Some pundits and politicians have made a mountain out of a molehill regarding Iran’s capture of 10 officers on two US navy ships. The politicos also used the incident to take shots at Obama and the pending deal with Iran.
American Spectator contributor Aaron Goldstein said, “Well if seizing two U.S. Navy boats, imprisoning the sailors…represents warmer relations between the U.S. and Iran then I would say things are getting downright cozy.”
Republican presidential candidate and Florida senator Marco Rubio said the incident was “provocative, absolutely.” He added, “You’re only going to see a continued pattern of provocation, as long as a weak president like Barack Obama is in the White House.”
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton declared, “That the president refuses to even call this brazen seizure a hostile act shows how far he is willing to go to coddle and appease the ayatollahs in order to preserve his flawed nuclear deal.”
Jeb Bush said on Twitter, “Obama’s humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.”
“Hey Iran, you have exactly 300 days left to push a US president around,” said MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. “Enjoy it while you can. After that, there will be hell to pay.”
And Donald Trump, the man who goes head-to-head with ISIS over who gets the most coverage on this blog, Tweeted, “Iran toys with U.S. days before we pay them, ridiculously, billions of dollars. Don’t release money. We want our hostages back NOW!” Although the US will “pay” Iran only in the sense of releasing their own frozen assets.
This rhetoric is absurd given the actual situation. The fact of the matter is that the two US naval ships – both of a model designed for cold water that is prone to malfunction in warm water – wandered into Iran’s territorial waters, and it is a reasonable act for a sovereign nation to stop another military’s ships in its waters. What is more, the US navy personnel were all released the next day.
The critics pouncing on Obama might want to recall what happened in 2007, when Iran captured the officers of a British Royal Navy vessel. That time, with Obama still a senator and George W. Bush in office, 15 captured officers were held for 13 days. Here are some firsthand descriptions of what these officers endured:
We were blindfolded, our hands were bound, we were forced up against the wall. Throughout our ordeal we faced constant psychological pressure…All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options.
We had a blindfold and plastic cuffs, hands behind our backs, heads against the wall. Basically there were weapons cocking. Someone, I’m not sure who, someone said, I quote, ‘lads, lads I think we’re going to get executed’…From there we were rushed to a room, quick photo and then stuffed into a cell and didn’t see or speak to anyone for six days.
The pressures that we were subjected to were quite diverse in the way it was carried out. It was mainly psychological and emotional…None of the guards spoke English, we were blindfolded at all times and kept in isolation from each other.
Our captors set out to psychologically confuse us by keeping us alone, feeding us very little and stopping us from communicating.
Were Tony Blair or George W. Bush weaker than Obama for having failed to gain overnight return of Royal Navy officers? Maybe they were, by the politicos’ standards.