Two recent events concerning Iran and hostages illustrate the utter dysfunction of the current administration’s policy concerning Iran. The irony is that the capture and freeing of ten American sailors last week and then the freeing of four long-held American hostages is being seen as diplomatic triumphs by the White House and the State Department when they are nothing of the kind.
The good news about the latest Iranian hostage crisis is that it lasted only a day, and the ten American sailors who fell into the hands of the Revolutionary Guard were released with all but their dignity unharmed. The bad news was the craven response to the dustup by the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State John Kerry. Neither Kerry nor any other administration official seems to have a clue how thoroughly Iran has humiliated them, the sailors in question, and the United States in general. In fact, according to the New York Times, Kerry is hailing the incident and its quick resolution as signs of warmer relations between the United States and the Iranian Islamic Republic.
The first question that has to be answered is how the two patrol boats full of sailors came to be in the hands of the Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian version of the Waffen SS? Why did the Navy lose contact with both of the boats at the same time? Why did the White House suggest that the boats suffered a mechanical failure when it turned out that they had not? Both parties are claiming that the boats had drifted into Iranian territorial waters, though considering everything else this has to be taken with a grain of salt.
What is not in dispute, as Fox News reported, is that Iran has distributed a number of videos designed to humiliate the United States. One shows the sailors on their knees with their hands behind their head under the watchful eyes of Revolutionary Guardsmen with drawn weapons. Another shows the sailors sitting in a bare room with their boots removed, having dinner, with the sole female sailor having been forced to wear an Islamic headscarf, a hijab. The third depicts the commander of the boats, a young lieutenant, offering an apology to his Iranian captors.
Just as with the illegal missile tests, Iran seems to be testing the patience of the Obama administration to see how far it can go before it starts to think that the nuclear weapons agreement is not worth it. Thus far, Iran can apparently go as far as violating international law by capturing American sailors and compelling, at least one of them to grovel.
Say what you will about President Jimmy Carter, but he understood what Iran was doing when that country took a number of American diplomats as hostage and held them for 444 days. He may have been powerless to stop the slow motion humiliation, but he did not tell the Iranians, in effect, “Thank you sir. Give me another.”
Commentary reminds us that Carter’s successor, President Ronald Reagan, had a slightly different reaction when the Iranians trifled with the United States Navy.
“Perhaps it’s time to remember Ronald Reagan and Operation Praying Mantis. After the USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iran-laid mine in the Persian Gulf, an incident which caused no deaths, Reagan ordered the U.S. Navy to retaliate by destroying guns and military equipment on an Iranian oil platform. In order to minimize loss of life, the U.S. Navy warned the occupants of the platform first. When the Iranian navy and air force tried to defend the platform, the U.S. Navy engaged and, in what would become the largest surface naval battle since World War II, the U.S. Navy largely sank their Iranian counterparts.”
Of course if Obama were to follow Reagan’s lead and destroy the facility where the Revolutionary Guard used to capture and imprison American sailors, he would have to say goodbye to the nuclear weapons agreement, which he holds very dear. Iran knows this, so it will likely continue to pull the Eagle’s tail feathers until President Obama is replaced by someone with sterner stuff.
The freeing of four long-held American hostages, including a Washington Post reporter and a Christian minister, is certainly a good thing because these men are now coming home and will no longer be tortured in Iranian prisons. They were freed in exchange for Iranian criminals serving time in American jails and for an agreement to no longer pursue 14 Iranians who were alleged to be involved in terrorist activities.
The message sent was clear, as the economic sanctions were lifted and over $100 billion began to flow back to Iran. Take Americans as hostages, and America will eventually be made to give you what you want. The results are not going to be pretty as not only Iran but other enemies take advantage of that fact.