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Ralph Peters is a regular columnist with the New York Post. Register here for access to the Post's Online Edition.



Where's Winston?

by Ralph Peters [author, novelist] 4/4/07

The greatest shock from the Middle East this year hasn't been terrorist ruthlessness or the latest Iranian tantrum. It's that members of Britain's Royal Marines wimped out in a matter of days and acquiesced in propaganda broadcasts for their captors.

Jingoism aside, I can't imagine any squad of U.S. Marines behaving in such a shabby, cowardly fashion. Our Marines would have fought to begin with. Taken captive by force, they would've resisted collaboration. To the last man and woman.

You could put a U.S. Marine in a dungeon and knock out his teeth, but you wouldn't knock out his pride in his country and the Corps. "Semper fi" means something.

Ralph Peters - Contributor
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications. [go to Peters Index]

And our Aussie allies would be just as tough.

What on earth happened to the Royal Marines? They're members of what passes for an elite unit. Has the Labor government's program to gut the U.K. military - grounding planes, taking ships out of service and deactivating army units - also ripped the courage from the breasts of those in uniform?

The female sailor who broke down first and begged for her government to surrender was pathetic enough. But when Royal Marines started pleading for tea and sympathy . . . Ma, say it ain't so!

Meanwhile, back at No. 10 "Downer" Street, British politicians are more upset that President Bush described their sailors and Marines as "hostages" than they are with the Iranians.

Okay, Lord Spanker and Lady Fanny - what exactly are those sailors and Marines? Package tourists?

Naturally, the European Union has praised Britain's "restraint." We've now got another synonym for cowardice.

I've always respected the Brits and quite liked those I worked with when in uniform . . . but I'm starting to wonder if I bought into a legend. While criticizing our military's approach to everything, the Brits made an utter balls of it in Basra - now they're bailing out, claiming "Mission accomplished!" (OK, they had a role model . . .) In Heaven, Winston Churchill's puking up premium scotch.

The once-proud Brit military has collapsed to a sorry state when its Royal Marines surrender without a fight, then apologize to their captors (praising their gentle natures!) while criticizing their own country. Pretty sad to think that the last real warriors fighting under the Union Jack are soccer hooligans.

Of course, bravery isn't equally distributed. One or even two collaborators might be explicable. But not all 15.

Yes, journalists and other civilian captives routinely make embarrassing statements on videos, chiding their governments and begging to be swapped for a battalion of mass murderers. One expects nothing better. But military men and women in the English-speaking tradition historically maintained high standards over long years in brutal captivity - and this hostage situation has barely lasted long enough to microwave a bag of popcorn.

Think about Sen. John McCain with his broken limbs undergoing torture in that Hanoi prison - and refusing an early chance to be repatriated because he wouldn't leave his comrades behind. Think he'd do a Tokyo Rose for Tehran?

The Iranians judged their victims well: The British boat crews didn't make even a token effort at defending themselves. Now their boo-hoo-we-quit government isn't defending them, either. Was Margaret Thatcher the last real man in Britain?

The correct response to the seizure of 15 British military hostages - if not released promptly - would've been to hit 15 Revolutionary Guards facilities or vessels along the Iranian coast, then threaten to hit 30 deeper inland the next day.

By hammering the now-degenerate Revolutionary Guards, the Coalition would've strengthened the less-nutty and less-vicious regular military and emboldened President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's growing number of opponents within the government. (It was telling that the Revolutionary Guards could only muster about 200 demonstrators to harass the British embassy - it didn't look much like 1979.)

Instead, we allowed the Iranian hardliners to humiliate a once-great military and encourage hostage-takers everywhere.

At the very least, the British naval officer commanding in the zone of operations and the vocal collaborators among the hostages should be court-martialed. And the Royal Marine company to which those wankers belong should be disbanded and stricken from the rolls.

John Bull has been cowed. By a pack of unshaven thugs. And the Britannia that ruled the waves is waving goodbye. CRO

Ralph Peters' latest book is Never Quit The Fight.

This piece first appeared in the New York Post
copyright 2007 - NY Post

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