PowerLine – Obama’s Iran Policy, Explained

PowerLine – Obama’s Iran Policy, Explained

The U.S-Iran prisoner swap — another bad deal, but not scandalous

Posted: 16 Jan 2016 02:56 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

Iran and the U.S. have swapped prisoners. The mullahs reportedly have released four of our guys including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. We reportedly have released seven of theirs.

Swapping prisoners is something a nation occasionally does with its enemies. I think it’s almost unheard between non-enemy nations or entities.

Sometimes, prisoner swaps are scandalous. Releasing terrorists in exchange for a deserter like Beau Bergdal is an example. So, in my opinion, are the lop-sided deals Israel strikes with its sworn enemies in which hundreds of terrorists are released in exchange for one Israeli.

The exchange of seven Iranians for four Americans doesn’t strike me as scandalous, though there may be facts I’m not aware of that make it so. Iran, I assume, got the better of the deal, but the bad guys typically do in these cases.

It does strike me as borderline scandalous, though, that John Kerry is touting the deal as evidence of the fruit of the Obama administration’s capitulation to Iran on nukes:

Officials in Vienna said that the prisoner swap and the nuclear deal were related, but only loosely. Mr. Kerry clearly wanted to be able to tell many critics of the deal in Congress that he had gotten more than just the nuclear concessions; he wanted to make the case that the new channels of communication between Tehran and Washington were proving fruitful in other areas.

How “fruitful” is a deal in which they get seven prisoners back in exchange for four? That sounds like a negative return on the $150 billion or so we’re in the process of handing to the mullahs.

In this regard, it should be noted that Iran declined to release Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American business consultant who worked for a United Arab Emirates-based oil company and was seized in Tehran in mid-October. Obviously, the administration didn’t insist on his release, even though Iran would still have come out ahead numerically had Namizi been part of the trade.

In addition to releasing the seven Iranians — all of whom reportedly were in custody for sanctions violations — the Obama administration rescinded international arrest warrants on 14 other Iranians suspected of sanctions violations. The U.S. says, however, that none of the people released or let off the hook were involved in crimes of violence or terrorism.

If true, we can be thankful that Team Obama’s cravenness has limits that weren’t apparent in the Bergdahl deal.

The reactions of various Republican presidential candidates have been fairly predictable. The dovish Rand Paul said that the release is “a sign that we need to continue to try to see if negotiations will work.” I see it as a sign that this administration will continue to be outnegotiated.

So does Donald Trump. He stated that he’s “happy they’re coming back” but that Iran got the better of the deal. I’m no Trump fan, but I suspect he would have negotiated something more favorable.

Marco Rubio and Chris Christie said that Obama shouldn’t be negotiating with Iran. Rubio explained that “when you do deals like the Bergdahl deal and other things, you are incentivizing people to take Americans hostage and prisoner even if they’ve done nothing wrong.” True, though the likes of the Taliban and the Iranian regime have all the incentive they need to take American prisoners, with or without swaps.

That the administration should stop negotiating with Iran, as Rubio and Christie say, is true in about the same sense that an amateur gambler who has already lost ten of thousands of dollars at the tables should stop betting and go home. Unfortunately, Obama keeps negotiating for the same reasons the gambler keeps betting: (1) he knows he’s behind and wants to be able to tell the folks at home he came out at least even and (2) he’s compulsive.

Lies of Guantanamo

Posted: 16 Jan 2016 05:46 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

In the Age of Obama, we are living by lies. Prevarication seems to be the operative principle. President Obama’s declared goal of emptying our detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is supported by many lies, including one he reiterated during his State of the Union remarks earlier this week. According to Obama, Guantanamo is a recruiting tool for terrorists. However, Obama is more of a recruiting tool than Guantanamo. Senator Tom Cotton refutes this and other Guantanamo related lies in this FOX News column.

Today’s Wall Street Journal delivers the column of the day, by Steve Hayes and Tom Joscelyn: “The terrorists freed by Obama” (accessible here via Google, I hope). Subhead: “The president has misled the American people about the detainees released from Guantanamo: Dozens are jihadists ready to kill.” The devil is in the details and the details are devastating.

Rambling on her mind

Posted: 16 Jan 2016 05:26 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

Morning Joe cohost Mika Brzezinski is a Democratic true believer. She self-identifies as a Hillary Clinton voter in the event Hillary is the party’s nominee. Yet she confesses to puzzlement about the “core message” of Madam Hillary’s presidential campaign. She sought clarification from the lady herself during a telephone interview yesterday morning, asking what the “core message” of her presidential campaign is (video below).

Madam Hillary rambles on for several minutes. She’s got rambling on her mind. She seems to be free associating. Alzheimer’s has something to do with the “core message” of her campaign. The free association winds into the obligatory clichés. Well before the rambling concludes, she seeks to condense her message “at the end of the day.” After “the end of the day,” her message is “rooted in her decades of work.” Let’s make that “work.” Mark Paoletta provides a timely reminder of the chores she has performed in the course of her public service over the decades.

To Ed Driscoll, Hillary’s rambling calls to mind Ted Kennedy’s disjointed response to Roger Mudd about his prospective challenge to Jimmy Carter in 1979. Ed links to Chris Whipple’s remembrance of that episode here. That is a close and useful analogy. To me, Hillary’s rambling calls to mind late Elvis as he struggled with the spoken interlude in “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”

Via Alyssa Canobbio/Washington Free Beacon.

The Week in Pictures: Jumbo Lotto Edition

Posted: 16 Jan 2016 03:49 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

So we didn’t win the lottery. At least the state of the union is strong. Pay no attention to the crashing stock market, the slowing economy, the humiliation at the hands of Iran, the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees, and the inability of the Vikings to kick a 27-yard field goal. Or that fact that a Trump-Sanders could be the presidential choice 10 months from now. Who could have forecast the odds of that? Where can I buy more lottery tickets?

 

And finally, from our friends at the IDF:

 

Obama’s Iran Policy, Explained

Posted: 15 Jan 2016 08:20 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)

Many, including us, have criticized John Kerry and other members of the Obama administration for praising effusively Iran’s treatment of captured U.S. sailors. We and many others have pointed out that, far from meriting praise and thanks, Iran’s humiliation of the captured sailors, including filming videos of them in submissive postures and forcing one of the sailors to apologize for intruding on Iranian waters, along with forcing the lone female crew member to comply with Sharia law by wearing a headscarf, was not only offensive but violated the Geneva Conventions.

Despite these criticisms, the administration has not revoked its praise and thanks to the mullahs. Instead, it has mostly fallen silent. However, in today’s press briefing by State Department spokesman John Kirby, we did learn why the administration has not charged Iran with violation of the Geneva accords:

QUESTION: Did you get an answer to the question that I – I think you had said you would take on whether L regards the Geneva Conventions and – as applying to the U.S. soldiers that were in – the U.S. sailors, excuse me, that were in Iranian custody?

MR KIRBY: Yeah, I – my – what – my comments yesterday still stand.

QUESTION: So in other words, you’re not at war, therefore they’re not prisoners of war, therefore Geneva Conventions don’t apply?

MR KIRBY: We’re not in armed conflict with Iran, and there’s been no legal determination to that effect. So my comments still stand.

Got that? If we were at war with Iran, their treatment of our sailors would violate the Geneva Conventions. However, since we are NOT at war with Iran, the Iranians are free to abuse our military personnel at will, and, far from seeking redress, we are grateful to them. That is, folks, the officially stated position of the Obama administration, hard as it may be to believe.

Over the years, we have expressed harsh views of Barack Obama’s foreign policies. But not, I am afraid, harsh enough. Michael Ramirez describes Obama’s Iran policy graphically. Click to enlarge:

 

 

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