Obama’s Feckless Dealings With Iran

 In Foreign, opinion, Politics

The New York Times, New York Post, Associated Press and USAToday, among a host of other media outlets, are reporting that the $400 million paid to Iran, was contingent on the release of American prisoners.

According to the NY Times article, “For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans.”

The Times also stated, “Republicans opposed to the nuclear deal President Obama reached with Iran have described the payment as ransom and a further sign of his administration’s feckless dealings with Tehran.”

Obama defenders will no doubt argue that since the money was in fact Iran’s, the administration simply did the right thing in returning it. As such, it was smart to use the money as leverage to bring about the release of Americans held prisoner.

Ransom or Leverage

However, “the deal” has a lot more to it than the return of money owed. Denial of the obvious use of that leverage is just one component; what the administration formerly represented as simply coincidental timing, has now been more truthfully presented as two negotiations that are connected.

Whether it’s called “ransom” or “leverage” is a matter of opinion and perspective.

In fact, Obama has turned the return of cash to into just another stop on his World Apology Tour. He views the Iranians as victims and is so eager to play champion of the oppressed, he doesn’t consider consequences, unintended or otherwise.

One of those consequences is the Iranian response. The above referenced New York article states, “But the Iranian press has described the payment as a ransom — which fits Tehran’s narrative that it has outmaneuvered the Obama administration.”

Obama’s feckless handling  of the payment

It’s no surprise that the Iranian press labeled the deal “payment of ransom”, and it’s also no surprise that the Obama administration didn’t see that coming, or didn’t care. And while there’s no way to control the press (nor should there be) , Obama has repeatedly shown he doesn’t care and is extremely naïve about the consequences of presentation and positioning, especially when dealing with other countries.


Screenshot – the timing of that payment may have helped release the prisoners, but it looked bad and played into the narrative of our enemies.

Looks like we DO negotiate with terrorists

Does the reaction of the Iranian press matter? That remains to be seen, but Iran and will represent “the deal” as proof that the United States DOES negotiate with terrorists.

There may be no way to prevent that, but had the administration taken the offense in what was sure to become an image war, it could have discredited, or at least floated a cloud of doubt over claims of a ransom payment having been made.

Instead, Obama provided a brush for an enemy state to paint his administration as being ineffective and easy to out-maneuver.

Timing is everything –  Obama blew it

The reality of the matter is that the United States has been holding money paid by the Iranians for military hardware that was never delivered. The hardware was sold to the shah of Iran, but the United States put the deal on ice following the Iranian revolution and the 1979 taking of hostages at the American embassy. Since then, Iranian leaders have demanded return of the money paid and the United States has refused.

Thirty-five years ago, a commission was established at The Hague to resolve Iran’s claim against the United States. Recently, it became apparent that the United States would be required to return Iran’s original payment, plus interest. The only issue in dispute was the amount of interest.

With payment to Iran being imminent, it was a smart move to use that payment as leverage for the release of prisoners. However, such a deal has “payment of ransom” written all over it. Rather than attempt to address that issue up front, the Obama administration ignored it and in so doing, again demonstrated it is unqualified for its position on the world stage.

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