Monday, January 18, 2016
Iran’s release of several hostages is, of course, wonderful news for these Americans and their loved ones — but how the Team Obama got it done is ugly indeed.
First: It’s a de facto prisoner exchange — of Americans who had done nothing wrong, for Iranians charged with or convicted of real crimes, even if the administration proudly noted that it had refused to spring anyone accused of terrorism.
The State Department made noises about how the exchange set no precedent. Yet Tehran knows it can seize US citizens on trumped-up charges, and Washington will free Iranian agents to get the hostages back.
Second: The White House sprang the deal the day it was unlocking $100 billion in Iranian assets as per the nuclear accord.
That is: Team Obama timed this news to take the sting out of a wildly unpopular move — playing politics with a hostage release.
It was playing more politics in announcing new, minor sanctions (a slap over Iran’s latest illegal missile tests) once the plane carrying the hostages was safely in the air.
Third is that President Obama has given up so much to get here — the latest sanctions undone, and others set aside just to get Tehran to the table to start the nuke talks.
Obama & Co. insist the nuclear understanding will pave the way to better Iranian behavior, but none of our allies in the region — from the Israelis to the Saudis — buys it.
Instead, they’re figuring out what they have to do to guard their own security now that America no longer has their backs.
The American people, meanwhile, have their own figuring to do.