I believe that the ten U.S Navy sailors arrested by Iran on Tuesday had been ordered to surrender and to cooperate with their captors.
I believe that because it is the only logical possibility that remains, once the dubious claims being made by the Obama administration are eliminated.
The Obama administration claims that there was some kind of malfunction on the two riverine boats, that the sailors accidentally entered Iranian waters, and that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) kindly rescued them, proving the fruits of our new post-Iran deal diplomacy.
A simple map reveals the absurdity of that claim.
The sailors were heading from Kuwait to Bahrain along the Saudi coast, i.e. traveling south-southeast (red). To reach Iran’s territorial waters (the dotted line, above, near the Iranian coast–the heavier dotted line in the middle of the Persian Gulf is the continental shelf), they would have had to travel–or “drift,” if disabled–east (orange) for dozens of nautical miles.
If the boats lost communication with the Navy, why did the Navy not search for them? If they could not communicate, how could they know that the approaching Iranians were there to help? And do rescues normally involve kneeling on the deck at gunpoint?
(Update: CNN’s Barbara Starr has just reported that the territorial waters in question were the three-mile limits around Farsi Island, located approximately at the center of the continental shelf bulge above between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Starr adds that the U.S. Navy did attempt to launch a search-and-rescue operation, and told the Iranians they were doing so, but that the Iranians surprised them by seizing the boats and the sailors–hardly a helping hand.)
Furthermore, the U.S. Navy Code of Conduct demands a commitment of each and every sailor: “I will never surrender of my own free will…If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available…When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give only my name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.”
Yet the sailors appear not to have resisted capture, and appear to have offered a televised apology to Iran for their alleged “mistake,” violating the Code.
Either the sailors broke the rules, or they were obeying orders to behave as bizarrely as they did.
I believe the simplest explanation is that the Iranians approached the U.S. Navy boats in international waters, that the sailors asked higher-ups for instructions–and that they were ordered not to resist, and to do as they were told, even at the risk of their vessels, their dignity, and their rights as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention (III).
I believe that the U.S.S. Truman, which reportedly came under missile lock, was also ordered not to fire in self-defense. I believe that the U.S. Navy could have easily intercepted and defeated the Iranians, but did not do so because the Obama administration is so desperate to save its sham nuclear deal with Iran that it is letting the Iranian regime commit aggression after aggression with total impunity.
The orders had to have come from the top.
Obama’s fans want to believe the sailors were incompetent–or “retarded,” as one tweeted–and that it was only the magnificent diplomacy made possible by the Iran deal that freed the sailors the next day.
But if ties with Iran are “warming,” as the media contend, why is Iran becoming more aggressive, not less–testing ballistic missiles, firing rockets near aircraft carriers, and taking American sailors captive, whether they were actually in distress or not?
There is one troubling, haunting detail that gives the game away. It is the behavior of the sailors when they were captured, and appeared on Iranian television. Look at their slouching bodies. Look at their faces, showing sadness and despair. Look at the woman forced to wear a hijab. There is no military bearing, no hope. They were either interrupted in the middle of sleep–or they lost faith in the Navy because they were ordered to disobey their duty.
There is a pattern. When terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012, President Barack Obama was briefed–and did nothing. Instead, he made a political calculation that it was better to let those who were trapped in Benghazi fend for themselves than risk the higher casualties intervention might bring. Likewise, Obama allegedly delayed rescuing Americans held by ISIS until it was too late.
When Americans are in danger, Obama will not fight.
As relieved as we are to have the sailors back safely, there must be a full and public investigation, reporting to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. And let the Navy, and the White House, and the State Department come to Capitol Hill and explain whether–and why–they forced these sailors to forfeit their honor.