Liberal Grace

Monday, April 09, 2007

Did a letter from the pope end the hostage crisis? I love that!

The US saber rattled. The British used diplomacy. The pope sent a letter. Seems like the letter did it.



It's highly commendable that the British stuck to diplomacy.

The Americans stuck to their old ways and offered "'aggressive patrols' in Iranian airspace" external link. Whoever thought it was a good idea to resolve incursion dispute with aggressive incursion should be fired.

Fox, of course, was giddy for yet another war.

But maybe all it took was a thoughtful letter.

Like good Christians should, the pope is not bragging about this. But, many people in the west were left scratching their heads by the release -- about both the timing and the gifts. What was the deal with the swag bags?

Perhaps it took a spiritual man to regognize that Ramadan pardons are a respected tradition over here. external link It's considered a mark of benevolence by the authority, rather than capitulation.
Another surprise intervention came from the Vatican. Hours before Wednesday's release, a letter from Pope Benedict was handed to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It said the Pope was confident that men of goodwill could find a solution. He asked the supreme leader to do what he could to ensure that the British sailors and marines were reunited with their families in time for Easter. It would, he said, be a significant religious gesture of goodwill from the Iranian people.

What impact the Pope's message had is impossible to assess. But some of its language was reflected at the press conference at which the release of the 15 Britons was announced. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the decision to "forgive" the sailors and marines had been taken "on the occasion of the birthday of the great prophet [Muhammad] ... and for the occasion of the passing of Christ".
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If we've learned anything about Iran, it's that they despise being pressured and refuse to capitulate. (No wonder America is so often at loggerheads with them -- we're both the same that way.)

Suggesting that releasing the prisoners now as a Ramadan-style pardon was brilliant. It gave the Iranians a way out while retaining their sense of honor. In that context, the gifts make sense as a tangible symbol of Iran's goodwill.

I've said before that Bush should take up Ahmadinejad's offer to debate. external link On TV is probably a bad idea but I'd like to see the two of them have an extended man-to-man talk about spiritual things. I suspect that regarding matters of faith, the two have a fair amount in common -- especially in regards to fundamentalism and personal revelation.

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