The Iranian government seized 10 U.S. sailors and two ships in the Persian Gulf shortly before President Obama’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday. GPS equipment was taken from the ship, the U.S. issued an apology, the sailors were eventually returned this morning, and now the White House is preparing to unfreeze $100 billion in Iranian assets as part of the summer’s nuclear deal. Iran’s actions were meant to send a message to the world: The United States is a joke. Sadly, it’s hard to argue.
CNN’s Jake Tapper was flabbergasted when White House press secretary Josh Earnest shrugged off the actions of Obama’s diplomatic “partner” as no big deal.
“What do you say to people who say Iran fired upon, not hit, but fired a warning shot of sorts toward an American ship in the last couple of weeks … they test-fired a ballistic missile in the past couple of weeks, and yet, in a few days, they are scheduled to have the relief of all those sanctions?” Tapper said Tuesday night. “The basic question being: This does not seem like a country that is ready to be welcomed back to the community of nations.”
Earnest’s response: But…but…we got a nuclear deal with Iran! A deal, man. Cut us some slack.
“[This] is why the United States and this president made it a priority to organize the international community to reach an agreement with Iran that will prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” said Earnest.
“I hear you, but they have 10 American sailors in custody right now, Josh. I think there are probably a lot of Americans watching right now that are wondering why we are about to give them sanctions relief when they have 10 Americans – wherever they have them. In a boat, in a cell, whatever,” Tapper replied.
To add insult to injury, Iran scolded the U.S. upon the sailors’ return.
“This incident in the Persian Gulf, which probably will not be the American forces’ last mistake in the region, should be a lesson to troublemakers in the U.S. Congress,” Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, head of Iran’s armed forces, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency, Reuters reported.
There were about 10,000 ways Iran could have responded to two U.S. vessels that drifted too close or into its territorial waters, and it chose one of the most aggressive ways possible. It literally took U.S. forces captive and confiscated their equipment.
Ask yourself this question: For all of George W. Bush’s faults, would Iran have pulled a stunt like that under his watch — on the night of the State of the Union, no less?
The answer is “no.”
The country is in a sad place when Iran can seize American sailors with impunity and then laugh as a U.S. president oversees the release of $100 billion in Iranian assets just days later.