Monday, April 30, 2007

Israeli Democracy

Excellent article on the Guardian website today by Nimer Sultany on the issue of Israel's Arab population and its lack of civil rights. An excerpt:
"Imagine the following situation in the United States:

The US amends the constitution to define itself as a "White Evangelical and democratic state" and leaves "equal protection of the laws" outside the constitution; a federal organ called the White Evangelical National Fund promotes settlement and allocation of land for White Evangelicals only; a federal organ called White Evangelical Agency encourages and helps White Evangelicals all over the world to immigrate to the US since it is the Promised Land for Whites; a federally-funded Center for Demography working to increase the birthrates of White Evangelicals to ensure their status as a majority and discusses ways to "persuade" non-white citizens to have less children; a federal Immigration and Absorption Department dedicated exclusively for White Evangelicals; a law prohibiting mixed marriages inside the US between American citizens and non-White-Evangelical foreigners (the Supreme Court upholds the law since Earl Warren is no longer on the bench); an immigration law providing automatic citizenship and financial government benefits for White Evangelicals only; the administration declares most of the private lands as public domain owned collectively by white people, and non-whites are denied any rights in these lands; the president appoints a Chief Evangelical Priest for the US, the administration funds his office as well as dozens of White Evangelical religious schools and institutions, and the Congress starts its session after the elections by reading Biblical verses; the head of the FBI publicly states that non-white citizens are "strategic threat" and "demographic threat" to the White Evangelical character of the country; some members of the Congress publicly and routinely demand the expulsion of the non-white citizens; 65% of the white majority regularly expresses in public opinion polls its demand from the administration to encourage the emigration of non-whites outside the country; and 60 years of constant official state of emergency with Emergency Regulations invoked occasionally to prevent non-white leaders from leaving the country and to close their newspapers and NGOs.

Unfortunately this is the daily reality of the Palestinian-Arab citizens in Israel (18% of the total population). All the above-mentioned elements, and more, exist in the Israeli law and political culture: Jewish National Fund, Jewish Agency, etc. Yet, many pro-Israelis defy the facts and still argue that Israel is a democracy where Jews and Arabs have equal rights. "
Read the rest here.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The West and Iran: Radio Interview

I'll be appearing on Nadim Mahjoub's show "Middle East Panorama" tomorrow between 2 and 3pm UK time on Resonance FM. Nadim interviews me on the Iran hostage crisis, following my recent article on the subject. You can listen on FM radio if you're in central London, and the rest of you can tune in via the web. If you miss it, I think it gets posted in an archive so you can listen whenever's convenient. If that happens I'll post a link here.

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update - 30/4/07

You can now listen to the interview here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Still Strangling Palestine

My article "Still Strangling Palestine", on the effects of the Western blockade of the Occupied Palestinian territories, is available now at UK Watch.

An excerpt:

"It is easy enough to predict the likely consequences of imposing a year’s comprehensive financial blockade on one of the poorest places on Earth. And yet the findings of last Friday's Oxfam report on the effects of the West's enforced economic isolation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories – imposed in response to the victory of Hamas in the elections of January 2006 - are no less chilling for that.

According to the report, “…the decision to suspend aid to the PA [the Palestinian Authority] and withhold tax revenues has led to immense suffering. One year on, the number of Palestinian people living in poverty has jumped by 30 per cent, essential services are facing meltdown, and previously unknown levels of factional violence plague Palestinian streets. If this situation continues, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) risk becoming a ‘failed state’, destroying the chances of achieving a two-state solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict].”

Our government, which claims to lead the way in democracy promotion abroad and the alleviation of third world poverty, may be comfortable with impoverishing a society to punish it for voting the wrong way in a free election. But there is no reason for us to acquiesce in the implementation of such an obscene policy when we have the power to change it."

Read the rest here.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Cheney

Juan Cole right on the money, as is so often the case, describes here two 21st centuries: the actual 21st century and the one in Dick Cheney's mind.
"I caught a clip of Dick Cheney on Sunday saying that "in the 21st century," the US could stay in Iraq and ensure that a stable government was established that could defend itself.

I was struck by his invocation of the 21st century, as though it were automatically on the side of the US, or more especially on the side of American hawks.
The Project for a New American Century was always a project for a new American empire, an empire of the old rickety nineteenth-century sort. Its time passed a long time ago. Peoples of the global south don't have to surrender their independence to European district commissioners anymore. They have enough biopower to forestall that fate. "
read the rest here.
Also today, in the Guardian, Jackie Ashley launches a powerful attack on the rest of the political class for focusing on trivialities like the career of Defence Secretary Des Browne and marginalising discussion of the ongoing carnage in Iraq:
"What matters is the disaster. What matters is the blood dripping into the sand, day after day, week after week. What matters is the obvious thing, the hideous civil war destroying Iraq, and the murders and the bombings, and our complicity in that....We have made this situation, rolled out the pitch on which civil war and terrorism are being played out, and have failed to find any way of binding the wounds we opened. The answers are hard, expensive, and possibly humiliating - they certainly involve dialogue with the Iranians. But that's what the Commons should be debating today, not Des Browne and his stupid inquiry."
I'd make a couple of points on Ashley's article.
Firstly, she praises the elements of the web-based non-mainstream media that have focused on what matters in respect of Iraq and mentions two sites: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count and Iraq Body Count. Of these, she says that the former "confines itself to collating news reports and is therefore, it says itself, undercounting", which is also true of Iraq Body Count, but she neglects to mention that. This is important because she cites the IBC death toll of "between 61,391 and 67,364" whereas the most reliable estimate is probably that published in the Lancet medical journal [pdf] last year which cited a figure of 655,000. The Lancet report, whilst rubbished in public by the government, was privately admitted to have come "close to best practice", using "robust", "tried and tested" methodology which may even have lead to an underestimate according to one adviser.
Secondly, while Ashley characterises the conflict as a civil war, the Lancet report noted that a large proportion of the deaths, in fact most of those whose cause was identifiable, came as a result of coalition air strikes. Plainly the nature of the conflict has changed over the years, but coalition air power is still very much active today, so the meaningful focus that Ashley calls for would have to look at this element as well.
But credit to Ashley for making two compelling and important points that need to be made far more often in mainstream discourse: firstly, that Iraq is first and foremost a tragedy for the Iraqi population (as opposed to a disaster for Western prestige, Tony Blair's legacy or some such triviality) and secondly, for acknowledging that the US-UK share a large part of the responsibility for the sectarian element of the conflict.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Iran hostage crisis in context

Now that the UK-Iran hostage crisis has come to a close, it is possible to draw a few conclusions on the meaning of what has taken place over the last fortnight. However, standing in the way of our efforts to do so, we will find a broad cross-section of the Western news media which, since the crisis began, have reliably undertaken their standard task of caricaturing and infantilising the official enemy. Much effort has been spent ascribing to Iran the fanaticism, aggression and various other pathologies that constitute the designated framework within which we are told its actions must be understood. These depictions, implicitly or explicitly, have begged the question of how Britain, as a mature and reasonable nation state, can best deal with the unruly children in Tehran and their latest unprovoked tantrum.

These cartoon-like portrayals of the situation may make us feel warm and fuzzy about Western power, and instil suitable levels of contempt for the barbarians on the periphery, but they are unlikely to give us a realistic or productive sense of what has been happening over the last two weeks. Let us then step out of the standard conceptualisation and instead consider an alternative Iranian viewpoint: not that of the half-crazed spoiler of Anglo-Saxon missionary work in the Middle East, but instead as another reasonably rational (though undoubtedly unpleasant) state actor in a volatile region, which volatility presents it with a number of substantial issues to deal with. Using this alternative paradigm, we may approach the situation with fresh eyes and ask ourselves a couple of pertinent questions: what might Iran’s reasons for arresting the British service-people have been, and how have the various actors involved benefited or lost from crisis? To answer these questions through an understanding of a rational Iranian point of view requires an appreciation of the context within which these events have taken place. A look at the relevant history is therefore required.

The historical context

In the broader context of a Persian history that spans over two millennia, the involvement of Britain and the West is a relatively recent chapter, beginning in the late 19th century as Russia and Britain fought for control over Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil reserves in Iran, and the British navy’s switch from coal to oil, drew London and Tehran closer, particularly during the Second World War when Iran was divided between Russia and Britain for the duration of the conflict. In the early 20th century, Britain moved swiftly to secure the Iranian oil concession on favourable terms, enjoying vast profits through the Anglo-Persian oil company (which later became BP) while much of the Iranian population languished in squalor, seeing practically nothing of their nation’s riches.

Britain’s maintained a steady and decisive level of interference in Iranian politics throughout the first half of the 20th century, with the aim of maintaining its control over Iranian oil reserves. This manipulation peaked with the coup of 1953, effected with the US in the lead, that overthrew the elected Iranian prime minister - Mohammad Mossadegh - and replaced him with a repressive dictatorship. Mossadegh’s crime had been to nationalise
Iran’s oil industry, inspired by the radical notion that a country’s resources should benefit its own population, not the ruling elite of a distant power. For Britain and the US, such misbehaviour could not go unpunished. As penance, Iran would spend the next quarter century subjected to a reign of state terror under the Shah and his notorious secret police the Savak which Amnesty International described as “beyond belief” and which was backed to the hilt by the US and the UK.

This regime was brought to an end by the revolution of 1979, which ushered in the era of limited democracy compromised by severely authoritarian clerical rule that continues to this day. The West’s antipathy to this new regime is generally put down to the latter being a repressive theocracy that provides backing for international terrorism. To asses this claim, it will suffice to say that such descriptions are
even more true of Saudi Arabia, which continues to enjoy a relationship with London and Washington that is unusually close for any state, let alone one of the most brutal on the face of the planet. It is plain that the objection to Iran’s government is not one of principle. If only Iran were our terrorist-backing tyrannical theocracy, it could be far more repressive and have far closer links to far worse terrorists and suffer no adverse repercussions from the West. The problem for London and Washington since 1979, as in the early 1950s, has been Iran’s independence, not its moral character.

As per imperial traditions that long predate the current era of Western pre-eminence, punishment of independent behaviour must be swift and fierce. The centrepiece of the ensuing attempts to discipline this once-again rebellious nation was the West’s
backing for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. This included Iraq’s large scale use of chemical weapons, which the West had helped Iraq to acquire, and escalated throughout the war to the point where the US was all but fighting alongside Iraq, providing active and extensive logistical back-up. The war had a profound effect on Iran, which lost hundreds of thousands of its people on the front and in Iraqi attacks on its population centres. The international communities failure to censure Iraq’s illegal war of aggression (note the contrast with the case of Kuwait in 1990) did not go unnoticed in Iran. Nor indeed did the fact that it had been isolated and systematically pulverised over eight devastating years with the material connivance of world’s powers.

Threats and responses

Bringing ourselves up to the present day, Iran has been declared a member of an “axis of evil” by a US government that has unilaterally declared its right to launch “pre-emptive” wars at will, without the approval of the international community or the cover of international law. It has seen this new doctrine put into action by the invasion and occupation by US-led coalitions of two of its major neighbours – Iraq and Afghanistan. Its attempt in 2003 to discuss all outstanding issues with the US with a view to reaching a long term settlement (including over relations with Israel, based on the Arab initiative) was ignored. It is currently being pursued through the Security Council by the West over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, despite a fatwa from the Supreme Leader banning the production of nuclear weapons and no evidence that his ruling is being transgressed. It is informed repeatedly that the US takes “no options off the table” in dealing with this much alleged but still unproven threat. It is also accused repeatedly, and again without serious substantiation, of aiding insurgent attacks on US forces in Iraq.

With global demand for oil sharply increasing just as global production comes close to its
projected historical peak, Iran finds itself sitting atop a strategic and material prize – its carbon energy reserves – whose value to the world’s powers has never been greater. Those powers that have most aggressively pursued Iran’s wealth and sought the subjugation of its government are visibly manoeuvring themselves into diplomatic, political and military positions that a rational Tehran could only find threatening in the extreme. Putting the diplomatic and political scenes to one side, on a military level Iran is currently surrounded by US forces and/or allies, in Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states. And as talk of US air strikes against Iran continues, with the strength of the Fifth fleet in the Persian Gulf increasing incrementally and with that fleet conducting “war games” simulating an assault on Iran, only the most reckless Iranian politician could refuse to see war as at least a realistic prospect.

To appreciate the Iranian perspective, we need only imagine that this history were our history, that this regional and political landscape were our own and that our nati
on were faced with hostile foreign powers whose raw military strength was so out of proportion to that available to us. In such a situation, any government whether liberal or authoritarian would view the fact and nature of the threat in much the same way, and could expect the population to share this view.

How then would a rational state deal with this situation? Its task would be to defend itself, but also to remain conscious of the disparity of forces available to it compared to its antagonists. It could not, unlike either of the superpowers in the Cold War for example, rely on the threat of massive retaliation to preclude any attack. It would therefore need to search for asymmetric methods of deterrence; a way to warn the unwelcome presence on its doorstep that any attempt to forcibly cross the threshold would carry risks sufficient to deter such action. All of the above principles apply both to the military and to the diplomatic scenarios faced by Iran.

In fact, significant asymmetric engagement between Iran and the West has been occurring over several months, perhaps even years. The fact that we have not heard so much of it in the West – let alone the howls of righteous indignation we’ve been treated to the past fortnight – is doubtless because it has been Iran on the receiving end of these efforts and not Britain or the United States. American troops have been
detaining Iranians in Iraq in increasing numbers over recent months, including Iranian diplomats present in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government (demonstrating where true power really lies in the Middle East’s newest democracy). In addition, several credible sources report that the West is constantly violating Iran’s territorial integrity. These have been said to include pilotless drone flights, US pursuit of “suspected insurgents” into Iran, and the backing of ethnic separatist terrorist groups within Iran whose activity the West hopes will destabilise the regime.

Losing at chess

In the context set out above, it appears that Iran’s arrest of the British service-people was aimed at drawing a line in the sand. To take similar action with US personnel would have precipitated a crisis that probably could not have been prevented from escalating into armed conflict. In addition, the disputed border in the Shatt al-Arab waterway offered a safety valve whereby the dispute could have been ended by being put down to a simple misunderstanding. Indeed, it was not clear (and, given the disputed nature of the border, could not have been clear, contrary to both London and Tehran’s claims) whether the British service-people were in Iranian or Iraqi territorial waters at the time of their arrest. But what was clear throughout was both Iran’s desire to see its territorial sovereignty respected and its willingness and ability to enforce that sovereignty.

Beyond this, a more important message was being sent by Iran: that it can apply pr
essure as well as receive it. Britain will now be painfully aware of the vulnerability of its troops should a US-Iran war break out. It will know of Iran’s deep ties with its Shia co-religionists in Iraq, and it will know that any US attack on Iran, even if Britain’s support was only of the diplomatic and political variety, would result in Iranian countermeasures-by-proxy that would see its troops dying or disappearing across Iraq in numbers not seen since 2003. None of this was a secret before, but the point has been well underlined.

But more striking than this for British officials will be manner in which Iran has demonstrated the shallowness of London’s international alliances and the limits of its strength on the world stage vis a vis Iran. This culminated in the rare sight of a visibly chastened Tony Blair putting on palpably uncomfortable performance before the cameras outside Downing Street shortly after Ahmedinejad’s announcement that the British troops would be released. It will not have escaped Blair’s notice that Iran released those troops not because of any decisive application of international pressure marshalled by London, not perhaps in the end even because of some deal that London was able to offer, but at a time and in a manner more or less entirely of Tehran’s choosing, which certainly caught Whitehall 100% off guard.

Recall that after a few days of relatively mild diplomacy in the initial stage
s of the crisis, Tony Blair had grandly announced that matters would enter a “new phase” if the Iranians didn’t come to their senses. There followed a staged presentation of information from Britain’s Ministry of Defence, designed to prove to the world that the troops had indisputably been in Iraqi waters. Instead this probably only served to remind the world (a) that what are Iranian and what are Iraqi waters in the Shatt al-Arab are not decided, and are certainly not to be decided by Britain, and (b) that where the Middle East is concerned, the world has heard rather too much from British and American intelligence already in recent years. Certainly the UN Security Council was not overly impressed. While Iran was chastised for arresting Britain’s troops the Council’s language was milder than that recommended by Whitehall and, crucially, member states did not endorse the view that the troops had been in Iraqi waters. Britain then took its case to the EU, where again, whilst condemnation was forthcoming it did not have the teeth that Whitehall was looking for, with Brussels failing to agree to tough sanctions against Tehran. In short, Blair’s “new phase” had fallen rather flat. Tehran had watched London attempt to internationalise their dispute and come up with very little. From there on in it would be between Britain and Iran, not Iran versus the “international community”; at least not to the significant degree that London had hoped for.

At this point, Britain’s language began to soften. The “new phase” was apparen
tly old news. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett came as close to an apology as Tehran could possibly have expected when she told reporters that “the message I want to send is I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen. What we want is a way out of it."”. Then, after a week and a half when the British government apparently had not been able to get in touch with him, Iran’s chief security official Ali Larijani spoke, not to FCO diplomats but to Britain’s Channel Four News, criticising British attempts to internationalise the dispute and explaining that matters could be solved diplomatically between the two countries. Finally, following a brief flurry of speculation in Britain on what such a deal between the two countries might involve, Iran staged a final piece of theatre, releasing the troops as an “Easter gift” to Britain, entirely wrong-footing Whitehall diplomats which had expected bi-lateral discussions to continue for some time yet.

The message was not merely that Iran can reach British troops with relative ease. It was also that on the diplomatic front, Iran does not simply have to react to events as an isolated actor surrounded by a disapproving “international community” reciting condemnations dictated by London and Washington. In this situation, Iran appears to have been more or less in control of the narrative while a relatively isolated Britain has been at the mercy of
events, with this being most especially and dramatically true at the conclusion of the crisis last night. Finally, the events of the last fortnight can be seen as a microcosm of how Iran would like the West to see the broader set of disputes between them. Internationalisation is futile, but direct bilateral engagement on the basis of mutual respect – of the kind offered by Iran in 2003 – can yield positive results.

The photos released by Iran of the British troops playing chess in captivity provides us with a useful image. Iran has played a short game of chess with the UK and won fairly convincingly. But this limited result has greater significance. Iran may not be able to prevail in a straightforward military contest with the West, but it does have significant strategic options available to it. Iran has sent the message that in the wider game of chess with its adversaries it has effective ways and means of striking back and should not be underestimated. Iran may not be able to directly deter the Israeli or US administrations from any military action against it or from increasingly aggressive moves in the diplomatic sphere. But Britain has certainly been warned, and any resulting increase in caution on London’s part will cause problems for US-Israeli hawks. And in addition to showing the limits and risks of the current Western stance, Iran has also demonstrated an alternative and more productive path for its adversaries to take. Audaciously, Tehran has turned the tables to a small extent, and adopted a carrots-and-sticks approach to those it perceives as threatening it.

Conclusions

What are the lessons for those of us in Britain? One is that any US-Iranian war will have severe repercussions for British service-people (along with wider consequences that could be disastrous in the extreme). Another is that Britain’s standing on the international stage is not nearly as strong as policymakers in Whitehall might hope, and that this loss of prestige, influence, goodwill and credibility can not be unconnected with our adventurist foreign policy of recent years. But finally, if we approach what has happened and the context in which it has happened with a degree of honesty, it is a reminder of Britain’s real role in the world. We remain a nation complicit in aggression towards other countries far from our own borders, a clear and present danger to the peace and security of many people in the world. It should not take a demonstration of the costs of such policies to ourselves, a lesson dished out by one of the world’s most odious governments, to illustrate the fundamentally immoral nature of our self-appointed role in Iran’s history, in its present and in the Middle East more generally. Because for all the intricacies of the diplomacy over the last two weeks the question in the minds of many people around the world will have been a simple one: what business did the UK have in or around Iranian waters in the first place? Above all, it is that interference in the affairs of others, that drive to manipulate the outside world to our advantage, that lies at the root of the current crises.

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Note - 13/4/07

An anonomous journalist at the Financial Times points out here that the term "hostage" in this context is a politically loaded one. It assumes that the British servicepeople were arrested by Iran in order to extract concessions.

In actual fact, though this article does not assume that the sailors and marines were in Iraqi waters at the time of capture, it does nevertheless argue that they probably were detained for political reasons. But in any event, had I considered the points made by the FT journalist, as I should have done, I might have used more neutral terminology. I'm not minded to correct the piece now, but I insert this note so that the issue's at least highlighted.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Priyamvada Gopal on Apologising for Slavery

"Atonement-speak obscures the distinction between "guilt" - a private, often religious emotion connected to personal wrongdoing - and a more demanding and necessary move: acknowledging that our lives are shaped by historical processes through which we have accrued benefits at the expense of others. .... [T]he atonement mode of acknowledging the past comes complete with built-in absolution, a rhetorical clean chit that you can give yourself without further consideration of how the past lives on in the present, and how you might redress material inequities inherited from that time.

This dual mode of atonement and celebration is also profoundly self-regarding, reinforcing the idea that white Christian Britons are the main agents of moral sensibility, courage and historical transformation. We are told by, among others, Bishop Nazir Ali - who routinely plays the role of loyal defender of the White Man's Burden - that Britain should be remembered not for its part in slavery but for its role in ending the trade. Apparently we shouldn't feel responsibility for the past but are allowed, indeed exhorted, to feel pride in it. We are to distance ourselves from those who actively participated in slavery, but we can rightfully claim an abolitionist lineage.

...the horrors of the past were not merely momentary lapses of moral judgment that can be redeemed through public enactments of remorse. They were systematic projects of national self-enrichment at the expense of other societies. A clear acknowledgement of this fact would deprive Britain of the cherished historical mantle of the "moral empire", the coloniser with a benevolent mission...."
Priyamvada Gopal - "It is contradictory to condemn slavery and yet celebrate the empire"

For more on this, see "Slaves and slavery, 1807-2007: the past in the present" by Marika Sherwood. See also my UK Watch article "Understanding Britain" and a recent post on this site "Celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of slavery's abolition...121 years too early".

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Iran Hostage Crisis: "A peculiar outrage"

"It's right that the government and media should be concerned about the treatment the 15 captured marines and sailors are receiving in Iran. Faye Turney's letters bear the marks of coercion, while parading the prisoners in front of TV cameras was demeaning. But the outrage expressed by ministers and leader writers is curious given the recent record of the "coalition of the willing" on the way it deals with prisoners.
Turney may have been "forced to wear the hijab", as the Daily Mail noted with fury, but so far as we know she has not been forced into an orange jumpsuit. Her comrades have not been shackled, blindfolded, forced into excruciating physical contortions for long periods, or denied liquids and food. As far as we know they have not had the Bible spat on, torn up or urinated on in front of their faces. They have not had electrodes attached to their genitals or been set on by attack dogs.

They have not been hung from a forklift truck and photographed for the amusement of their captors. They have not been pictured naked and smeared in their own excrement. They have not been bundled into a CIA-chartered plane and secretly "rendered" to a basement prison in a country where torturers are experienced and free to do their worst."
Ronan Bennett - "A peculiar outrage"
"I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.
It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on. "
Terry Jones - "Call that humiliation?"
Also on this, see Pepe Escobar's analysis in Asia Times Online and some extremely informative commentary from former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray. Its worth going into Murray's archives and reading his posts from the start of the crisis.