By Roger Aronoff ~
The mainstream media cannot stand that the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, in depicting the violence in Benghazi and the heroism of the Global Response Staff (GRS), has a straightforward common-sense message. Instead, reporters like Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post see fit to mock that heroism, and even suggest that President Obama’s latest appeasement to Iran deserves equal Hollywood fame.
“But, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry secured the release of American prisoners in Iran just hours after ‘13 Hours’ opened, the movie’s simplistic, shooting-good-talking-bad moral scheme began to ring impressively false,” argues Hornaday. “Maybe one day, State Department envoy Brett McGurk, who led the team that negotiated the release, will get his own big-screen blockbuster, even if it doesn’t feature prominent biceps, heavy ordnance and a careening SUV with its wheels on fire.”
A key message of 13 Hours, and the Benghazi scandal, is that the GRS’s gun-toting heroism wouldn’t have been necessary if President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hadn’t been derelict in their duty to secure the U.S. Special Mission Compound beforehand, or to provide military support to the Americans once the shooting started.
It has been President Obama’s disastrous policies that have put Americans in harm’s way abroad. It was also his recent decision to swap five American hostages in exchange for seven Iranians convicted of or charged with violating sanctions, as well as the removal of 14 Iranians from an Interpol watch list. Of course it is great that the Americans have been released, but at what price?
“As unbelievable as it will be for a lot of people, the two channels [the Iran agreement and prisoner swap] were really separate,” an unnamed U.S. official told Robin Wright of The New Yorker. Yet Iran released these hostages at this opportune time. Unbelievable is a good word for it.
The latest developments with Iran prove one thing: President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been right. Their diplomatic strategic patience brought us to the point where we could make such a great deal with Iran. “Iran gets back men who were assisting its military ambitions while we get innocents,” writes The Wall Street Journal. “This is similar to the lopsided prisoner swaps that Mr. Obama previously made with Cuba for Alan Gross and the Taliban for alleged deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.”
In addition to the exchange of prisoners for hostages, Iran will be receiving upwards of $55 billion (the figure cited by Secretary Kerry)-although The New York Times is reporting that the number is “roughly $100 billion,” and others say it is closer to $150 billion-of their previously frozen assets which have been unavailable to them, and which will now support whatever they choose to invest in. That will certainly include their continued support of jihadist and terrorist organizations across the globe.
The media continue to fail to report truthfully about the Iran deal. CNN’s anchor Wolf Blitzer is still peddling the falsehood that Iran and the P5+1 have a signed deal, and that, so far Iran, is living up to its end.
“Do they formally sit down around a table to sign some sort of document, some sort of international agreement?” asked Blitzer of correspondent Nic Robertson who was in Vienna, Austria on Saturday as the world was waiting for the official release of American hostages and Iranian frozen assets. “We know they did that several months ago when they announced the nuclear deal, but as far as implementation, is there some sort of diplomatic protocol we should anticipate?”
As we have repeatedly cited, there is no signed Iran deal, only a set of political obligations that Iran can interpret whatever way it wants. Is it possible that Blitzer and his producers are unaware of that? And there is no verification that Iran is living up to its end of the non-deal, other than the IAEA’s certification. By many accounts, those guarantees don’t count for much, as there are many locations off limits to inspectors. No one has seen the agreement between the IAEA and Iran-including President Obama or Secretary Kerry, to hear them tell it-and Iran has a history of deceit. In the end, they didn’t even have to account for the possible military dimensions (PMD) of their nuclear program.
Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy-formerly of the CIA and DIA-has put together an incredible list of Iran’s violations of both the spirit and the letter of this non-agreement in an article on the Fox News website, as well as the astonishing list of concessions the Obama administration made in order to claim that they got a deal that will halt Iran’s path toward nuclear weapons. For example, the fact that Iran shipped some of its enriched uranium to Russia, which was hailed by The New York Times as “one of the biggest achievements in his [Obama’s] foreign policy record…,” is another shell game. Actually, according to Fleitz, “this was a swap for an equivalent amount of uranium ore that can be converted into enriched uranium in a few months.”
Virtually every restriction in the “deal” is not what it claims to be.
Again, according to Fleitz:
“How can Obama officials say this nuclear deal is a great diplomatic success?
The answer to these questions is this: because the Obama administration wanted a legacy nuclear agreement with Iran so badly they made any concession necessary to get one.
When Iranian officials refused to give up their uranium enrichment program, the U.S. said they could keep it.
When Iran balked on including restrictions on ballistic missile tests in the agreement, they were removed.
To get around Tehran’s refusal to answer questions about its past nuclear weapons work, this issue was moved into a secret side deal between the IAEA and Iran.”
And there’s much more that’s wrong with this deal. You should read Fleitz’s column in its entirety.
Again, Iran is able to take U.S. sailors and force them onto their knees at gunpoint, and force a sailor to apologize on camera for entering Iranian waters. And since they were released, an Iranian backed Shiite militia in Iraq has captured three American contractors. CBS News reported that the Obama administration had “hoped” that Iran would have shown restraint in having their militias kidnapping Americans, at least for a while.
How well did Iran treat our guys, besides forcing them at gunpoint to put their hands behind their heads? The administration has argued that the 10 sailors were treated well.
Maybe with our new relationship, the Iranians just asked our sailors politely to do this staged video, and they went along with it.
“It was a mistake. That was our fault, and we apologize for our mistake,” said one sailor in an Iranian video.
Secretary of State John Kerry actually thanked the Iranians for their proper treatment of our American sailors. Seriously. “I could not be and I know the President could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform,” said Secretary Kerry, according to the Hill. “I also want to thank the Iranian authorities for their cooperation and quick response.”
CNN has heralded this as part of “The Week That Changed U.S.-Iran Relations…”
Other presidents might have wanted to make an international issue about the capture of members of our military. But as President Obama likes to present in his frequent straw-man arguments, there are only two choices: place hundreds of thousands of troops in harms way, or be smart like him and avoid using force unless absolutely necessary. During his victory lap on Sunday, he said, “This is a good day, because, once again, we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy,” adding, “We’ve achieved this historic progress through diplomacy, without resorting to another war in the Middle East.” It depends on what the definition of “progress” is.
Some experts in the field believe that Iran already has nuclear weapons. Iran has never acknowledged a military use for its enrichment and ballistic missile programs.
The U.S. finally did impose some sanctions “against 11 people and companies involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program,” according to USA Today. The Wall Street Journal called them “very limited sanctions.” “We will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously,” said President Obama. “We are going to remain vigilant about it.”
But what is not stated-besides the fact that there is no signed deal, and no agreed upon terms-is that the sanctions regime has been largely a charade as well.
Before the recent sanctions relief, the U.S. could not sufficiently track Iranian oil tankers around the globe. As of March 2015, there were 51 Iranian oil tankers under U.S. sanctions, yet the U.S. government could not “establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business,” wrote Claudia Rosett for The Wall street Journal last year.
“They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship,” wrote Rosett. “But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees.” Even in 2012, the U.S. granted exemptions to 11 nations importing Iranian oil, according to Bloomberg at the time.
“Iran has again shown the world that taking American hostages while Barack Obama is President can yield a diplomatic and military windfall,” states The Wall Street Journal.
While President Obama and most of the media tout diplomacy to deal with Iran’s misdeeds, and claim that America has a new relationship with this theocratic, totalitarian regime, more hostages will inevitably be taken. And more blood, sweat, and tears may be shed as a result of this administration’s disastrous policies.
The media must do their job and look critically at these issues, rather than assume the role of enabler for President Obama’s phony and dangerous legacy.