Monday, February 15, 2010
Iran Still Holds America Hostage
By Alan Caruba
While Americans celebrated Valentine’s Day with chocolates, flowers, and other expressions of love, others with long memories were thinking about February 14, 1977.
In his book, “A World of Trouble”, Patrick Tyler, noted that “On February 14, a heavily armed band of revolutionary guerrillas staged a full-scale assault on the American embassy compound” in Tehran, Iran.
“The young Iranians, some of them wearing the checkered kaffiyehs of the PLO, set up firing positions on the rooftops of neighboring buildings that overlooked the compound. At 10:30 a.m., they opened up with thirty-caliber machine guns, raking the embassy from two directions.”
That was an act of war. It was not, however, treated as such in that it did not provoke a military response until later and it was too little, too late, and so poorly executed it surely marked America as too weak to be taken seriously.
On that day, however, it only took two hours for the “students” to take 66 American diplomats and staff hostage. They would be held for 444 days and released, according to Tyler, only after a heavy ransom was paid.
“This episode would reverberate through the region for decades,” wrote Tyler, “suggesting to potential foes that America would not vigorously defend its interests in the Middle East.”
There are three young American hikers being held hostage as this is written. They accidentally strayed across the Iranian border last summer and currently face charges of espionage which is punishable by the death penalty in Iran. Hostage taking is the lowest form of criminal behavior and Iran thrives on it, whether it is these three or previously, a number of British sailors who were taken at gunpoint.
President Carter’s hopes for a second term were dashed by his tepid response to the hostage taking. At the time it occurred, he had been focused on getting a Camp David agreement between Anwar Sadat of Eqypt and Menachem Begin of Israel. The two received a Nobel Peace Prize, the Sinai was returned, and Carter had his singular achievement. By then, however, he had lost the confidence of most Americans.
The unanswered question about the embassy in Tehran was why it was not shut down in the wake of attacks a few days earlier on the British embassy in Tehran. In its wake, our embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in Libya were attached and torched. When the Iranian revolution unfolded, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, many westerners and Iranians bailed out of Iran, seeing the writing on the wall.
Carter, however, could not conceive that Shah Reza Pahlavi was already in deep trouble in Iran. He had long been a trusted ally of the United States, but anti-Americanism had been on the rise in Iran for years as the result of our interference in that nation’s internal affairs. When Carter paid a state visit in 1977, he had toasted the shah saying that Iran under his leadership “was an island of stability in one of the most troubled regions of the world.”
The shah, however, would flee Iran and, already ill from cancer, suffer the indifference of the Carter administration, more intent on political correctness than compassion for the former ally who had spent billions on U.S. arms and other contracts.
As the Iranians celebrated the 31st anniversary of their revolution, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged that they were on the verge of becoming a nuclear state. Sanctions will not work against a nation that has already committed a serious act of war against the U.S. and for whom the U.N. is a mere echo chamber.
There is something embarrassing about the hope that little Israel will somehow rescue the whole of the West from the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. It is wishful thinking. It will require a preemptive attack with the full military capabilities of the United States.
It is highly unlikely that Barack Hussein Obama will authorize such an action. The Iranian leadership does not respect and does not fear Barack Obama, nor should they.