This morning I saw that Iranian news agencies are disseminating on social media photos of a U.S. Navy sailor (or sailors) crying while they were being held captive by elements of the Iranian military last month. I'm not going to publish the photos here because I don't want to help their cause in humiliating the American military or any of its fighting men. But I will link to an American news report on the matter in the photo below.
You may recall that when the American vessels and their crew were captured the official story was that they had drifted off course. Then the story changed to they had engine trouble and their radios broke down so they couldn't call for help. Then the story changed to the sailors intentionally maneuvering their boats into Iranian territorial waters, but only because they were mistaken about where they were. Driver error.
The world was treated to the photo above, and others like it, with Americans on their knees at gunpoint submitting to the mighty men of Iran. The Iranian government and military used these Americans for every ounce of propaganda value they could extract. Iran used social media, photos and video to humiliate, demean, shame & embarrass the United States. A nation which - according to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry - is now our friend and ally. Notably, Iran themselves still maintain that they are an enemy of the great satan United States.
The episode ended with President Obama and John Kerry actually thanking Iran for taking the American sailors captive and promising that it would never happen again. Oh, and giving Iran billions of dollars as proof that we were thankful.
This all reminds me of the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter was presiding over one crisis after another and being humiliated around the world. I was in junior high school at that time. I remember teachers and adults bemoaning that it seemed as if the wheels had come off the United States and nobody respected us anymore. Carter tried to reassure Americans that the lousy economy was the new normal. That shortages were the new normal. That the days of American greatness around the world were over. That we were just going to have to learn to deal with all this aggressive behavior because that's just the way the world was now. It was a way of saying "It's not my fault. There's nothing anybody can do about it."
During the amazing rebound in the 1980s and early '90s and America's total and complete victory in the Cold War, most people remembered how rotten life was under a weak, ineffective leader. And nobody wanted to return to that. Bush was moderately squishy and Ross Perot's entry into the 1992 presidential race split the GOP vote and handed the Presidency to Bill Clinton who only managed 43% of the vote. A blowout loss in a normal year. And even though Clinton's term in office has been described by one insider as "an eight year party", the GOP Congress worked well with him to keep a decent economy and the Carter days of apathy got farther back in people's memories. Then after eight years of George W. Bush and accusations that he was too proactive at projecting U.S. force around the world, in 2008 it had been 28 years since Jimmy Carter's worldwide display of weakness. A lot of people who remembered the Carter years had passed away or were very old. Replaced by a lot of younger people who were too young, or not even born, during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.
There was only a dim national memory of what life in the world is like for America with a weak Commander in Chief. There seemed to be a presumption that anyone could do it. And Obama and his followers passed him off as a genius. An intellectual giant following behind the ignoramus they claimed President Bush to be. If the previous President could use U.S. military might around the world, how hard could it possibly be for someone like Mr. Obama? As it's turned out, Barack Obama is not the genius he was portrayed to be. And commanding respect around the world is much more difficult than he and his followers thought.
And so here we are again. With a weak President who simultaneously blames others for all his problems while denying that the problems exist at all. Americans are beheaded on YouTube videos, The USA is mocked around the world and Iran is publicly humiliating the U.S. military as a demonstration of their supposed superiority. All while the President tells us that Iran is our friend, actually thanks them for their treatment of our servicemen and gives them billion of dollars.
For those of you not old enough to remember the 1970s, THIS is what life was like under Jimmy Carter. Only it's worse now. It doesn't have to be this way. I hope the lesson of life with a squishy, weak President doesn't fade from the national memory again during my lifetime.