Saddened but not altogether surprised, I listened as Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the First Sea Lord, said that the fifteen British hostages from H.M.S. Cornwall who had lately returned from captivity in Iran had behaved with “considerable dignity and a lot of courage.” The behavior he was referring to had included allowing themselves to be paraded on Iranian television as they confessed their guilt and asserted the truth of the Iranian version of their capture—thus contradicting the contentions of the Admiralty itself and of the government that had sent them to the Persian Gulf on a UN mission. But the Admiral was very forgiving about this. Presumably, he was taking seriously his responsibility to promote the self-esteem of the young sailors and marines at a moment when they must have been feeling, well, a bit fragile. I hope that Britain’s (and America’s) enemies will be as...


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