In 1801 the Barbary pirates, a collection of Muslim city-states along the North African coast of the Mediterranean Sea, were making life miserable for American ship captains and their crews. The pirates drew significant income by seizing American merchant vessels and then holding the ships and crews for ransom. The United States, a newly independent nation with no significant armed forces of any kind, seemed doomed to continue to bow and scrape and pay off the brigands.
President Thomas Jefferson, known more for the power of his pen than his sword, thought differently. He pushed Congress to increase the size of the Navy. He dispatched the United States Marine Corps, which would enshrine the subsequent conflict in the reference to the “shores of Tripoli” in its battle hymn. The United States then responded to demands for payment with shot and shell and the pirates sued for peace.
The principles were established. Americans do not pay ransom.
Harm our citizens at your peril. We do not do business with pirates.
A full 213 years later, President Barack Obama, commander in chief of the mightiest military on earth, faced the same test and was found wanting. He dispatched $400 million in cash to Tehran to buy the release of four American hostages and then lied to the American people and denied he had done so. Two days later he did it again, this time sending the Iranians 13 separate payments totaling $1.3 billion.
As humiliating as these actions are, however, attention being paid to them by the press misses the larger and much more significant story. We are not just paying off Tehran. We are standing by and watching as the Iranians, and their thuggish Syrian and Russian allies, spread chaos and destruction across the Middle East. The regional balance of power that has existed since World War II is being shredded, our Arab allies are under attack, and we are not lifting a finger to stop it.
Having bet his “legacy” on the illusory Iran nuclear deal and having staked his credibility on the fiction that Iran has somehow been transformed into a force for good, this president and his administration are now trapped within the walls of that fiction. No matter what Iran does, the appearance must be maintained that our security has been enhanced and the world is a better place.
Russian bombers fly from Iranian bases and devastate civilian targets in Syria. The already catastrophic body count in that wretched nation grows even greater.
No protest is made. No action is taken.
In Iraq 100,000 Shia militiamen, trained, equipped and lead by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, are leaving a trail of destruction as they march across the Sunni heartland of Anbar.
This is no war of national reconciliation. It is a war of annihilation, which will either destroy the Sunni Arabs of Iraq or, more likely, guarantee that the country remains gripped by sectarian warfare.
This administration ignores the body count, flies air cover and assures us all is well.
In Bahrain, home to the headquarters of our Fifth Fleet, Iranian intelligence operatives arm and train Shia terrorists, while Tehran claims that the island nation is really Persian. We remain silent.
In Yemen, Shia Houthi rebels armed and trained by Iran tear the nation apart and launch repeated missile attacks on Saudi Arabia’s civilian centers. We do nothing to address the situation other than to express concern about the tactics our Saudi allies have used in responding to the crisis on their doorstep.
Congress makes noises about sanctioning Saudi Arabia for having the audacity to defend themselves from Iranian aggression, forgetting that Saudi Arabia sent more men and material to fight alongside the United States in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the battle of Khafji than any other coalition ally.
Our president stands silent on the sidelines.
General Ali Falaki, leader of Iran’s forces in Syria, brags that Iran has created a Shiite “liberation” army that “now fights on three fronts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.” In Tehran members of government crow that their military controls four Arab capitals, Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and Sanaa.
Our president goes golfing.
Iranian naval vessels fire rockets across the bow of a U.S. aircraft carrier, seize American naval vessels transiting the Persian Gulf and stage simulated attacks on a U.S. destroyer.
Our response is to have a Pentagon spokesman deem the Iranian actions unprofessional.
The American people have every right to be outraged by this administration’s payoffs to Iran and the transparently deceitful way in which those payoffs were hidden. The truth is, those ransom payments to modern day Barbary Pirates are only a small piece of a much larger, much more terrifying picture.
Our president has subordinated everything and everyone to the principle that his disastrous fantasy détente with Tehran must be protected. Nothing else matters, and no price is too high to maintain that illusion.
In a very real sense, it is not individual Americans who are being held hostage by brigands — it is our entire foreign policy.
Charles S. Faddis, retired CIA operations officer, led the first CIA team into Iraq (in 2002) and retired as head of CIA’s Counterterrorism WMD unit. He is a senior counterterrorism editor for Homeland Security Today and a contributor to EpicTimes.com, Andmagazine.com, Fox News, and OANN.com. He also is a former congressional candidate and consultant to the U.S. government on military/intel issues. He is the author of “Beyond Repair” (on the need for intel reform). Faddis is a U.S. Army veteran and former assistant attorney general. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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