The current furore over the selling of Faye Turney’s story, and the stories of the other Iran hostage crisis sailors and marines is surely a shot in the foot for the image of Britain overseas.
Far from portraying ourselves in a positive light, we are showing ourselves (once again) to be a nation that is as corrupted by power and fame as its many detractors claim it to be. How can we possibly seek to hold a moral high ground position when soldiers return from a military mission, and then go and sell salacious versions of their stories to newspapers which seek to serve a right wing agenda?
I know full well, having worked for these papers for a number of years, exactly how this all works. Moreover, I know that if the Navy had been bullish, refused to let this happen, squirelled the people away for a week or two, put their families in hotels, whatever necessary, this could largely have been avoided. It would have blown over. The sums of money being offered which were clearly too much for the family to turn down, would have been dramatically smaller this time next week.
Instead, we have this situation which is a full scale PR disaster in foreign relations terms.
Iran had a PR coup with the way it was seen to handle the release of the sailors and marines, just because it wasnt seen that way here, doesnt mean it wasnt seen differently abroad. In turning military people into cry and tell merchants, we’ve done nothing to alter this, and everything to make us look weak and corrupted overseas.
I am a pacifist, I dont support the war in Iraq, I dont support Nuclear development, I dont apologise for Iran’s activities either.
Kester’s grid post last week which reflected in part on the way Jesus treated conflict as opposed to the way others did was a great inspiration and encouragement to me, and I believe it can be translated here. In trying to fight Iran’s propaganda with our own tabloid tales, Britain is shooting itself in the foot.
In this situation, a Jesus style model of grace, forgiveness, and humility would have served much better, not only to better improve our foreign relations, but also for the nation’s collective soul (if there is such a thing;) ).
But as the Clash wisely said: “ The people must have something good to read on a Sunday [or a monday]”