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November 18, 2009
Jimmy Carter still spinning his incompetent response to hostage crisis
Jimmy Carter, during a humanitarian visit to China on Monday, defended his handling of the hostage crisis in Iran 30 years ago this month. That's when Islamist militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. It was a major humiliation for America, and it emboldened terrorists and thugs everywhere. China Daily quotes the feckless former president as saying:
My main advisers insisted that I should attack Iran. I could have destroyed Iran with my weaponry. But I felt in the process it was likely the hostages' lives would be lost, and I didn't want to kill 20,000 Iranians. So I didn't attack.
Missing from this story is why the hostage crisis in fact dragged on as long as it did. Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis offered this interesting insight a few years ago in an article he authored for the New Yorker , "The Revolt of Islam." He wrote:
One of the most surprising revelations in the memoirs of those who held the American Embassy in Teheran from 1979 to 1981 was that their original intention had been to hold the building and the hostages for only a few days. They changed their minds when statements from Washington made it clear that there was no danger of serious action against them. They finally released the hostages, they explained, only because they feared that the new President, Ronald Reagan, might approach the problem "like a cowboy."
Reagan, of course, famously stated that "We don't care if they like us or not. We intend to be respected throughout the world."
Of course, thugs and tyrants seldom respect "dialogue" -- but they do respect those who stand by their ideals and are willing to use force to back them. It's a lesson that neither Carter nor President Obama have ever learned in their eagerness to have the world like them.