In January of this year (2016), the United States paid $400 Million dollars to Iran. The Obama Administration asserts that the payment was the result of a decades old dispute between Iran and the United States, stemming from some sort of arms deal the two countries had during the disastrous run of the former Shah of Iran. President Obama recently explained that the United States was being sued for the return of that money and faced exposure of billions of dollars should America lose the case. In short, it was better for America to settle out of court. So, we did.
Of course in the world of politics, nothing is better. On the same day that the money was released, American hostages were also released. So of course, the appearance was that the United States paid a ransom for the release of the hostages. I don’t believe that was the case. For a more accurate case that the money wasn’t a ransom payment I direct you to an article in Fortune magazine written by Shawn Tully, http://fortune.com/2016/08/05/money-america-iran/. Mr. Tully doesn’t make a call one way or the other, he just lays out the facts of the transaction as known and lets the reader make the call. Read his article and draw your own conclusions. I won’t do that here.
My question here is what if the payment had been a ransom payment, or at least a form of ransom payment? What if our government had decided that since we owed Iran the money anyway, lets give it to them and get some returned hostages tossed in as well. Oh no, the critics cry. We paid for hostages. No, no our government maintains; We didn’t! Oh yes you did pay a ransom, the critics insist.
But what’s to be gained by that insistence? No criminal charges will be filed. President Obama is not up for reelection. Hillary Clinton wasn’t tied to the transaction in any way shape or form. So why the insistence? To further some narrative that the our president is weak? That our government is weak? What’s to be gained in that assertion? Let me tell you…absolutely nothing. There is nothing to be gained by insisting that the Obama Administration is lying about the payment. What will happen though. What runs the risk of happening is more Americans being kidnapped and more kidnappers insisting that ransoms be paid or hostages will be killed despite what our official stance is. Please Republicans! In one instance, put the country ahead of politics. Our stance is we don’t pay ransoms. Despite any political point you wish to make, please resist the temptation to do so. There is nothing to win by making it. Please think of Americans who must travel in hostile countries or near hostile countries now. Please don’t encourage future kidnappers to snatch these Americans because the kidnappers think we pay ransoms. Our country’s official stance is that we don’t. Get it?