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January 13, 2016

Iran Humiliates Obama, Again

Crisis averted but message sent.

Ten U.S. Navy personnel aboard two small boats were detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) on Tuesday after at least one of their boats reportedly had mechanical trouble near Farsi Island in the northern Persian Gulf. A Fifth Fleet spokesman confirmed on Wednesday the IRGCN had released all 10 sailors, who are safely aboard USS Anzio. The IRGCN also returned the two small boats, which were manned by other U.S. sailors and are en route to Bahrain.

Taking U.S. Navy personnel captive is consistent with Iran’s pattern of hostility to the U.S. under Obama’s weak leadership. But the Iranian regime is focused on getting the recent nuclear deal implemented (and $150 billion in sanctions relief flowing), and Iran doubtless wanted to avoid a repeat of 2007, when local IRGCN forces took 15 British sailors and marines captive at gunpoint and held them for two weeks. U.S. military analysts believe that incident was instigated by a local commander with no prior approval from higher authorities, and that the Iranian regime was caught by surprise in a very dangerous standoff not of its own design. This time the Iranian regime apparently exercised its authority over the IRGCN and prevented another major incident.

But was there concern in the Obama administration? Was there even a minute when the administration was rethinking the Iran nuclear deal? After all, Iran has been busy the last few weeks, test firing ballistic missiles contrary to international treaties, test firing other missiles downrange of U.S. ships, and now, in the words of Sen. Tom Cotton, “humiliating Barack Obama” on the night of his State of the Union Address.

Last night, Obama, knowing full well that 10 sailors were being treated with “Islamic compassion” by their Iranian captors, kept to his rosy script for his speech. “There is a smarter approach,” he said, “a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. … That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.” No mention whatsoever of the captured Americans from the commander in chief.

> Update: Iran forced our sailors to apologize before their release. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine veteran, warned about the implications of the video apology from the sailor. “In the Marine Corps, we were lectured about the strategic corporal—meaning any American can have an impact on American foreign policy. This apology — regardless of context — is going to be misused to diminish American power in the world and to bolster the terrorist state of Iran.”

> Update II: Recall, if you will, that within minutes after Ronald Reagan completed his oath of office, 52 U.S. Embassy hostages were released by Iranian Islamists. They had been held hostage for the last 444 days of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. On the other hand, the day of Obama’s SOTU, Iran takes 10 Navy personnel hostage and uses them for propaganda purposes. Hmmm.

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