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Three Prisoners in Iran
JohnH
I would assume all of you know about the three americans imprisoned in Iran because on a hike near the border in Iraq, they inadvertently crossed into Iran. They have been in the news lately because their mothers were allowed to visit them.

I listen to Democracy Now with some regularity, or I watch their pod cast. Today there was a long interview with the mothers. I almost ignored it for reasons that should become obvious. There is also an article about them on Counterpunch, a left news website. It is clear that the three are being used as pawns by the Iranian government to get some sort of concession from the american government. I feel sorry for them for that.

In multiple other ways I do not feel sorry for them at all. They are an obvious product of white, middle class american privilege. They had the attitude that I can go anywhere do anything and my passport and my connections will get me out of any difficulty. In this glaring case they were wrong. No matter how one cuts it they stepped in shit and expected they could get away with it.

I understand that putting oneself in harms way, even if it is inadvertent, has a certain amount of allure. I also understand that these were people with good intentions who were in the middle east with the hope of helping those there who are oppressed. I will not question their motives for why they were in the region. I also understand that they were in the midst of a vacation trying to enjoy themselves by hiking in a remote area of Iraq.

Oddly enough they are very similar to my own children. My children for the most part have a sense of social justice. My children are also graduates of UC Berkeley. My children were introduced to hiking at an early age. My children are, whether I like it or not, children of privilege who have not had to face significant difficulty in their lives. The thing that I hope is different is that I have tried to instill in my children that because they have faced little difficulty does not mean that they are immune from it. I remember distinctly telling the younger one, "do not bother to call me from jail because I will not come to get you".

What those three americans did can only be described as stupid. They were in an area of high risk and they did not take the simple precaution of knowing exactly where they were. Yes, they are being used because of the mistake they made but they did make the mistake in the first place. In fact they made multiple mistakes considering that they had other more rational choices available to them. I have no great sympathy for their condition.

If it was one of my children I would behave in this way. I would do every thing I could to get them released. If or when they were released I would give them a big hug and a kiss, and then I would drill them as hard as I could. If they reacted in any way other than "thank you dad" I would be ashamed of how I had raised them.
Edited by JohnH on 05/25/2010 17:27
 
Skeeve
I listened to the same program this afternoon, John.

And I agree these 3 are being used. Calling them spies is insane.

As for the rest of your view of the situation, I'm not so sure I can get behind the "typical, privileged American" upbringing as being true or relevant to their plight.

Either way, that is one fucked up place to be. At least they're being treated far better than any domestic Iranian accused of spying.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
Bob of QF
I agree with you, JohnH.

Especially with today's tech: it's literally dirt-simple to be aware of where you are at all times, for less than $50US....

... it is unconscionable for them to not have had a cheap GPS along, when hiking so close to a religious-fundie country's border.

Stupid does not begin to describe their error-- for it is liberally laced with arrogance and presumed "American Superiority".

I have no sympathy in the least-- stupid is, as stupid does.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
Hmm, lets go hiking in a war zone near the border of a country hostile to us. This is beyond stupid, those guys weren't innocent. They probably are spies of some sort.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Theory_Execution
I was told once that before the second world war broke out, German boy scouts used to go on cycling trips around the UK and it was believed that the purpose of this was as a cover for reconissance.

Never underestimate the levels a country would go to, the stuff they will tell you, and only after 50 or more years, is drastic enough.
 
JohnH
I do not believe that these three were spies. Their political beliefs as represented by their parents and their previous actions, to my mind, preclude them engaging in espionage particularly for the US government.

I stand by my initial assessment. These are people who presumed a level of privilege that would protect them from even the most unthoughtful of actions. They did not take the most fundamental of precautions because they had never in the past found it necessary.

I would in addition posit that they have no sense of their level of privilege. If they did they would limit their attempts to reform US policy in the Middle East to appropriate political action in the US. They would focus their direct attempts at social justice on more immediate concerns in their own country.

This was a lark to them regardless of their intent to improve the lot of oppressed people in the Middle East. Dealing with the oppressed in South Central or South Chicago or Oaktown or Harlem would not have as much fun associated with it. But, being in a foreign country, on family money I presume, sounds like fun.
 
catman
I don't think they were spies either. They were well-meaning dolts.
 
derF
Sort of makes me wonder what kind of top secret stuff Iran might have been hiding up in those mountains though.
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
 
Theory_Execution
Absolutely nothing, but wouldnt you patrol your borders so you could catch people in your territory and use their bodies as bargaining tools?

I especially would if I had nuclear capable terrorist states like Israel near me.
 
seeker
It may not have anything to do with learning secrets in that area. If they were agents they could have been slipping into Iran to monitor Iran's nuclear program or to sir up opposition to the current regime or any number of other little missions.

I wouldn't put much credence in the statements by family members BTW. Chances are they don't know what their relatives are up to.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
JohnH
My assessment is based on both what the family said and their own actions. I believe Seeker you give them more character then they deserve. They were on a one week vacation, hard to do much espionage in a week. They had no real intent to be in Iran, they simply did not know where they were.

No one, except Skeeve, seems interested in discussing my main point. They came from privileged backgrounds and had no sense of that privilege and no sense of where it may fail them.
Edited by JohnH on 05/28/2010 20:03
 
derF
Privileged kids doing stupid things are far too common around the world. Does the moniker 'ugly American' ring a bell. For way too long Americans have considered themselves to be the worlds king pins and have treated the rest of the world as second and third tier citizens. George Bush exacerbated the problem with his cowboy diplomacy. Iran has taken much of the brunt of Bush's wild westdiplomacy and these 'well to do' kids were obviously too full of themselves to consider that their actions might be viewed as an opportunity for Iran to thumb its nose at the United States and show the world that they will not submit to bullying by the hated evil spawn of Satan. What was the name of that country that over ran our Embassy and held its inhabitants prisoner for a year when Carter was president?
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
 
Bob of QF
JohnH wrote:
My assessment is based on both what the family said and their own actions. I believe Seeker you give them more character then they deserve. They were on a one week vacation, hard to do much espionage in a week. They had no real intent to be in Iran, they simply did not know where they were.

No one, except Skeeve, seems interested in discussing my main point. They came from privileged backgrounds and had no sense of that privilege and no sense of where it may fail them.


Actually, I agree-- they acted like brats.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
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