Carter and the hostages
I’m old enough to remember how awful the Carter administration was. (My greatest worry on a Kerry administration was that we’d be reversing to that.) For those of you who don’t remember, the WSJ has a reprint of a Ken Adelman article When America Was Held Hostage published five years ago. Adelman was present when Carter met the hostages, after being released from 444 days in captivity, on the day of the Reagan inaguration. The paragraph that best describes to me Carter’s failings is this:
At the U.S. base in Wiesbaden, West Germany, two CIA doctors briefed us on the torture our diplomats had endured–several beaten with hoses, others put in long solitary confinement, most tormented psychologically in one way or another. Mr. Carter reacted to these poignant descriptions by asking not about the Americans’ condition or whether they would recover, but about Iranian values. “Didn’t they know this was wrong to do?”
After some silence, a doctor standing beside me said he knew nothing about Iranian morals. He was a psychiatrist there to help these bruised Americans.
Mr. Carter then headed off to greet the newly freed hostages, reiterating how he felt that the Iranians must have realized what they were doing was wrong.
Iran’s parliament Sunday unanimously passed a resolution allowing the government to continue its uranium enrichment activities, despite recent efforts by European negotiators to curb the program.
After the vote was passed, several lawmakers stood up and shouted: “Death to America.”
Jimmy Carter’s probably still asking himself “Didn’t they know this was wrong to do?” Europe, on the other hand, hopes Iran would realize what’s right:
During the talks in Vienna — the headquarters of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — negotiators for Britain, Germany and France offered to supply nuclear fuel for Iran’s planned power plants, and to enhance trade and political relations
Twenty-five years ago Reagan, says Kaplan, “welcomed the ex-hostages home with public remarks pledging swift, certain and harsh retaliation for all future terrorism.”
Then, as now, appeasement doesn’t work.