As reports come out about the Ipodless British sailors and sailorette kidnapped by Iran continue to be used as both propaganda by Iran and as sob stories in the UK tabloids, one needs only to remember history to put things into perspective.

The USS Pueblo was monitoring intelligence information in international waters when kidnapped by the North Koreans.

The Pueblo’s crew was held for 11 months, and it’s Captain, wounded during the capture, never lived down the disgrace that he “confessed” to save the life of his crewmembers. Yet the sailors managed to get out word that the confession was false by giving that famous “hand signal” in their photograph.

To this day, the North Koreans still use the ship as a propaganda museum to prove to their people the wickedness of the USA. This is understandable, since if there was no evil enemy, the North Korean people might start asking why they are so poor and their cousins in the South or even in China are so rich.

What has not gotten publicity is that New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who has connections in that country and is making an official diplomatic tour with the blessing of the Bush administration of North Korea, was invited to visit the Pueblo museum, a tour he calls “distasteful”, but reminded the press that “we are guests here”, and the difficulty in working with the North Korean government.

Yet there is an irony in the fact that a governor of New Mexico visited an anti American Museum on “Hero’s day”, a day that commemorates the surrender and Death march of the US and Philippine forces at Bataan.

You see, among the 10 000 Americans and 50 000  Filipinos in the Death March were members of the New Mexico National Guard, a unit that included Anglos, Mexican Americans, and Indians. LINK.
And every year, White Sands holds a memorial march to commemorate these soldiers.
Needless to say, there will be no memorial to the British sailors except by the Iranians, who like the North Koreans will use them as propaganda to incite Anti American hatred.

But I guess the days of saying “come back with your shields or on them” no longer applies. Whether this is better or worse, I leave it for your to decide.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician who lives with her husband in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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