What we should have gotten is a deal that involved a political transformation of Iran, and a real prospect that political imprisonment and hostage-taking by the rogue regime would cease.
Instead, we got a deal that will spike the guns of critics of the Iran nuclear “deal,” at the crucial point when the UN’s IAEA is about to give Obama the green light to lift nuclear-related sanctions.
Lawmakers in Congress, including a list of Democrats in the House, want to impose additional sanctions because of the ballistic missile launches conducted by Iran last fall, which violated UN resolutions. After Iran briefly took 10 American sailors hostage this week, the chief of the Iranian armed forces, Hassan Firouzabadi, taunted those very members of Congress, stating that the hostage situation on Farsi Island should “be a lesson” to them.
So it would be absurd to suggest that the Iranians, and implicitly the U.S. administration, don’t have the nuclear “deal” and the lifting of sanctions in mind, with their release of the American prisoners. The IAEA news conference is about to start (it’s a little after 2 PM Eastern as I’m typing this), and Iran just released the prisoners a couple of hours ago. The purpose of the timing is clearly to give Obama a little “win,” create the (manifestly false) impression of a collegial magnanimity on Iran’s part – given that Iran’s getting everything she wants and is giving up nothing she doesn’t want to – and blunt any last-ditch effort in the U.S. to keep effective sanctions in place.
The mullahs have taken well the measure of American leadership today. It’s not just those in the White House; it’s the dominant media, and Obama’s core of committed supporters, including those in opinion-leadership circles, who execute policy based on surges of feeling, and manufactured, impressionistic photo-op moments.
It is foolish – not compassionate; foolish – to let yourself be taken in by manufactured moments of this kind. It’s cynical and immoral to make use of them (which Team Obama has obviously done, by cooperating in the negotiating process that has led to this). But that’s the leadership we have.
Of course everyone in America is thankful – not to the Iranian mullahs, but to Almighty God – for the release of our unjustly imprisoned countrymen. Their release is an absolute good, and in itself, it is not tainted by the price being paid. (It won’t be enough, I note, until Robert Levinson and Siamak Namazi are also released.)
But to suggest, falsely, that critics of this prisoner swap are complaining about our hostages being released is to pretend that their release under these conditions was the only possible option.
It wasn’t. Starting with the day nearly seven years ago when – we now know – Obama prohibited his administration from giving help to Iranian reformers during the “Green Revolution,” his administration has done the opposite of press for reforms in Iran, which need to include a regime-change led by the Iranians.
His administration has abandoned every principle in order to produce a “deal” that Iran has neither formally agreed to nor signed. His administration has diminished our military posture to such an extent that we no longer have the option Obama brags about of simply using force to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear-weapons finish line.
And now, in spite of the fact that Iran remains secretive and non-compliant, in multiple ways, with nuclear non-proliferation monitoring by IAEA, Obama is poised to lift the U.S. sanctions that have been the only vestige of leverage we still hold over Iran.
The U.S. administration could have done everything differently in the last seven years, and it is perfectly realistic to posit that we’d have different conditions today, and our prisoners in Iran (if they had even been taken) could be released – might well have already been released – under more favorable, less strategically ominous circumstances.
About that, we should all complain.
We don’t lament the release of our fellow Americans from their time of horror. We rejoice with them and their families. But it’s too late in history to pull any punches about this. Only a dangerous fool would pretend that the rest of it doesn’t matter.