Sorry, David French, this is not a war crime.

From NRO, regarding the detention of 10 US Navy sailors by Iran:


This photograph violates international law. Article 13 of the Geneva Convention (III), governing the treatment of prisoners of war, requires Iran to protect prisoners against “insults and public curiosity.” This photograph — including a female sailor apparently forced to wear a headscarf – is a quintessential example of “public curiosity” and would be interpreted as insulting throughout the Muslim world. (And if you don’t think Iran is in a state of armed conflict against the United States, tell that to the families of hundreds of American soldiers who’ve lost their lives to Iranians and Iranian-backed terrorists.)


It’s humiliating to the US, and the Navy, and  massive propaganda coup, but hardly a war crime. In fact, it is something of a defense against charges of war crimes. Had the Iranians paraded the troops through the streets and permitted throngs to abuse them (something the North Vietnamese routinely did with captured American aircrew) that would have been a war crime.

Instead, it would appear that during the brief detention, reasonable care was taken to avoid causing harm to the sailors. They do not appear to have been beaten, nor were they stripped and forced into prisoner’s garb. They reportedly were provided adequate food and water.

The US has routinely released pictures and video of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. And the same silly charge of war crimes was leveled by the unserious elements of the left.

We are curious to know the exact circumstances of the capture of the two Riverine Command Boats, and the instructions they were operating under. And we certainly anticipate Iran continuing to be the obnoxious bully nation with its goal of regional hegemony. Worse, we know our current President will do little to challenge Iran’s increasingly bad behavior in the region, even as long standing allies in the region realize we’ve abandoned them.

But absent other evidence, it does not appear the Iranians seriously mistreated our sailors.

13 thoughts on “Sorry, David French, this is not a war crime.”

  1. You’re not seriously equating GitMo prisoners to uniformed members of a nation-state’s armed forces are you? So strike the comparison of photos of them to this spectacle.

    Second, forcing (compelling under duress) our servicewoman to wear non-uniform head gear is also an abuse.

    The USN embarrassed the entire nation with this episode, but Iran is equally at fault for their behaviour throughout. Why defend them?

  2. Hmmm…where are their boots? Why are they nowhere to be seen next to their owners? Limits mobility, I’d think.

  3. I had any bettin’ money, I would lay it on Iranian spoofing the GPS signal. A very subtle shift in the signal received and the crews would be way off course before they knew it. I could be wrong. I hope I am.

    1. Which, of course, does not mean that it was acceptable for an armed military crew to surrender without a fight.

  4. I’d hate to be the sailor in the middle when the master chief gets through with him for wearing the white socks. Got to focus on what’s important….

    On a serious note, since I saw the first pictures, I’ve been satisfied that it certainly appears that Iran has been doing the appropriate thing with these guys. Good, if scary, point on GPS signal above.

    1. When I was in, working uniform for the lower ranks included white socks. There appears to be a mix of colors of their socks as well.

      I’m not sure how the GPS signal would have been foxed, frankly. But, getting off course because of it is not an excusable thing. If the boat has no magnetic compass, then using that to maintain a course is the proper way to make a transit of the nature they were making.

  5. What are captured US military personnel supposed to do now if they are captured? I heard the Navy Lieutenant’s apology on the radio this morning. I found it disgusting, but is “say whatever your captors want you to say” now the standard procedure?

    1. Not only are we now unreliable allies, but we are disloyal to our own. Why would anyone stick their neck out after Benghazi?

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