Remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis? I sure do.
I was a Radio News Director in college and I spent over one hundred days pronouncing the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s name over and over again.
For those who don’t remember, time to travel on the Wayback Machine, Sherman!
By the 1970s, many Iranians were fed up with the Shah’s government. In protest, they turned to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical cleric whose revolutionary Islamist movement seemed to promise a break from the past and a turn toward greater autonomy for the Iranian people. In July 1979, the revolutionaries forced the Shah to disband his government and flee to Egypt. The Ayatollah installed a militant Islamist government in its place.
The United States, fearful of stirring up hostilities in the Middle East, did not come to the defense of its old ally. (For one thing, President Carter, aware of the Shah’s terrible record in that department, was reluctant to defend him.) However, in October 1979 President Carter agreed to allow the exiled leader to enter the U.S. for treatment of an advanced malignant lymphoma. His decision was humanitarian, not political; nevertheless, as one American later noted, it was like throwing “a burning branch into a bucket of kerosene.” Anti-American sentiment in Iran exploded.
On November 4, just after the Shah arrived in New York, a group of pro-Ayatollah students smashed the gates and scaled the walls of the American embassy in Tehran. Once inside, they seized 66 hostages, mostly diplomats and embassy employees. After a short period of time, 13 of these hostages were released. (For the most part, these 13 were women, African-Americans and citizens of countries other than the U.S.–people who, Khomeini argued, were already subject to “the oppression of American society.”) Some time later, a 14th hostage developed health problems and was likewise sent home. By midsummer 1980, 52 hostages remained in the embassy compound.
Diplomatic maneuvers had no discernible effect on the Ayatollah’s anti-American stance; neither did economic sanctions such as the seizure of Iranian assets in the United States. Meanwhile, while the hostages were never seriously injured, they were subjected to a rich variety of demeaning and terrifying treatment. They were blindfolded and paraded in front of TV cameras and jeering crowds. They were not allowed to speak or read, and they were rarely permitted to change clothes. Throughout the crisis there was a frightening uncertainty about their fate: The hostages never knew whether they were going to be tortured, murdered or set free.
The Iran Hostage Crisis: Operation Eagle Claw
President Carter’s efforts to bring an end to the hostage crisis soon became one of his foremost priorities. In April 1980, frustrated with the slow pace of diplomacy (and over the objections of several of his advisers), Carter decided to launch a risky military rescue mission known as Operation Eagle Claw. The operation was supposed to send an elite rescue team into the embassy compound. However, a severe desert sandstorm on the day of the mission caused several helicopters to malfunction, including one that veered into a large transport plane during takeoff. Eight American servicemen were killed in the accident, and Operation Eagle Claw was aborted.
Of course, we all know what happened next: the greatest president of our generation, Ronald Reagan, succeeded where Carter failed…in all sorts of ways.
Back to the present…
The president who was formerly considered the most inept ever, has fallen out of love with the man who usurped his title.
Former president Jimmy Carter has blasted the United States for anti-terror strategies such as targeting individuals for assassination and using unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets, saying they directly flout the basic tenets of universal human rights and foment anti-US sentiment.
In an article written for the New York Times headlined “A Cruel and Unusual Record”, Mr Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work trying to resolve conflicts around the globe, suggested that the US is in violation of 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a rare attack by a former commander-in-chief on a sitting President – especially of the same party.
While Mr Carter does not name President Obama, there is little disguising that he is the principle target of his stinging words. Recent weeks have seen a slew of media reports detailing how Mr Obama has grown increasingly dependent on drones to take out suspected terror cells and describing how he has the final word to approve names on a “hit-list” of most-wanted terror suspects overseas for assassination. “Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended,” Mr Carter wrote, concluding that the US is “abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights”.
In the past, Mr Carter, 87, has meted out similar criticisms, most notably George W Bush. This latest assault is embarrassing for Mr Obama as it will serve as a reminder that he specifically pledged to adjust America’s posture in the war on terror. He began by banning interrogation techniques he considered to be torture, such as water-boarding, and by closing down Guantanamo Bay. On the latter, of course, he has failed to deliver.
It is poignant, moreover, that both men are Peace Prize winners. Critics believe Mr Obama has proved himself unworthy of the honour which he received soon after taking office. His supporters believe however that he has pre-empted criticism of his foreign policy performance. Under his watch, Osama bin Laden has been killed and much of the top echelons of al-Qa’ida have been gutted.
Yeah…Scooter hit him with his 5-Iron.
Hopefully, after January 21, 2013, Scooter will have plenty of time to work on his golf game.