‘Incident’ with Iran demonstrates Obama’s point perfectly

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In his final State of the Union address last night, President Obama cautioned his fellow Americans against would-be leaders who want to respond to the rest of the world with only “tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians,” who seek to gain political advantage by exaggerating the threats against us and by instilling fear rather than confidence in the American people.

“That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately will weaken us,” Obama warned. “It’s the lesson of Vietnam. It’s the lesson of Iraq, and we should have learned it by now.”

As it happens, fate had arranged a little real-life demonstration of Obama’s point, playing out even as he spoke. A few hours earlier, two American patrol boats operating in the Persian Gulf had drifted more than a mile into Iranian territorial waters, where they had naturally been picked up by Iranian authorities. Apparently at least one of the boats had suffered some sort of mechanical breakdown. The boats and their 10 crew members were then taken to a nearby Iranian military base while people figured out what had happened and how they could be returned.

From the very beginning, that was the approach taken by both Iranian and American authorities. Both parties were willing to accept the innocent intent of the other until proved otherwise. But the response from top conservatives was quite different.

Marco Rubio called the Iranian action “provocative, absolutely,” concluding that “You’re only going to see a continued pattern of provocation, as long as a weak president like Barack Obama is in the White House.”

“If our sailors aren’t coming home yet, they need to be now,” Jeb Bush said. “No more bargaining. Obama’s humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton called it “an openly hostile action” by Iran, which of course implies the need for an openly hostile response by the United States. And Ted Cruz called it “the latest manifestation of the weakness of Barack Obama,” complaining that “our enemies don’t fear us.”

Yet as dawn broke over the Persian Gulf a few hours after Obama’s speech, the two U.S. Navy vessels with all 10 American sailors safely aboard were released into international waters. Just like that, it was over. A little incident that some had tried to exaggerate into something major — a “provocation”, “an openly hostile action” — had been resolved calmly, swiftly and civilly.  The only people who ended up embarrassed in the situation were those who had rushed immediately to judgment, demanding an aggressive U.S. response that might have touched off an equally aggressive response by the Iranians.

And let’s put this into historic context. Obama didn’t buy back our sailors with secret shipments of missiles and other weapons, as President Reagan did in attempting to recover Americans held hostage by the Iranians a generation ago. Our sailors weren’t held for almost two weeks by the Iranians, with their ships dismantled and held hostage until what amounted to a ransom was paid, as occurred in an incident involving the Chinese and an American spy plane under President George W. Bush.

Instead, they were released promptly and respectfully. If this outcome is “just an indication of where the hell we’re going,” as Donald Trump angrily described it, then we seem to be going to a somewhat more sane and thoughtful approach to international relations.

But hey, with an election looming, that could change. If you prefer a knee-jerk, angry response from leaders who rush to judgment and can’t be bothered to wait even a few hours to see how things work out, you will clearly have a chance to vote for such a candidate.

Reader Comments 0

442 comments
juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

yes, but war is big business to the military industrial complex.  nothing the GOP likes more than business, especially when they and their donors stand to profit nicely from it.  

lvg
lvg

El Rushbo was going beserk today over Nicki Haley and Paul Ryan disrespecting the conservatives. El Rushbo thinks Cruz and Trump are the saviors of the GOP. Same people listen to all three  buffoons.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

@lvg


It sure sounds like you've been listening to El Rushbo- in fact it sounds like you hang on his every word. 

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

finally, some chatter coming from the harbor.

It seems the first boat lost power (mechanical), the 2nd boat and an Iranian boat came to render aid, which is the nice thing to do in that situation. Incident report required and executed exactly in the manner that is customary. The end.

ohhhhhh the humaniteh!

you know who looks reeeeallly weak is the pissants that will say and do anything to try try to get something on the CiC. Pissy weak. Weaselly weak.

JayBook
JayBook moderator

Fresh sheets upstairs

gotalife
gotalife

Media still lying about Iran after they helped us.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Democrats don't have an immigration problem as they were willing to pass the failed Rubio bill. Business does not have an immigration problem as they know how to work the system.

Republicans are the only folks with an immigration problem. I wonder why. Socisl status? Education ? Why?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Over at Kyle's he says Haley not Trump represent conservatives on immigration.

Makes sense. That's why Rubio so embraces his failed immigration bill.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

With both houses Republicans could send a bill to Obama that makes E-verify mandatory with severe punishment. Why not do that?

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

@JeffreyEav To get the best of both worlds. Cheap labor and campaign contribution while they rail against illigal immigration. If there were no jobs, people would not come here. 

ByteMe
ByteMe

@RaindroidWillBoy Of course, but the GOP base doesn't want that.  They want their melons picked by magic negroes instead.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

Iran commandeers two Navy vessels, captures 10 sailors and you guys want to send them a Hallmark card and a box of Whitman chocolates.  Anything to preserve the "nuclear" deal, huh?

ByteMe
ByteMe

@JeffreyEav 60 million gallons of alcohol consumed in Iran last year.  (Just spotted that in Time this week)

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Nick_Danger @DownInAlbany It would not have been to apologize and thank them for their release.  It would not have been bombing the bejesus out of them, either.  Condemning their reaction, demanding their immediate release would be a good start.  Promises of economic sanctions IF their recent trend of bad behavior continues.  Tell 'em, we are going to keep the $180 billion.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Visual_Cortex If an Iranian boat (these were not ships, they were small boats) accidentally wanders into San Diego bay, we're supposed to not hold the sailors at gunpoint?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I wanted to send bourbon but that was frowned on. Turns out they don't drink, like Trump.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

That was just a couple of months of UN inspectors.

RaindroidWillBoy
RaindroidWillBoy

What is the plan to get the 5 american citizens being held in Iranian prisons home?  The sanctions lifting is in a matter of days...wonder what impact that had on all of this...


I saw video of the sailors on their knees with hands on head being held a loose gunpoint....be good if we could get those citizens back..

gotalife
gotalife

We do have a chance for a better politics with bush and turning off horrible media.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@gotalife Hate begets hate.


“It was really mind blowing that people would...spend and waste their money of all this hateful stuff to send out here to us,” he said in the video. “Rather than going out and doing good, they spend all their money on hate, and hate, and hate, and hate.”

RantNRave
RantNRave

@Got


Maybe the militiaman would have 


preferred a pet  !

breckenridge
breckenridge

@gotalife 

I have my suspicions that the Home Guard is going to get pulled into this mess.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Earlier today the 6th mass shooting of 2016 took place, this one in Federal Way, Washington. And it was a bad one - 5 killed, 0 injured.  For the year mass shootings (4 or more shot) in America have claimed 11 lives and left 16 injured.


So......where is all that San Berdoo outrage?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I saw a Hillary ad today praising Obama's recent gun order. That's pretty big for this gun obsessed country of ours.

gotalife
gotalife

cruz is finally firing back at trump calling him a New Yorker. That means lib.


bush is moving up and will win it.

Paul42
Paul42

@gotalife

He know he can't carry NY with its 29 electoral votes, so he uses them as epithets.

Wonder what other states Cruz knows he can't win?

ByteMe
ByteMe

@gotalife Folks on Staten Island take a bit of umbrage at you calling them "lib".