When I first read of this incident (the detaining of American hikers by Iranian authorities) I was in awe: how could any group of civilian recreational hikers be so crazy as to imagine hiking in or around Iraq at this point in time? Despite the claims made in the NY Times and in this Nation article, one cannot go trekking in or around war zones and militarily occupied territories with active insurgencies as if, yes, there is a Lonely Planet--Iraq/Af-Pak.
The Nation writing only cements this conclusion in my mind. While we can only imagine that Iran will return the detainees safe to the US eventually--Iran is not a nation of barbarians--the truth is that these trekkers decided to wander near the border with Iran.
The US is reportedly sending teams of covert operators into Iran through this border, and Iran is certainly sending its own operators into Iraq through the same border. Iran has every reason to detain Americans wandering over the border claiming to be hikers.
Let's just be glad that these foolish people didn't go hiking in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan upon being told how beautiful the waterfalls are and how safe it all really is despite appearances. Let's also accept that in America, we may coddle in people too much the capacity for real stupidity.
Aug 6 2009 - 8:42pm