Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taking Hostages: Tehran in 1979 - Cairo in 2012

American diplomats, 1979, in Tehran, Iran
By Alan Caruba

As someone who vividly recalls the Iranian “students” who took our diplomats hostage in 1979 and the 444 days it took to get them back, the repeat of this by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, putting 19 pro-democracy, non-government organization (NGO) Americans on trial on trumped up charges has an ugly repetitive feel to it.

The contempt the Iranian revolutionaries, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, had for America and, I might add, international law and practice that goes back centuries, is everything you need to know about dealing with militant Islamists, whether they are in Iran, Egypt, or anywhere else on the face of the Earth.

Just as then-President Jimmy Carter dawdled while looking for a diplomatic response, this same scenario is now being played out by Barack Obama and it won’t work now just as it did not work then. Carter authorized a failed military operation that, by most accounts, was poorly organized and executed.

What is needed now is a Navy SEAL unit or larger force to go in, rescue our American hostages, and extract them from Cairo. We need direct military action, just as we need direct military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, missile operations, and the barracks of the Revolutionary Guards.

Just as Jimmy Carter was seen as weak, so too is Barack Obama and, for America and the world, that is very bad news. I don’t care if the Iranian leadership and other militant Islamists don’t like America. I want them to fear us.

Apparently they didn’t get the message when the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the home city to its military college. While bin Laden was right up the street and around the corner, we are supposed to believe that no one in Pakistan’s military or intelligence structure had the slightest idea. He was living in a large walled compound. Short of buying his own groceries, you’d think someone might have noticed. And, of course, now they are angry at us for killing the man behind the murder of some 3,000 of our citizens, including an attack on the Pentagon!

When the Iranians went into the streets in June 2009 protesting the bogus election of Mamoud Ahmadinejad, Obama’s response was that the U.S. “shouldn’t meddle” in Iran’s affairs. A plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to America in a Washington, D.C. restaurant was discovered and some people might call that “meddling” in our affairs.

This hostage-taking needs boots-on-the-ground action now. The only upside to this event is that the longer it goes on, the same disenchantment that resulted in the defeat of Jimmy Carter will be Obama’s fate in the November election.

The fact that Obama has imposed the largest debt/credit crisis that the nation has ever incurred, unemployment levels that rival the Great Depression, a housing market that is still in the tank, and is busy hollowing out the nation’s military capabilities at the worst possible time seems to gone unnoticed by the forty percent or more of Americans that think he’s doing a swell job.

Our present problem is that Obama does not like America any better than our enemies do. He does not like our Constitution, recently blaming the Founding Fathers for the limitations they wisely imposed to avoid a government grown too large and a president with powers beyond those granted.

This nation is in peril from the same gross stupidity that gripped it prior to World War Two until Pearl Harbor occurred in 1941. The war in Europe had been going on since 1939 and the Japanese had invaded China in 1937.

We are in a new, dangerous era with the chaotic situations in the Maghreb of northern Africa where U.S. assistance, via NATO, was provided to overthrow Gaddafi and Obama's swift rejection of Egypt’s Mubarack led to his downfall. There are uprisings in Syria and Yemen. It is the result of massive resentment against dictatorial regimes, but the real problem will be how these revolutions turn out.

That is something we cannot control, but we must do what we can to protect American citizens abroad to protect our national interest and to project real national power.

The Middle East is tribal. With the exception of Israel the “nations” we must deal with are merely armies with a national flag, not modern democratic governments responsive to their citizens. That is why Iraq threatens to break apart. It is why the majority Syrians want to end the minority Alawite tribe’s control. It is why Palestinians are not welcome anywhere.

The President’s top intelligence advisor recently told a Senate committee that sanctions are not working against Iran, but the President wants to pretend they are. The U.S. and the rest of the world are waiting for the Israelis to do to Iran what we and our allies should be doing to end its nuclear threat.

Likewise, if we wait around while the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo makes us look like a bunch of punks it will just get worse for us in Egypt and the Middle East just as it did in 1979.

In Egypt we need to get in, break some furniture, shoot some bad guys, get our people out, and then shut off the billion-plus dollar aid spigot.

No more American tourists, no more American aid, and no more Mr. Nice Guy.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


agraves said...

Mr. Caruba, does it not matter to you that Leon Panetta and the CIA Intelligence community, Jim Clapper, and our President, have said that Iran has not developed nor decided to develop a nuclear weapon? Yes, they are working on Nuclear power generation, but no weapon. Sir, the only beneficiary of an attack on Iran is Israel. Follow the money, once Israel launches its attack the U.S. will have to replenish it's war supplies in addition to the 5 Billion in aid already given. I am a vietnam vet and went along with Iraq and Afghanistan but not this. You know that if Israel attacks Iran it will be American blood and treasure spent again. How many Israeli soldiers will go to fight in Iran? Not many. Remember Israel is a foreign nation, not the 51st state. Let them bring it to Iran if they are so threatened. Why all the talk of attack? Why not just go ahead and do it already? They say the Saudis want to attack Iran, why not have Israel and the Saudis get together and launch an attack? One last thing, I have known a number of Israelis in the U.S. and they have no respect for our country or Christianity. They only want to control the outcome.

Alan Caruba said...

@agraves: For the record, I disagree with everything you assert. How naive is it to actually believe anything the Obama says? Or anyting that Iran says?

You were lied into service in Vietnam by LBJ, and Bush appears to have misled us about Iraq.

Iran is not just Israel's enemy. It is ours as well.

agraves said...

Bush APPEARS to have MISLED us about Iraq? You seem to be unable to speak directly about the truth. You disagree with everything I said, I am naive about our CIA, Panetta, Clapper, Patreaus, and our President. But you are wise about Israel and the neocons. Since you disagree with everything I assert I guess that makes Israel the 51st state. Why doesn't Israel just attack Iran, you didn't address that question. Answer: they can't do it without American support. Your best comment was LBJ lied us into Vietnam! Isn't that what most governments do. But not Israel. You show your true colors, blue and white.

Alan Caruba said...

@Agraves: You seem to forget this is MY blog and it exists to post MY opinions. If you disagree, there are millions of other blogs to read and reply to.

For now, you have had your say and it will have to be sufficient for you.

Lime Lite said...

Alan - I agree with you regarding Egypt. America needs to stop starting wars - they need to do focused attacks on viable threats. War should be the last resort. Go into Egypt and rescue your people and then STOP all money and other aid to them - let them suffer. Shut your borders to their 'refugees' that will result as sure as night follows day. Same with Iran. Iran won't start a war; they are hoping either America or Israel do. Until then, targeted attacks as Mossad are doing are sufficient to remind them of the cowards they are. Take out their facilities in covert operations and behind the scene you can verbally warn them off. Just the threat should be enough. America needs to step away from being the world’s policeman - as much as we all appreciate it. At the end of the day your country gets the bad rap; other countries don't spend any money on THEIR issues, and you lose your wonderful young men and women in combat for nothing. Just what is the reason for still being in Afghanistan? It's going to return to the tribal hell hole it was before America had boots on the ground. Iraq? Same thing. Vietnam? Same thing. And no other country has suffered as America has be it, financially, politically or in human lives. I asked my American brother in law years ago why the USA went into Iraq the second time. His reply? Because we can. That should sum up what’s wrong with the American psyche. Just because you can doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Alan Caruba said...

Lime Lite, we are in substantial agreement.

We went into Iraq a second time because Bush41 did not finish off Saddam and he later admitted as much. It was left to his son, Bush 43 to finish the job.

It seems that dictators these days come with an expiration date. What follows in their wake, however, is often as great a mess as before or worse.

I do hope the US stops getting into wars, particularly in an era where they are prolonged and generally useless. We should have learned that from the Soviet collapse after they invaded Afghanistan.

LoneRider said...


One thing that the media forgets to note, is that Russia (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/11/us-nuclear-iran-russia-idUSTRE74A44F20110511) is providing nuclear fuel to Iran.

The only logical reason for Iran to create the well protected processing plants, and with there capabilities, is to produce nuclear weapons.

And sadly, when the leadership of Iran says he will do everything in his power to destroy Israel and the US, I am willing to take his word on that.

Another thing to note, is the war has already begun. And to my simplistic mind, have already started. Considering the Iranian insurgency into Iraq, killing US troops, are we (USA) not in a state of conflict with Iran? Pakistan as well? When you look at the bombings, assassinations, and electronic warfare actions taking place in Iran, who other than the US or Israel could be responsible?

LarryOldtimer said...

In general, I agree with you Alan.

Most people don't realize that what once were very good reasons for doing certain things are no longer valid expressly because the proper action (actions of military strength) was taken decisively and quickly.

I am a vet who worked in USAF intelligence 1954 to 1958, and as a result know very well what needed to be done as to actual survival of the US of A, and I know that what was needed to do was done exceptionally well by men (mostly) of great courage.

Isael has been our only true ally in the Mideast since its inception in 1947.

And just why would people of another nation not look first to their own's country's welfare?

Jimmy Carter promised Israel that the US would be completely responsible for future defence of Israel, as I recall, and lied totally.

As far as Iran's nuclear capability, I read where Iran has enough purified U235 of weapons grade to fabricate 4 Uranium atomic weapons. Iran certainly has the platform to launch said nuclear weapons, and I don't expect that those weapons will be "clean" in the least.

All the time which the UN/USA has frittered away has been used by Iran to become far more formidible from a weapons standpoint.