Every confrontation with Iran has a phase which is much more important to the Iranians than the physical outcome.

It’s the humiliation phase, in which the Iranians get to exploit photos and video showing their opponents as weak and the Iranians as strong.

We saw it throughout the U.S. Embassy hostage drama in 1979-1980, in which the hostages were paraded in front of the cameras and crowds.

Iran Hostage Crisis

The 10 U.S. sailors were released earlier today after Iran seized two small U.S. Navy boats yesterday. Iran demanded an apology and is claiming it got one, though the U.S. denies that. There is no doubt, however, that the pathetic and delusional John Kerry openly thanked the Iranians:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday thanked Iran for its cooperation in the release of 10 sailors who had mistakenly entered Iran’s territorial waters, an incident that stoked international tension.

“I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation ‎in swiftly resolving this matter,” Kerry said in a statement. “That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong.”

Iran taunted, among others, the U.S. Congress, and made clear the seizure was to send a message:

Iran has now released video and photos of U.S. sailors surrendering. That’s a key visual image for the Iranians — they are powerful and we are weak.

A female U.S. sailor was forced to wear a hijab:

Much like the firing of rockets a few days ago near a large U.S. warship, the Iranians are taunting and humiliating us. And the Obama administration doesn’t care, because it doesn’t think the way the rest of us do. It’s in Jimmy Carter mode.

It would be foolish to think that the humiliation phase is just about ego. Rather, the taunting that takes place almost daily is a critical piece of the Iranian strategy — to show that it can do whatever it wants whenever it wants, including claiming to lock missiles on a U.S. carrier.

The lack of reaction from the Obama administration encourages the Iranians to believe they are right in their strategy.

The Iranians have Obama between a rock and a hard place. He has invested his legacy on the Iranian nuke deal, and nothing the Iranians do will shake him from his delusional belief that the Mullahs have changed.