September 19, 2023

Emboldened Iran, Weakened America

Joe Biden’s $6 billion prisoner swap will yield more bad situations for Americans abroad down the road.

President Joe Biden, 80, addressed the 78th UN General Assembly this morning in New York City, the day after his administration finalized a deal with Iran for $6 billion and freeing five Iranians in U.S. custody in exchange for the release of five Americans imprisoned in Iran and two others apparently prevented from leaving the country. Biden clearly wants that deal to bolster his image, but what other world leaders will see is the same as what we do — a weak old man and a feckless leader.

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi is also speaking at the UN today, and it’s with a bit more pep in his step. And why not? His regime just secured the unfreezing of $6 billion in assets owed by South Korea in exchange for five Americans. The Biden administration insisted that the money be devoted to humanitarian efforts; the Iranian regime said the money will be spent however the Iranian regime decides. Money is fungible in any case.

Moreover, as soon as those funds were freed, Iran promptly began barring UN inspectors from its nuclear sites. The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism happens to be awfully defiant as a general rule.

Now, to be sure, we’re glad for the hostages and their loved ones that they’re free, and seeing them disembark the plane was heartwarming. Imprisonment in Iran (or any number of other tyrannical states), even on legitimate charges, isn’t something to take lightly. The five Americans were detained for years, but they have now walked free off a plane on U.S. soil.

But that doesn’t mean Biden’s deal was a good one.

Monday’s prisoner release could be “a step in the direction of a humanitarian action between us and America,” boasted Raisi. “It can definitely help in building trust.” It shouldn’t because there are few less trustworthy nations than Raisi’s Iran.

As we already mentioned, Iran does far more to sponsor terrorism than it does to fund anything remotely humanitarian. That’s what makes the regime’s nuclear program so problematic. It’s for peaceful purposes, the world is routinely told, but as the Associated Press notes, Iran “now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.”

Thanks, Obama.

Team Biden has made no secret of the fact that one of its priorities is to work to free Americans detained abroad. We just marked the two year anniversary of Biden’s disgraceful retreat from Afghanistan, which did not include getting every American to safety before surrendering the nation back to the Taliban we evicted two decades ago.

“To date, under this administration, we have now brought 30 Americans home from places around the world where they were being unjustly detained,” boasted Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “That work will continue.”

Yet making such a humanitarian-sounding goal a focal point all but guarantees future hostage taking. It can be a lucrative business, after all, when a weak American president is willing to pay dearly.

Not to worry, say Blinken. “At the same time, we’re going to be working every single day to take steps to make this practice more and more difficult and more and more of a burden on those countries that engage in it.”

Hostile world leaders must be chuckling. Indeed, Iran seized two of the hostages released in this deal not long after the last deal done by the Obama administration. No wonder the Biden administration also advised Americans not to travel to Iran.

We would advise Americans who voted for Biden, that electing a president who folds like a cheap suit in the face of antagonistic regimes, has made the world a very dangerous place.

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