Gary Bauer / Aug. 4, 2016

A Ransom to the Ayatollahs?

The Wall Street Journal reported [yesterday] that the Obama administration sent $400 million in cash to Iran in January, which coincided with the release of four Americans detained by the Islamic Republic. Wooden pallets were literally stacked with hard cash, including Swiss Francs, and Euros and were flown in an unmarked cargo plane to Iran. The cash came from banks in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The Wall Street Journal reported [yesterday] that the Obama administration sent $400 million in cash to Iran in January, which coincided with the release of four Americans detained by the Islamic Republic. Wooden pallets were literally stacked with hard cash, including Swiss Francs, and Euros and were flown in an unmarked cargo plane to Iran. The cash came from banks in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The payoff was the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement that the administration has reached with Iran to resolve a dispute over an arms deal in 1979. Of course the administration denies any link between the prisoner release and the pay out, but the close timing of the two events is impossible to ignore. It begs the question: Was this a ransom to the ayatollahs? And if it wasn’t, why send it in cash on an unmarked plane?

The Iranian press quotes Iranian officials describing it as a ransom. If it was a ransom of any kind, it violated a principle that has guided American presidents for decades: That the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorist groups or states for the release of hostages. And the U.S. has always had a policy of not paying ransoms or anything that looks like ransoms. That’s because while using money to secure the release of an American hostage might be instantly gratifying, it only encourages more kidnappings. Since the payoff, the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian Americans, the Journal reports, as well as dual nationals from other Western nations.

Iran is responding logically to the economic incentives that the Obama administration has given it. Whether the payout was a ransom or merely a coincidence, it is further evidence of how much Obama has been appeasing the ayatollahs.

Pope Francis’ Logic Fail

Pope Francis recently appeared to suggest that all religions are equally prone to violence. In an interview this week aboard the papal plane, a journalist asked him about the murder of an elderly priest in France by an Islamist. Francis quickly changed the focus to Christian violence, remarking how he has seen in Italian newspapers “this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law … and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics!” He continued, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence. And no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything.”

At a time when the world needs leaders who understand the threat of Islamic terrorists, Francis has been sadly disappointing. To his credit, Francis regularly makes the case for the right to life of all people, including the unborn and those with disabilities. But he seems unwilling to acknowledge that the pro-life ethos is at odds with an Islamic ideology that preaches death and destruction and whose toll among Christians, Jews and other Muslims has been breathtaking.

Pope Francis is a brilliant man who has made an egregious logical error. Just because Christians commit crimes doesn’t mean they commit them because of their faith. In fact, when such crimes occur, it’s despite their Christian beliefs. The Christian murderer or rapist is violating the central teachings of the faith. There are no priests or bishops who teach that if Christians want to please God, they should rape and kill.

But there are mosques where imams and other Muslim religious leaders tell the faithful that the only way to salvation is to commit violent jihad. There is a significant strain within Islam that teaches that if you die while killing the infidel you will be delivered to paradise.

Pope Francis made these remarks while talking to reporters aboard the papal plane. That’s been the site of several other of Francis’ controversial comments, including his “Who am I to judge?” remark in 2013 about gay priests who are seeking God’s will.

May I humbly make the following suggestion to the pope’s communication team: No more in-flight papal press conferences.

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