme Leader says “make it so” and that order is followed all the way down the line. The same with Iranian “state media.” There are players over there who no doubt would love to keep sticking it to “the Great Satan” and others who would not—Brad wondered if they wanted “everybody in this country to hate the nuclear deal,” and truth is, there are certainly powerful elements in the Iranian government who want exactly that, who want no part of any “detente” with the US and who would be just as happy if the next US President came in and scuttled the deal. You just can never be sure who’s pulling the lever for this or that occurrence over there.

    I was reminded of this recently because of the experience just a few months ago of some good friends, a well-known American string quartet that was all set to do a really special cross-cultural series of concerts in Iran with a prominent Iranian musician. It had been in the works for months, with the Iranian Ministry of Culture completely onboard with the project, lots of cooperation all over the place it seemed. Special visas were procured, all was ready. But less than 48 hours before their flight from Rome to Tehran, my friends learned that the whole project had been canceled, and it was all just because a turf war within Tehran—higher-ups from the Revolutionary Guard felt like the Iranian musician was getting too much good press from his plans for these concerts with Westerners, and they wanted to stick it to the Ministry of Culture and any kind of feel-good initiatives those guys were contemplating.

    Anyway, in a relationship as complicated as ours with Iran is necessarily going to be in the months and years ahead, as provocations go, this one has to be seen as just so much background static.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yep, it’s complicated.

      And even as I posted it, I thought of how people in other countries fail to understand that what they see on American media does not in anyway reflect state policy.

      But still — someone released or leaked these, and since this was such a high-profile case, I doubt that just ANYONE had access to the sailors. In any case, I thought it was interesting.

      I mean, you know, we’re TRYING to be friends with y’all and all…

  2. Harry Harris

    It’s amazing to me the careless way we make propaganda out of propaganda. Sometimes we need to look, think, and shut up rather than trying to advance whatever political point we need to make by promoting and exaggerating something a shady source (like the Iranian military) puts out.

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