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Sen. Ben Sasse Fact Checks White House Claims on Iran Deal

Sen. Ben Sasse Fact Checks White House Claims on Iran Deal

“If something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck — it’s probably a duck.”

Sen. Ben Sasse is not impressed with the Obama Administration’s latest spin on the Iran Deal. Earlier this week, the Republican Senator from Nebraska threw down some real talk on the much touted Iran Deal.

“The Iran Deal is the Obama Administration’s greatest victory in its ongoing war against facts,” Sen. Sasse begins.

In two minutes, Sasse picks apart three of the biggest Iran Deal lies.

No. 1. They said there was no ransom. Well, there was a $400 million dollar cash payment at the exact moment four Americans who’d been held captive in Iran were released. If something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck — it’s probably a duck.

No. 2. The administration has said Israel now somehow supports the Iran Deal. Let’s be clear, Iran is led by a death cult of folks who think they have a divine mandate to annihilate Israel. The Prime Minister came to the U.S. on the eve of the Iran Deal and explained what a disastrous and dire threat the Iran Deal would be for Israel’s future. None of that has changed. Israel does not support the Iran Deal.

No. 3. The Obama administration says that the pathway toward a nuclear Iran has been foreclosed. That’s not true. What the Iran deal does is allow the Iranian government to delay, disrupt, and even deny any meaningful inspections. The Iran Deal allows Iranians to keep their centrifuges, it allows them to continue stockpiling enriched uranium, it allows them to continue their nuclear research program, and allows them to expand their missile arsenal. In what way is that possibly foreclosing the pathway to a nuclear Iran? What it really does is drive the breakout time down to zero.”

those are the facts gif

Thursday, the State Department confirmed the $400 million payment for the exchange of American prisoners was sent as “leverage,” which is apparently Obamaspeak for “ransom”.

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Comments

Always glad to see a truth-teller like Sasse in political office.

It’s a shame the GOPe picked off Huelskamp, but they did.

And a certain anti-conservative, anti-American here did a Snoopy Dance at the news.

“Blowing up the GOP”, indeed…

OnlyRightDissentAllowed | August 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm

“No. 1. They said there was no ransom” From what I understand, the Iranians got money that was theirs as determined by a court and mutual agreement. It was money paid by the Shah for weapons that for obvious reasons were never delivered. The administration withheld the money until the prisoners (hostages – whatever you wish to call them) were released. Then for reasons only politicians understand, the administration seems to have lied about it and shot themselves in the foot – maybe both feet.

It was a political gaffe, not a ransom.

    What court? The reason why this money had not been given to the mullahs before now still applies with the same force: they will use it to kill people and to harm the USA.

    You admit that the Iranians got this money if they released the hostages, and would not get if they didn’t. That’s the definition of a ransom. And they in turn told the hostages that their release was being held up until the plane with the money got to Switzerland. How is that not a quid pro quo?

    If you say it wasn’t really a ransom but we managed to fool them into thinking it was, that only makes it worse, not better! The whole point of not paying ransom is so as not to encourage the bad guys to do it again; if they believe it’s a ransom then it will have the same effect no matter what you think it “really” is.

      DieJustAsHappy in reply to Milhouse. | August 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      The fools of this administration gave the advantage of image and perception concerning this matter to the Iranians. Once again, America is shorted and the other side comes out with a stronger hand.

        OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | August 19, 2016 at 10:16 pm

        See, you are smart. You stick to opinion. Can’t ever argue or prove an opinion. Just call the people you don’t like ‘fools’. Q.E.D.

        For instance, it is my opinion, based on facts, that the 2 Bush’s set the whole damn thing in motion. H.W. encouraged the Shiites to rebel against Saddam after Gulf I and then left them high and dry to get slaughtered and gassed. Then W. invaded the wrong country and didn’t even understand what a Shiite was; let alone that they didn’t trust us because of his father. So W. handed Iraq to Iran and then failed to get a ‘Status of Forces’ agreement which forced us to have to leave Iraq. The Shiites actually didn’t want us there, anyway. They figured they could screw the Sunnis with the help of their brother Shiites next door. How’d that work out?

        But hey, you think the current administration is made up of fools and ‘gave the advantage of image and perception concerning this matter to the Iranians’. OK, you are entitled to your opinion.

        Don’t forget about the sainted Reagan who traded arms for hostages with Iran and then made a televised speech admitting it. But he was no fool. Besides he won the cold war single handed. None of the presidents before him had a hand in winning that war. I guess that would be your opinion. Yep, stick to opinions. Don’t even offer a fact to back up your opinion because you might get tripped up. Smart guy!

        OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | August 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm

        Oh, yeah. W also disbanded the Baathist led army. Guess who they work with, now. Guess why they took over the whole north of Iraq in days while the Shiites just cut and ran and ran and ran. Now blame it all on Obama.

      OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Milhouse. | August 19, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      The court is the ‘Iran United States Claims Tribunal’ in the Hague. Duh! Did you try to research that for your self or did you assume I pulled it out of my arse? None of your talking points sites didn’t mention its relevance? Do you think you can simply read the slop that gets written on partisan sites and learn without work?. Do you want to learn?

      “WHAT COURT?” Duh! There is a court. Now do you think I will just move on to the next 2 paragraphs? 1st admit there is a court. 1st admit you were wrong on that point. If you can’t do it, then FU.

      BTW, I do not ‘admit’ to anything because you are not a prosecutor and I am not a defendant. Meanwhile you have a nasty habit of making absurd statements and moving on when they are debunked. The last one was that modern republicans are a continuation of the anti-lynching republicans. After making that claim, you ignored my response. This time you can’t. The Bank is a FACT.

      Whether the settlement the Obama administration reached was good is debatable I wrote so, myself. But the facts are not. Why don’t you try learning the facts before shooting off about quid pro quo and fooling and ransom and, especially, what is real.

      I would appreciate if no one else responds to this until after Milhouse. Let’s see if Milhouse is capable of being anything besides a parrot.

      OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Milhouse. | August 20, 2016 at 8:05 am

      What is the matter Milhouse? Do you absorb anything that doesn’t come from a right-wing blog or website, listen to anything not from a right-wing radio show or podcast, watch anything not from a right-wing TV show, video or blog? Are you capable of thinking or are you regurgitating? Do you just spout the party line? What is the point of commenting on a right-wing site when all you can do is echo? Are you capable of originality or creativity?

      What do you possibly get out of commenting if you can’t actually think? Is it just a way to rub shoulders with other bots? Come on, explain to me if you actually knew something about this topic other than what you had memorized. If you are an example of the right-wing, it truly explains how a grifter like Trump has come so close to the top office in a country that people around here will be happy to characterize as on a downward spiral because of liberals, POC, LGBTQ, and various other ‘malcontents’.

        I want to correct you on one point. Your understanding is mistaken about it being a determination by a court AND a private settlement. The US convinced Iran to enter a private settlement shortly before the panel of judges (this was arbitration) would have delivered a ruling.

        As for money saved, there’s some talk that this body had never granted a settlement where the award was greater than 10% interest (I presume that’s per annum), which wouldn’t have cracked 2 billion. But, Forbes has an article where an insider thinks it would’ve been 4, and Iran had been asking for 10. Given the lack of love for the US internationally, a precedent-breaking award would not have surprised me at all, but good people can differ. The parties settled; we’ll never know. The panel was, and remains, silent.

          OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to JBourque. | August 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

          You are correct and you reiterate the point that there was an imminent court judgement motivating us.

          I think we agree it was a settlement and not a ransom. I think there may well have been a tangling of various open issues. Iran’s hardliners needed to be placated and our hardliners need to portray anything that Obama does as not just bad, but evil and bungling. The worst. He is tone deaf.

          It is my experience that ideologues of all stripes tend to require simple explanations. For instance, I doubt that many have an understanding of why Iran has animus towards us and might have good reasons not to trust us. Of course, the Middle Eastern countries are quite capable of being hateful without our help.

          I will quibble with 1 point. There is considerable love for the US internationally, but the people who dislike us sometimes have good reason and can be demonstrative.

    @OnlyRightDissentAllowed

    ” From what I understand, the Iranians got money that was theirs as determined by a court and mutual agreement. It was money paid by the Shah for weapons that for obvious reasons were never delivered. ”

    The problem with this is that it ignores the fact that the funds there were earmarked by US courts for payment to those that have suffered from Iranian terrorist attacks, especially families of American victims.

    In essence it was like how German funds and intellectual property were seized by the US government as reparations after war was declared in 1917 and 1941.

    ” The administration withheld the money until the prisoners (hostages – whatever you wish to call them) were released. ”

    The problem is that the money was withheld Long before these particularly prisoners were arrested, over the course off decades by both Republican and Democrat administrations. Because the Iranian dictatorship is a totalitarian regime that disregards even the most basic rules of diplomacy, and it was unworthy of engagement.

    So this reads far less like a temporary withholding of funds as leverage and far more like the Iranian regime using hostage taking- of which it has a Horrifyingly long history- for blackmail to unlock frozen funds. Which also fits in far better with the other sources we have, including those of the hostages and the Iranian dictatorship itself.

    You can’t accuse Michael Totten of being irrational, uneducated about the world or laws, or a die hard Trumpite. He even goes as far as to cut the Obama Administration a great deal of slack (such as assuming that no, they were not lying intentionally by claiming it wasn’t a ransom). But he also is very vehement about what a horrible, awful decision this was.

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/iran-payment-wasn%E2%80%99t-ransom-it-was-ransom

    And this is before I get into less charitable, such as the six part “Obama’s Ransom Payment” series Powerline did.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/?s=ransom&x=0&y=0

    “See, you are smart. You stick to opinion.”

    What part of “they will use it (the funds) to kill people and to harm the USA” or “America is shorted and the other side comes out with a stronger hand” is pure opinion to you?

    Again, we know what the Iranian dictatorship uses its money for. We also know what those funds were legally meant to do before the Hague ever came into the picture.

    You don’t just get to wash those things away as Opinion.

    ” Can’t ever argue or prove an opinion. ”

    False.

    At the very least, you can definitely argue an opinion. After all, if you didn’t think so why did you bother replying?

    And you can certainly prove or disprove the facts and claism that often underlie an opinion. For instance, if someone had the opinion that Hitler was a defensive leader.

    “For instance, it is my opinion, based on facts, that the 2 Bush’s set the whole damn thing in motion.”

    So the two Bushes set the whole damn thing in motion that led Iranian Jihadis to take hostages years before either of them entered the White House?

    Please! Tell me what “facts” you have to provide here!

    …this should be rich….

    “H.W. encouraged the Shiites to rebel against Saddam after Gulf I and then left them high and dry to get slaughtered and gassed. ”

    True, unfortunately. And it is a definite blemish on America’s history and honor. However, the Shiites were already being slaughtered and gassed by Saddam before Gulf I. In fact, it was a secondary theme in the Iran-Iraq War (along with Saddam’s fighting hte Kurds). And in many ways this was just the Shiites taking advantage of the unambiguous, crushing defeat of Saddam’s military to try and reopen the old struggle.

    So, what does this have to do with why Iran took hostages?

    “Then W. invaded the wrong country”

    How is a tyrant, terrorist, and sponsor of Osama Bin Laden (as well as landlord to his lieutenants like Zarqawi, who were based out of Baghdad before 2003) The Wrong Country?

    ” and didn’t even understand what a Shiite was; ”

    Hurrr Hurrrrr… Bush So Stupid LiedPeopulDied.

    I’m sorry, but what? If you think he didn’t understand what they were (even if not on an expert level) you have a lot of explaning to do about why he referred to them (and appealed to them) so often. Heck, half the references to democracy and rule of the people was part of an attempt to encourage Shiite opposition to the predominately Sunni Baathist regime.

    I guess you think he had really smart ghost writers, even for passing remarks?

    “let alone that they didn’t trust us because of his father.”

    Ehh.. partially true. Though suffice it to say, that was probably a lesser reason, compared to the issues they already had with trust before the West did anything with them, Iranian agitation across the border, and the fact that large swaths of their territory became defacto occupied by foreign troops (namely: the Mujahads that made up the “Iraqi” Resistance).

    But what does this have to do with Iranian Shiites?

    “So W. handed Iraq to Iran”

    If you think that, you really haven’t paid attention. Especially given how the IRCG suffered fighting us in the South. Iranian dominance in Beghdad only came after we left.

    ” and then failed to get a ‘Status of Forces’ agreement which forced us to have to leave Iraq. ”

    Your double standards are showing.

    Firstly, Bush was never going to be the only President who had to go along with a SoF agreement, especially since by the time this happened he was a lame duck on his way out. He certainly did a lot to lay the groundwork for it- including a great deal of cooperation and other, lesser agreements to help with advisors and support). However, he did not actually go that far, in large part because-again- he did not want to unduly tie his successor’s hands.

    So on that note, why are you not blaming Obama for his part in failing to do that? Particularly since he did not have the reason Bush had, he walked back several agreements not pertaining to an SoF agremeent, and he did so in spite of the vocal opposition of the Iraqi government, the Kurds, and others?

    And finally, *What Does This Have To Do with Iran Taking Hostages Years Earlier?*

    “The Shiites actually didn’t want us there, anyway.”

    Which is why the Shiite led government went to such trouble asking Obama for an SoF Ag.

    Because Logic.

    “They figured they could screw the Sunnis with the help of their brother Shiites next door. How’d that work out?”

    This is the first time you have actually mentioned Iran in this overly long reasoning.

    You spent all of this time talking about what the Bushes supposedly did wrong in Iraq during the Gulf Wars. However, at no point whatsoever did you explain how this explains why the Iranian regime decided to take hostages, and why it has made a practice of doing so for years before the Bushes, and to governments other than the American one.

    How do you figure that?

    And if you think Iran started doing this because of what the Shiites across the border felt or did, you are Sorely mistaken. As you can see by how easily Iran has sold the Iraqi Shiites and Kurds up a river when it had to make peace with Saddam.

    “But hey, you think the current administration is made up of fools and ‘gave the advantage of image and perception concerning this matter to the Iranians’. ”

    I cannot speak for him, but if he thinks so, that is for some very good reasons.

    Chiefly because it IS made up of fools and Worse, and optics is the least of the unnecessary advantages that they have sacrificed to the Mullahs and other bad actors.. As we have seen from “Reset” to Uranium One to the dismal “Nuclear Deal” that ended up sacrificing crucial things like snap back sanctions and surprise inspections.

    “Don’t forget about the sainted Reagan who traded arms for hostages with Iran and then made a televised speech admitting it. ”

    …you spent the first half of your comment going on and on and on about how the Bushes caused this entire situation. And yet at the end here you are Admitting that the Iranians did in fact take hostages Well before they took office, and forced US Presidents to confront it.

    Does how utterly Self Defeating that analysis is ever cross your mind?

    “But he was no fool.”‘

    In general no.

    “Yep, stick to opinions. Don’t even offer a fact to back up your opinion because you might get tripped up. Smart guy!”

    The problem-Einstein- is that your “facts” wound up shooting themselves to death painfully, ala a circular firing squad. at least it’s essentially impossible to attack an opinion like “I like the taste of apple candy the best.”

    “Oh, yeah. W also disbanded the Baathist led army. ”

    Indeed. And he was RIGHT to do so, because it was institutionally corrupt, totalitarian, and bigoted and you have to destroy those kinds of organizations root and branch in order to try and build anything else. Which is why the IJA and Heer were utterly destroyed after WWII, and the failure to do so with the Reichswehr after WWI led to a mind boggling amount of head aches.

    Which only leaves the question of how it was done, and if it was done in the best way for peace and future prospects. In this case I would have to say no. I do think it went better than most people think, but it was certainly half cocked.

    But that does not change the fact that it was a necessary project.

    “Guess who they work with, now. Guess why they took over the whole north of Iraq in days while the Shiites just cut and ran and ran and ran. ”

    Dude, do you even CHECK MAPS?

    The North of Iraq is basically all Kurds, and the Kurds have stubbornly fought ISIS like few others and prevented them from ever coming Close to taking all of Northern Iraq. As you can see even from a map.

    If you had said “West of Iraq'” that might be at least debatable, but this? This is simple illiteracy.

    I could go on and talk about how there was an entire Decade between the rise of ISIS and the dismantling of the Baathist army, and how most of the Baathist military formations that went Jihadi were destroyed or heavily crippled i things like the Surge, with the surivor basically limping across the Syrian border as AQII. But the inability to read a map is really what clinches it.

    “Now blame it all on Obama.”

    The hypocrisy is galling. You want to blame the rise of ISIS in Iraq to a decision that was made a full decade before, and which generally saw most of the Saddam era military formations that did go radical wiped out.. But you don’t want to address the responsibility of the man under whom the invasion of Iraq by ISIS happened, who had also failed to secure the same SoF agreement you chide Bush over, and who only started interjecting troops back in when Baghdad was faced with imminent collapse?

    How does that biased blame game work?

    And HOW DOES IT EXPLAIN IRAN”S HOSTAGE TAKING?

    ““WHAT COURT?” Duh! There is a court. !”

    Indeed, I am well aware of the Hague arbitration.

    However, that is not The (only) Court. It is A court. And one that came onto this case at a late date, after these funds were already declared forfeit by due process in the American judiciary.

    So why are you ignoring the importance of that?

    ” Did you try to research that for your self or did you assume I pulled it out of my arse? None of your talking points sites didn’t mention its relevance?”

    A valid question, but you MIGHt not want to toot your horn about research when you couldn’t even read a map of ISIS’s high water mar in Iraq right.

    ” Do you think you can simply read the slop that gets written on partisan sites and learn without work?. Do you want to learn? ”

    I could ask the same questions of you.

    “Meanwhile you have a nasty habit of making absurd statements and moving on when they are debunked.” The last one was that modern republicans are a continuation of the anti-lynching republicans. ”

    I do not know the exact comments made, but that is accurate. While Nixon was certainly a douche and it is safe to say that very few politicians today have had to confront lynching as a seirous issue- and we can probably argue that the ones today are cut from a different cloth than the Republicans who did it- the fact is that institutionally the ties are there. The idea that there was this widespread defection of Dixiecrats into the GOP (thus tainting it while purifying the Democrats) is dubious at best. You can trace an uninterrupted lineage for most chapters of the Republican party back to the party of Lincoln, and even in the South the chapters there were typically descended from the Republican re-emergence there during Reconstruction.

    “Whether the settlement the Obama administration reached was good is debatable I wrote so, myself. But the facts are not.”

    People can and do debate facts that are much more settled and less controversial than these, so this is just inaccurate.

    Whether it is WISE or Good for people to debate them (like the aforementioned “Hitler was totalitarian aggressor” thing) is another question. But they can do it.

    ” Why don’t you try learning the facts before shooting off about quid pro quo and fooling and ransom and, especially, what is real.”

    The fact is that at best, the Iranians claim that the money was a ransom for the hostages, fitting the literal definition of Quid Pro Quo. Why are you not addressing that fact?

    “I would appreciate if no one else responds to this until after Milhouse. Let’s see if Milhouse is capable of being anything besides a parrot.”

    With all due respect to this request, I will have to decline. I honestly don’t care about Milhouse; I honestly don’t care about anyone who has commented here. But I do care about history immensely. So hearing someone argue that the admittedly flawed Debaathification in 2004/etc was responsible for the invasion of Iraq by ISIS in 2014 using at best 2% or so personnel from the former is dubious. Claiming that anything the Bushes did in Iraq caused Iran to take hostages is false.

    And claiming that ISIS took over the whole North of Iraq is just plain Stupid.

    “What do you possibly get out of commenting if you can’t actually think? Is it just a way to rub shoulders with other bots? Come on, explain to me if you actually knew something about this topic other than what you had memorized.”

    You probably shouldn’t be blowing your own horn considering you went back to beating the tired old “Bush’s Fault” drum, botched up the map of Iraq, and have quite literally regurgitated White House talking points without factoring in things like there being other courts in play than the Hague.

    “the top office in a country that people around here will be happy to characterize as on a downward spiral because of liberals, POC, LGBTQ, and various other ‘malcontents’.”

    Cute strawman there. Now cut it down or forfeit any expectation of being taken seriously.

    You are correct and you reiterate the point that there was an imminent court judgement motivating us.”

    Which does nothing to account for

    A: what motivated the Iranian arrests/hostage taking.

    and

    B: The previous court judgement.

    “I think we agree it was a settlement and not a ransom.”

    As you yourself said, you have a right to your opinion.

    However, the Iranian rhetoric indicates that they feel – at minimum- very comfortable lying about it in public and takign more hostages in the hope of a repeat.

    ” I think there may well have been a tangling of various open issues.”

    Like the fact that Iran is a totalitarian, hostage taking dictatorship that has been toxic to deal with for decades, and which ignores even the most basic conceits of diplomatic relations?

    Just ask the Germans.

    ” Iran’s hardliners needed to be placated”

    I’m sorry, but you cannot placate totalitarian ideologues with an aggressive, universalist ideology. Certainly not in any way that can be called satisfactory. As Obama is learning all too painfully from how Tehran is not even going along with his face saving narratives.

    Which is why attempts to do so are usually something we call “appeasement.”

    A quick test though: just WHAT in the Bloody World would placate Iran’s “Hardliners”?

    “and our hardliners”

    Oh cute.

    Now you’re regurgitating Ben Rhodes’ talking points, starting with the false equivalence.

    I hate to tell you this, but there is no meaningful comparison between Iran’s Hardliners and those in the West that don’t want to deal with them, including such war hawks as Angela Merkel and Hollande.

    Iran’s hardliners set off human bombs, respond to peaceul protests with gunfire, and have sought to destroy entire ethnic groups.

    People like myself and Sasse object to the idea of giving funds to such people. There is no comparable thing.

    ” need to portray anything that Obama does as not just bad, but evil and bungling. The worst. He is tone deaf.”

    Well, I can’t speak for anybody else but I don’t. Specifically regarding “anything.” I do believe the vast majority of what he does is bad, bungling, evil, and tone deaf to varying degrees. But never let it be said that I will not play Devil’s Advocate for him if I see a point, or even defend him.

    For instance, I still think it was good we helped Gaddafi. I have misgivings on how it was done practically and legally, but I am glad he will not be dying a peaceful death.

    “It is my experience that ideologues of all stripes tend to require simple explanations. ”

    Maybe. Though you might want to trawl around some conspiracy theorists and other things. I can say an awful lot about Gaddafi and his “Little Green Book” but the idea that it is simple or has simple explanations is not one of them.

    “For instance, I doubt that many have an understanding of why Iran has animus towards us and might have good reasons not to trust us.”

    Trodding out the Ajax story is what most people do, and it is balderdash. Chiefly because if you have an actual understanding of Iranian histoory or the factions involved, you would know that the ideological lineages of the current “Islamic Republic” sided WITH the West on it, against Mossadegh, the liberals, and the Communists.

    Surprise, it turns out that Iranians are not a hive mind.

    And yes, there are many even deeper rooted issues between Iran and the West that go back a ways (particularly with the British; WWI, WWII; etc.. and if we wnet all the way back Greece and Rome). But those in and of themselves do not translate into the immediate animus we saw around the 1970’s and after. Especially since the West actually rode a fair bit of good will after applying enough pressure to get the Soviets out of Northern Iran and their support of the victorious Shah in the constitutional crisis with Mossadegh.

    ” Of course, the Middle Eastern countries are quite capable of being hateful without our help.”

    Indeed.

    “I will quibble with 1 point. There is considerable love for the US internationally, but the people who dislike us sometimes have good reason and can be demonstrative.”

    Agreed.

    However, the Islamic Republic of Iran hardly qualifies as such a case.As Totten spelled out.

      OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Turtler. | August 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      @Turtler You seem to think that history started with the Islamic Revolution. Why? Nothing before that is relevant. You don’t think there are people in Iran who think we are the terrorists? Unthinkable? Do our drone strikes kill innocents?

      You also think that after we agree to set up an International Tribunal, we are not bound by the results – even if we reach a settlement in the shadows of a court decision. It happens all the time here. Plea deals in criminal cases. Settlements in civil cases. The agreements are binding. End of story.

      I think you also missed the part where we released a number of Iranians and their agents who were convicted of money laundering and other financial crimes related to the embargo. I am sure you think their convictions were just; as the Iranians would claim that those they were holding were criminals or traitors. As an example of why the Iranians might be suspicious (unrelated to this case), someone killed those Iranian nuclear scientists. Someone inserted the Stuxnet virus. Maybe the Iranians didn’t see the people they were holding as ‘hostages’. Maybe political enemies of the Obama Administration want to characterize them in that way.

      The whole thing is ugly; as it usually is when dealing with sovereign nations. If you think you can make political hay out of it, I can’t stop you or Sen. Ben Sasse. I think that sending 400 Billion in cash and not announcing it in big type with a complete photo-op and a full explanation was stupid. Would it have mattered to the right – No. Was it worse than bad politics? I don’t think so.

      I also think the Iran Nuclear Treaty was a good thing – not be it will permanently stop them, but because is bought time. Nothing can stop them if they want to. N. Korea has much less in resources and they did it.

        @onlyRightDissentAllowed

        ” You seem to think that history started with the Islamic Revolution. ”

        There is no honest way to conclude that from my comment.

        I mentioned Ajax- which happened nearly two decades before the Islamic Revolution, let alone the coup Khomenei used to overthrow the secular revolutionaries and establish his tyranny- as a major point in my post. I also mentioned the Iran Crisis (which happened in 1946), Iran’s previous baggage with the British in the early 20th and mid/late 19th century, and even the wars between the Persian dynasties and the powers of Greece and Rome in antiquity.

        So it “seeming” like that to you indicates Nothing beyond the fact that you did not read my comment before shooting yourself in the foot like that. So why the heck are you commenting on something or lecturing other people on research if you can’t even research what is right in front of your face accurately?

        Yes, I know it can be hard and long to accurately cite another person’s post, particularly if it is long. But that is why I organize my posts with quotes, to help me.

        “You don’t think there are people in Iran who think we are the terrorists? Unthinkable?”

        I absolutely know there are people in Iran who think we are the terrorists and I know it is not unthinkable. After all, I do keep an eye on thigns like the regime’s mouthpieces.

        But I don’t take them seriously for the same reason I don’t consider Neo-Nazis claiming Hitler was attacked or parades of Saddam apologists to be valid. Reality is not decided by screaming loudly that somethign really happened, and one person saying the truth is more factually correct than a billion people saying something false (as we see with blood libels).

        Totalitarian regimes routinely construct mythologies of superiority, victimization, conspiracy, and typically massive heaping amounts of lies. But I am not about to accept them when one of the benefits of being a free is the ability to reject them.

        ” Do our drone strikes kill innocents?”

        Yes they do.

        However:

        A: This is not a grievance (let alone a justified one) that Iran has, and the effect that it has on Iranian opinion is near nonexistent because of a very basic reason. Iran has never been the subject of an intense drone strike campaign. This is an issue in the Sunni world, especially Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq (which is mixed because it is majority Shiite but a melting pop), but almost never pops up as a serious complaint from the Mullahs.

        B: One might as well complain about the bombing raids of Nazi Germany killing civilians. It does not mean that they are designed to undermine and destroy a totalitarian dictatorship that wages war on so much of the world.

        In fact, the complaint would be More valid towards WWII since bombing of civilian areas was so prominent and far less precise than Drone Strikes. While the victims of Quds Force car bombs and things like Hezbollah’s rockets could only BEG for Iran’s attacks to have a fraction of the precision drones have, or for the Mullahs to give a fraction of the damn we do about unnecessary damage.

        “You also think that after we agree to set up an International Tribunal, we are not bound by the results – even if we reach a settlement in the shadows of a court decision.”

        The short answer is Yes.

        I do not have any great hatred of international law, the Hague, the UN, or other bodies of international organization or law. This is more than many on here can say for good reasons, but I generally want cooperation with international organizations and think that we should follow them as much as is possible. (Which is why I think it was a mistake to ever let this case get into the Hague in the first place).

        HOWEVER.

        The American government- including the DoS, DoJ, and executive branch- is first and foremost responsible to the American people, whether in the form of other branches of government (like the judiciary) or the common citizen. I also note that international law as we recognize it existed for much less time than the US and the Constitution has, and so it should factor in.

        So I do believe that the US government not only has the discretion and ability to ignore rulings from the Hague when they are relevant to essential American interests or the wellbeing of its’ people, I believe that sometimes it is duty bound to do so.

        The precedent is already there. After all, when the largest Soviet base in the Western Hemisphere won a court case against us, the US declined to honor it and continued to support efforts to lance the Sandinista nightmare from Nicaragua and existence.

        Since you mentioned Reagan and the precedent he set for paying ransom, why did you not mention that?

        “It happens all the time here. Plea deals in criminal cases. Settlements in civil cases. The agreements are binding. End of story.”

        I know it happens all the time here well enough to see plenty of flaws with this analogy.

        First and foremost: there are mechanisms to prevent misbehavior in those things. If a criminal violates their plea deal, they get the book thrown at them. If someone settles in a civil case and refuses to follow through the victimized party can go after them with the full might of the law. If a Prosecutor tries to strongarm people into a plea deal they can get Nifong’d.

        Whatever mechanisms there are to deter Iranian misbehavior are nowhere Near credible enough to compare to those.

        Secondly: The concept of plea deals and settlements are that the party paying it did something wrong. Which I flatly reject in this case. Iran has been a totalitarian, hostage taking, terrorist state that has shredded the bare minimum of diplomatic etiquette. The funds in question were seized as a result of those crimes. So the Iranian regime’s claim to those funds should be treated with the same disregard that would happen if IG Farben’s successors tried to sue for damages caused by WWII.

        Thirdly and perhaps most importantly: there’s the fact that it is not an End of Story. There is no doubt what Iran is except in the minds of the most deluded or inattentive. It is a terrorist state and a blackmailer. It has an established pattern of murder, hostage taking, blackmail, and theft, as the Germans know. It continue to fund terrorism, kidnap hostages, and blackmail for funds for the foreseeable future.

        Meaning this settlement is premature at best for the reasons Michael Totten mentioned.

        There is no good reason to treat a final settlement as binding when the other side will not.

        “I think you also missed the part-”

        You think wrong.

        I have read the article on this website detailing who they were and what they were convicted of, as well as the passages on the Powerline articles detailing the part of the negotiations about the Iranian prisoners. And in fact I have links to both on a blog post draft of mine.

        So I am aware of why they exist. That just merely raises the question of why we felt it necessary to use both the money and these prisoners as “leverage” for a single deal.

        If nothing else it indicates somebody didn’t play proper hardball.

        “. I am sure you think their convictions were just; ”

        I am inclined to believe their convictions were just unless I see evidence to the contrary, because the US legal system is fairly honest and protects the defendant by making prosecution (supposedly) prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is also fairly good at doing so.

        Does this mean I believe it is impossible that there was a miscarriage of justice and that none of them could be innocent? Of course not.

        But the US has higher standards of justice than the whims of the Ayatollah. Which is exactly what constitutes it in Iran today.

        “as the Iranians would claim that those they were holding were criminals or traitors.”

        This sentence neatly summarizes your moral deficit AND your ignorance.

        Let me pick apart all the stupid, wrong things in it…..

        Firstly: traitors are those who betray their country (or more rarely organization). All of the four hostages that the Iranians released were American citizens. Meaning that If the regime was STUPID enough to have claimed they were traitors they would be easily proven as DAMNABLE LIARS who were peddling bogus charges.

        And your attempt to use it as an apologia for them just underlines how legally illiterate you really are.

        Next point:

        You are falsely trying to draw an equivalence between American claims that the people they held were guilty and Iran’s claims. But they are not alike, and they were reached by very different ways. Because the US does not make a habit to grab people of the wrong nationality or ethnicity in its’ territory for the sole reason of using them as bargaining chips for a prisoner exchange, and it also has a fairly honest legal system.

        Iran is a dictatorship with a thoroughly cowed legal system, and one that- along with the USSR, the PRC, the DPRK, and Turkmenistan- uses the taking of prisoners on trumped up charges as a part of its’ diplomatic strategies.

        Which means that any claims made about Iranian regime accusations about foreigners should be disbelieved- or at least treated with the utmost skepticism- unless there is reason to believe otherwise. Much like charges against defendants should be in the US.

        It also has a laughably disreputable legal system. The first great show trial was over the Cinema Rex fire, where they accepted the confession of Monir Taheri that he did it on behalf of the revolution against the Shah. Then they accused him of being a Monarchist that did it on behalf of the Shah and executed him.

        How many problems do you see with that?

        And finally, there’s the fact that the Iranians do not all claim they were criminals, let alone traitors. As even a casual check on a lot of exile and in country dissident sources would show. In fact, it is evident that far more Iranians are skeptical of their own government’s just sentencing than there are Americans.

        And for good reason.

        ” As an example of why the Iranians might be suspicious-”

        Oh, I am well aware of many reasons the Iranian theocrats might be suspicious of foreigners, both justifiably and unjustifiably. The reasons you mentioned are but the tip of the iceberg. I am not even going to say that they were wrong on all (or even any) of their accusations.

        But they don’t change the essentials. It doesn’t matter whether these people were innocent Americans who were imprisoned in a sham of justice, or super spy CIA types imprisoned in a sham of justice. The act remains that the Iranian legal system is a sham and that renders these detainments unjust. Fruit from the poisoned tree and all that.

        ” Maybe the Iranians didn’t see the people they were holding as ‘hostages’.”

        Firstly, that’s provably false given the use of the word for hostages by both pro and anti regime sources.

        And secondly, it wouldn’t even matter. What they “see” the people they were holding as does not matter a whit to what they actually are, or the flaws in how they were imprisoned.

        “Maybe political enemies of the Obama Administration want to characterize them in that way.”

        (So I guess we’re going to ignore the fact that the Iranian regime’s mouthpieces also characterize them as that?)

        And maybe the political allies of the Obama administration want to characterize them as not that- in contradiction of the vast majority of sources from Tehran to the prisoners themselves- in order to benefit.

        Spin is spin. Every faction does it across the political spectrum and the globe.

        Maybe you should focus more on your vaunted Facts to investigate what is true and less on making vague insinuations with no direct bearing on whether the claim is true or not?

        “The whole thing is ugly; as it usually is when dealing with sovereign nations.”

        …. seriously?

        Do you even realize how that is not only false, but utterly Stupid Sounding?

        “” I say, did you hear of the ghastly news between Luxembourg and Belgium? How cruel!””

        “That I did! But it’s nothing compared to the bloodshed that’s happening between Australia and New Zealand! How can humanity ever do this?””

        No.

        Things are not usually ugly between sovereign states, or because of them. Even when the world was much more savage and warlike.

        This case is ugly because Iran is governed by a totalitarian dictatorship that kills and breaks the law with impunity,

        Not because democracies like the US, UK, France, etc. do not have skeletons in the closet or do not have ugly things happen between them. They do. But they don’t actively spread that ugliness in the same league as totalitarians do.

        But don’t believe me.

        Take a gander at these.

        https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE6.HTM

        https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/MIRACLE.HTM

        “If you think you can make political hay out of it, I can’t stop you or Sen. Ben Sasse.”

        indeed, like I can’t stop you from fugging up the geography of Iraq or misusing the definition of “traitors.” I can merely call you out and debate.

        Because unlike the “Islamic Republic” of Iran, we talk on a free forum in a free country.

        “Would it have mattered to the right – No.”

        You mean like years of Obama’s presidency didn’t matter to you when you blamed Bush above all others for not completing a SoF agreement in his term or or the ISIS invasion o Iraq that happened under his watch?

        ” Was it worse than bad politics? I don’t think so.”

        You are welcome to believe that. But the Iranian regime seems to disagree.

        “I also think the Iran Nuclear Treaty was a good thing – not be it will permanently stop them, but because is bought time.”

        Ok, fair enough. But how does lessening the already weak sanctions and freeing up all this money buy time?

        ” Nothing can stop them if they want to.”

        Now this is just an abdication of common sense.

        I hate to tell you this, but PLENTY of things can stop them even if they wanted to get the bomb. Starting with the most extreme and hyperbolic of an invasion and defeat.

        All we have to look at is the dismal record of Saddam Hussein, where a mixture of Israeli and coalition pressure turned his nuclear program into a stillborn, inert mess that never produced a single bomb.

        The truth is that we can stop them. Even if you’re not willing to consider what it would take to do so, that does not mean it cannot be done. You can start with the most hyperbolic of the world being destroyed by a Quasar, down to Iran being nuked clean of life before it breaks out, down to an invasion that topples the regime. And work from there.

        Merely throwing up your hands and saying something that inane is a failure of imagination.

        ” N. Korea has much less in resources and they did it.”

        North Korea is and was an uneasy joint satrapy o the Kremlin and the PRC, who have far more resources than Iran does and who helped the DPRK achieve breakout.

        And I don’t think North Korea would have been able to do it successfully if UN troops had taken and held it in 1951, to cite just one thing.

        And now to briefly address some of the many questions I raised you didn’t address:

        1. How do you figure the Bushes set “The whole damn thing in motion” with Iran by their actions in Iraq, happening years AFTER the Iranian regime started what it did?

        2. Can you even read a Map of ISIS’s maximum extent in Iraq? Or of Iraq period?

        3. On what grounds do you claim that the Republicans of today are not a continuation of the anti-lynching ones?

        4. Why do you blame the surge of ISIS on what Bush did and didn’t do up to a decade before ISIS but give none to Obama for his actions up to the year it happened?

        5. How do you explain your claim that “W invaded the wrong country”?

        And i could go on but I’ll stop it there.

      Turtler in reply to Turtler. | August 29, 2016 at 10:28 am

      “For instance, I still think it was good we helped Gaddafi. I have misgivings on how it was done practically and legally, but I am glad he will not be dying a peaceful death.”

      we helped KILL Gaddafi.

      Derp Derp Derp on me.

OnlyRightDissentAllowed | August 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm

@Turtler

You did mention all those other historical moments, but then your arguments concentrated on the Iranian Republic. I was curious if there was some kind of political terror scale. It turns out there is and the US State Department uses it. It only goes back to the last years of the Shah. He rated 3-4 where 5 is worst. The last couple of years of the Iranian regime were rate 3-4 by US. There is also ratings by Amnesty International and Human Right Watch. In the last year, both rated Iran:3 USA 2. Bush Admin also rate Iran 3-4.

http://www.politicalterrorscale.org

“why the heck are you commenting on something or lecturing other people on research” We are not writing legal briefs. There is already plenty on the web. I see no need in regurgitating it.

I have researched it and even observed it from the periphery. I graduated with a Comp Sci Degree in the latter part of the Shah’s regime. I was young and adventurous. I was a TA for a Professor. He could have gotten me a job in Iran for the asking. I was excited at the idea of working in an ‘exotic’ part of the world. But then the anti-Shah demonstrations started in NYC. I was struck by the fact that demonstrators felt they had to wear masks because of the SAVAK. After checking it out, I felt the masks were not theater – the risks were real. I decided not to work in Iran.

The money was earmarked for weapons that we had no qualms in selling to a totalitarian who was friendly to us. This wasn’t about morality or not selling to totalitarian regimes. We just didn’t like them. So we froze the money.

I assume you are aware that the EDS employees were arrested by the Shah’s regime on bribery charges. Perot won $20 Mil in a US court, but the claim was never really adjudicated in a neutral environment. Many of the claims are equally suspect.

“This is not a grievance (let alone a justified one) that Iran has” You get to determine that? Ever heard the expression “the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Besides, should the Pope be offended if a protestant is killed? By your argument the pope shouldn’t care.

We are allies of Saudi Arabia – the arch enemy of Iran and the Shiites. The Saudis are killing Shiites with cluster bombs and other anti-personnel weapons. Is that justification enough for Iran’s enmity?

“US government not only has the discretion and ability to ignore rulings from The Hague when they are relevant to essential American interests”. The Tribunal was formed during the Reagan Administration. You are entitled to think we should have spurned it. The Obama administration didn’t agree with you. They announced the settlement. If you want to call it ransom, go ahead. Just be aware that others think it was a settlement and that the Obama administration held it back until the Americans were freed. That seems to me more like a tactical move.

Your argument seems to be that you don’t think we shouldn’t have settled, therefore the payment must have been for something else – like RANSOM.

“Since you mentioned Reagan and the precedent he set for paying ransom, why did you not mention that?” I honestly didn’t know that or forgot it. Besides Reagan established the Tribunal in question. Do you think he established it in bad faith?

The Iranians we released were convicted of financial crimes related to trying to subvert the embargo. I can understand that the Iranians might consider them political prisoners; even if you don’t.

I may get back to this, but it isn’t going to change anything. I have paying work to do. I think you have a valid point of view. You seem to think I am ignorant or stupid. I would hope that you wouldn’t continue down the path of assuming that those who disagree can’t be smart and informed. I just see things as nuanced. No, I don’t want to move to Iran or live in any theocracy. You are aware that this is just a skirmish and that some of the people on your side want Jesus or white men to rule over the US.

I could have continued down each of your points. But it is endless. Both sides will keep rolling out truths, half-truths and lies. This has been debunked in what you would refer to as the ‘MSM’. I commented on this, because the original article was nowhere near as good as you are. The original piece and most of the talking points are highly partisan.

Sorry, it simply doesn’t look like a duck or quack like a duck to anyone who doesn’t hate Obama. Obama does seem tone deaf sometimes. But W Bush once referred to the war in Iraq as a Crusade – Oops!

    “You did mention all those other historical moments,”

    So you admit you noticed that.

    Which means you knew it would be dishonest and ineffective to claim that my arguments were like history started with the Iranian Revolution, since mention of historical moments before that point show it.

    Then why did you decide to make such an inaccurate, ignorant claim in the first place?

    ” but then your arguments concentrated on the Iranian Republic. ”

    No duh.

    There are some very specific reasons for that. Mostly because it is the most relevant subject to this debate.

    The theocratic regime we are talking about was ormed when Khomenei took power in a coup during the tail end of the Revolution and has been in power since. It effectively created a new government and led to a dramatic shift in Iranian politics domestically and internationally. That shifted status has more or less persisted to this day.

    So I focus on it for the same reason that it is more important to focus on the policies of Benito Mussolini rather than those of Cavour when discussing WWII.

    Not because the past is not important- it is-, because the new order does not have similar real estate to the old one- it does-, or even because some of the interests are the same- and Iran’s interest in naval hegemony over the Persian gulf is very, very, Very old- but because the gap is significant enough to warrant focus and separate attention.

    This should not be surprising or controversial. A new regime predicated on a massive break with the old is not the same as what came before.

    “I was curious if there was some kind of political terror scale. It turns out there is and the US State Department uses it.”

    Indeed, there are a couple different ones like it out there. Freedom House and Amnesty International also have one.

    “It only goes back to the last years of the Shah. He rated 3-4 where 5 is worst.”

    Which is not surprising, the Shah was not a good person.

    “The last couple of years of the Iranian regime were rate 3-4 by US.”

    The difference is twofold. Firstly, that during the last, worst years of the Shah the scores for years with a clear, single figure are split between 3 and 4. In contrast, the theocracy is split mostly between 4’s and *5’s* and has been for most of its’ existence.

    It is only after a quarter century in power that we truly see a return to the “placidity” of the Shah’s last, revolutionary years.

    And that’s if we believe the figures. Which I frankly doubt, bringing me to the second point.

    If anything it notably seems to underscore the nature of the regime. Considering it shows a more or less straight, continuous “4” score from about 2007 to 2011. In reality we now that the electoral fraud Ahmadinejad committed and the rise of the Green movement in 2009 led to a significant intensification of repression on the public, the massacre of protestors on the streets, and mass arrests.

    Perhaps that is covered by the “4” rating; I could believe it. But the question then is why the unusually straight scores for both before and after this crackdown.

    And finally, there’s the fact that this seems to cover domestic violence and repression alone. Which is particularly unfortunate when discussing this.

    In spite of the deeply vile nature of regimes like those tyrannizing Equatorial Guinea and Turkmenistan, they are not likely to launch aggression or terrorist attacks abroad. Iran is. We know because it has admitted to doing so.

    So while Equatorial Guinea is not nearly as pressing a threat to American interests or lives in the same way that SAVAK was not. But the theocracy in Tehran is and has remained so for decades. And at least as pressingly, the Iranian autocracy was also not as much of a threat to the norms of the road.

    It rarely attempted to take diplomatic hostages (one of the last attempts to do so was during the chaos of WWI, probably on German prodding) or to support car bombers like Hezbollah. Who in addition to killing and oppressing yet more people shred international law wantonly and threaten to spark more war.

    And that different requires addressing in a way these figures alone do not.

    “I have researched it and even observed it from the periphery.”

    As have I. Though as the latter parts of it indicate I have not come nearly as close to observing the country itself as you.

    Considering the rampant risks of hostage taking I am not surprised.

    ” I graduated with a Comp Sci Degree in the latter part of the Shah’s regime. I was young and adventurous. I was a TA for a Professor. He could have gotten me a job in Iran for the asking. I was excited at the idea of working in an ‘exotic’ part of the world. But then the anti-Shah demonstrations started in NYC. I was struck by the fact that demonstrators felt they had to wear masks because of the SAVAK. After checking it out, I felt the masks were not theater – the risks were real. I decided not to work in Iran.”

    In that case I am not sure whether to envy or sympathize for you. But indeed, the risks were real. It is why I have scant good to say about the Shah’s autocracy.

    Because there is very little good to say, and while “he didn’t imprison, torture, or murder as many people” and “he didn’t fund global terrorist organizations” are *sincere* bits of praise, they are damning all the same.

    “The money was earmarked for weapons that we had no qualms in selling to a totalitarian who was friendly to us. ”

    Firstly, I am a bit skeptical about labeling him a was a totalitarian, rather than an authoritarian. Not because I think the labels somehow make the atrocities better, they don’t.

    He certainly ruled with an iron fist and crushed the rights of Iranians, but he ruled by dint of Iran’s traditional autocratic monarchy and he had to co-exist with Parliament (even if a previously subservient one).

    this I do believe makes him more comparable to the likes of Hirohito or the Thai Monarchy than to Khomenei, Hitler, Lenin , or others who sought the total submergence (hence total-itarian) of society into the state. Though given the wide ranging oppression of the regime

    But what else you’re missing is simple. Name me one country the last Shah invaded, or planned to invade. Name me one foreign terrorist organization he was the sponsor of.

    And I can name you several his eventual “successors” did.

    The matter was not merely about how bloody minded or oppressive the government is, it’s also how much of that bloody mindedness it exported.

    “This wasn’t about morality or not selling to totalitarian regimes. We just didn’t like them. So we froze the money.

    The problem with this judgement is twofold. I already mentioned the narrow caveat I had about the label totalitarian, so I’ll drop it.

    But you assert “we just didn’t like them.” Well then, why was that?

    It certainly wasn’t because we viewed Khomenei hostilely from the start. Jimmy Carter expended a lot of effort trying to create a compromise between the Shah and his enemies, both seculars and Khomeneists.

    http://nypost.com/2016/06/04/how-ayatollah-khomeini-suckered-jimmy-carter/

    So then when did we come to not like them?

    Fairly simple. After coming back to Iran, turning aside claims he had made earlier about not seeking power, and overthrowing what was left of the government in February 1979 Khomenei’s government did something that the Shah’s had rarely done in its’ hundreds of years.

    It helped orchestrate the storming of a peaceful diplomatic embassy and the kidnapping of US citizens. All while ginning up foreign support for actions (including attacks) on the US).

    This has been clearly established perfidy since at least the time of Genghis Khan. And it is why the US chose to freeze those assets. Because the new Iranian government had broken the rules of the diplomatic road in a way that constituted an act of war, to say nothing of being noticeably worse than the previous ones.

    “I assume you are aware that the EDS employees were arrested by the Shah’s regime on bribery charges. Perot won $20 Mil in a US court, but the claim was never really adjudicated in a neutral environment. Many of the claims are equally suspect.”

    I have heard, and I am not surprised. I do not know enough about the finer details of the case- and at the rate things are progressing I am not sure anyone alive will be able to- and I certainly do not put great stock in the honesty or fairness of the Shah’s government.

    But there’s an important difference here, and that shows even if we do assume this was a bogus charge by the Shah. it’s that the later Iranian dynasties did not make a habit of taking diplomatic hostages and holding them indefinitely, much less turning their captivity into propaganda circuses. IIRC, the last time was during WWI when the Iranian army tried to bumrush the British mission at Bakshir over half a century before.

    The Iranians involved did not run its’ legal interactions under the basis of Sharia law (though considering the demand of 1.3 billion dollars in interest that is forbidden under Sharia we could beg about that), and it did not indict foreigners under the basis of it. So if there was undue corruption and unjust imprisonment of foreign personnel going on it had to be disguised within normal civil law and stand at least some international scrutiny.

    This is in marked contrast to the policy of the theocracy, which can and does seize prisoners under the flimsiest of pretexts and in contravention of whatever laws or customs are in play. We see a good idea of this with the IRGC’s naval assets and the capture of the American sailors, which would not have been justified under nautical law even if literally everything Tehran alleged was true. http://www.steynonline.com/7420/the-humiliation

    And that is why hostage taking by Tehran is a problem now in a way it wasn’t in-say- 1970. While both the Shah and the Ayatollah may be tyrannical bastages, they are in very different ways. And one way is particularly harmful to those that have to deal with it from the outside.

    “We are allies of Saudi Arabia”

    Indeed we are, and I have very little good to say about the Saud. If anything I do believe that it is an alliance that has long ago exhausted whatever use it had.

    But again, I will not deny that the US walks hand in glove with terrible people and terrible regimes, and sometimes there are even situations urgent enough to justify it. I don’t think the Saud qualify, but I can understand the arguments for why some people think they do.

    It’s also worth noting that the US generally discourages travel to Saudi Arabia outside of business (under the logic that the Saud are a premedieval nightmare and if you are caught breaking what passes for their laws on their soil you know what is coming to you), and that the Saudis do not have a habit of kidnapping embassy personnel, among others. And in fact they were at least somewhat genuinely shocked when the Iranians launched a recent attack on their embassy.

    Which indicates that the Iranian theocracy is a common threat to both of us, and in some ways will go even further than the Saud and their Wahhabi frenemies.

    “The Saudis are killing Shiites with cluster bombs and other anti-personnel weapons. ”

    Doesn’t narrow it down enough. Because believe it or not, it can be legitimate enough to kill people with cluster bombs and anti-personnel weapons (after all, that is what they are for). Especially if they are attacking you.

    The Saud certainly have a gobsmacking amount of innocent blood on their hands, have fueled strife in the Middle East for years, and have played a role in first the devastation of the Shiite populations on the Southern coast of the Persian Gulf and then their repression. And these are all crimes worthy of note. But without context it’s hard to say.

    And I will note that generally the Saud have shied away from massive genocide of the few Shiiites in their territory lately in favor of repression and “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” Executing predominant Shiites in order to break their domestic strength and keep them terrorized.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-executes-dozens-for-terrorism-1451726342

    This is heinous and tyrannical enough, but it isn’t the full on war you describe, which they generally prefer carrying out in proxy conflicts like Syria and Bahrain.

    “Is that justification enough for Iran’s enmity?”

    In short, I would say “yes.” However, that’s only one side of the story, and a very late case.

    The problem with this is twofold. One being that it is one sided, and only looks at one side of a very long, bloody, and evil feud between two despotic, bigoted nightmares. Where both have committed and financed many acts of terrorist and slaughter against each other.

    For instance, the Iranian attack on the Saudi embassy that came after it, and the harassment Iranian ships have made of Gulf state shipping in the eighties with rather brutal results.

    So asking if this is enough to justify Iranian emnity is looking backward; atrocities like this came about because of the deep seated enmity that already existed between the two tyrannies. I cannot grudge the enmity felt by the civilians in either realm towards the regime of the other (whether it’s the Saud that helped finance Saddam’s missiles or the descendants of the South Gulf Shiites that had to flee North because of genocide at the hands of the Wahhabis), but I certainly can distrust when either regime’s using it to justify the latest atrocities.

    And secondly: there is nothing the Saud have done to Shiites or Iran that was more heinous than the full bore genocide launched by them and their allies the Wahhabist Ikhwan between roughly Kuwait and the (British imposed) Trucial states/future UAE. It lasted for much of the early 1800’s and was a major reason that drove the Qajars to suspend their rivalry with the British at sea and the Porte on land until the Saud were defeated. It is why the Shiite population in the “Eastern Province” is smaller in 2016 than it was in 1716.

    But you don’t hear a lot of people bringing that up outside of the domestic Shiites. Wonder why?

    To put it lightly, Iran and the Saud may view themselves as defenders of the one truth faith but the wellbeing of any given member of the faith has never been high on their list of concerns. It is also why the Iranian theocracy does not tend to try and take Saudi diplomatic hostages all that often.

    The Saud did not survive the collapse of two of their empires and centuries of civil war by being soft hearted.

    “Your argument seems to be that you don’t think we shouldn’t have settled, therefore the payment must have been for something else – like RANSOM.”

    And no, that is not in fact my argument. Or at least not all of my argument.

    The argument is that the United States- and most countries in the world- do not make a habit of paying reparations to terrorist states that are intractably hostile to them. Which is exactly what the Iranian theocracy is, regardless of how oppressive it was vis a vis the Shah or how bad the Shah is.

    There is a good reason for that. Because one things hostile regimes do is harm Americans and American interests, and so it is a safe bet that at least part of the resources we have given the theocracy will be used for that, in addition to those that (like those being given to the Shah) would be used against their own people).

    And on top of this, the theocracy is a threat to international peace and law in a way that Mohammed Reza’s government was not. So it isn’t just American interests and lives at stake, but many others.

    Secondly, my point is that it is only worth coming to a negotiated legal settlement with a party if you can count on them following or being held to the law. This is why you don’t make deals with the North Korean government or Pirate Bay. And the thing is that the Iranian regime has showed its’ Open disdain for legal means in foreign relations when it doesn’t favor them.

    This is why the Germans and Argentines still have decades long outstanding warrants for Iranian figures that have never been honored. Imagining that suddenly this will turn what is quite literally a criminal regime in every sense of the word into a trustworthy partner will not make it so.

    Thirdly, the vast majority of the sources Outside the White House- including both the hostages and the Iranian regime itself- have called this payment a Ransom or equivalent forms, like tribute.

    And Fourthly and perhaps most damningly, the description of the payment and the method of delivery *fits the common legal definition of a ransom.*

    http://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/ransom.html

    http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/R/Ransom.aspx

    And yes, there are others.

    By using the money as “leverage” or whatever you choose to call it for the release of the hostages, that translates it into consideration.

    And by giving the consideration at the time of the release, it is an act of ransom.

    Neither you nor the usual apologists for this deal have addressed this honestly, let alone pointed to a legal definition in which this is not true.

    Well, it’s high time to try. Because I am not going to passively let myself or my arguments be strawmanned, let alone by someone whose legal ignorance is so deep they screwed up the definition of “treason.”

    “The Iranians we released were convicted of financial crimes related to trying to subvert the embargo. ”

    Only true in part. Legal Insurrection did a fairly thorough summary of these crimes and the people who were responsible.

    https://legalinsurrection.com/2016/01/heres-who-iran-is-getting-back-in-prisoner-swap/

    And while all of them did break the embargo, calling them “financial crimes’ diminishes the actual nature of them. People like Golestaneh, Gahreman, and the Faratel Three was not because of something like lost exports, but because it involved giving away militarily sensitive data and material to a terror state.

    Which is far more serious than an economic crime alone. It is espionage for a reason. Which is what transferring strategically sensitive data and materials to an embargoed power usually is, rather than just moving money or common goods.

    “I can understand that the Iranians might consider them political prisoners; even if you don’t.”

    If you can “understand” tbat, you neither understand the Iranian people or the laws under which they were convicted.

    Spies- even those captured legitimately in the performance of their duty- are not political prisoners. This is the reason why Gary Powers was not one, even though he was hauled around for political theater like people who we know were falsely accused of spying.

    This is so basic I should not have to cover it. But apparently I have to.

    I have a fairly broad level of tolerance and I would like to think I am willing to help educate people. But at some point there comes a time when I cannot tell you every bit of legal terminology.

    “I may get back to this, but it isn’t going to change anything. I have paying work to do. ”

    Fair enough, real life comes first.

    “I think you have a valid point of view.”

    I can only wish I could say the same. And I do think some parts of your opinion are valid.

    However, that does not make everything else valid. It does not make the opinion that my previous post thought history began with the revolution a valid point of view. It does not make the opinion that the Iranians could legitimately view American citizens as guilty of treason to Iran a valid point of view. And I do not think defining terms like “political prisoner” or “economic crimes” other than what they mean to be a valid opinion.

    I am no bubble headed moppet who thinks Khomenei and his heirs were the only thing wrong in Iranian history and I am not ignorant enough to think we don’t need a settling of accounts with Iran after all these years. But I also don’t think the Iranian theocracy should be viewed as equivalent to the Shah’s government, for the simple fact that they’re not.

    “You seem to think I am ignorant or stupid.”

    With all due respect, that is because on several things you are indeed ignorant.

    Someone who displays ignorance of what terms like “ransom” are legally defined as is…ignorant.

    This doesn’t have to be a fatal flaw or a permanent disability. Everybody is ignorant of something (and indeed my legal knowledge is not very refined, god help me if you asked me to do rocket science or the like).

    But something based on a falsehood is not as valid an opinion or viewpoint as something that is based on an accurate fact. A person who won damages in a lawsuit can kidnap the child of the won they won against, promise to release them after the damages are paid, and claim that it isn’t a ransom.

    It doesn’t make it so, or just as worthy of consideration as anything else.

    But it does mean that one has to admit one didn’t know something before learning it.

    “I would hope that you wouldn’t continue down the path of assuming that those who disagree can’t be smart and informed.”

    I am not on it, at least not to that degree.

    Again, I cited Michael Totten- who I do disagree with on this issue (particularly regarding the sincerity of the White House on it). And I admit that he knows far more of the region than I ever have.

    As you might know if you read my post.

    “I just see things as nuanced.”

    That is one of the key problems. Nuance is not truth in and of itselfm, and it’s why the Golden Means Fallacy has been recognized. And indeed, that is one reason why I do think one of the harder lessons to grapple with is not just recognizing when the truth is naunced, but when it is simple.

    For instance, it is very true that the “Second Polish Republic” was a racially based military dictatorship that discriminated against Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and others.

    That does not change the simple truth that it was invaded without provocation by the Nazi Reich (plus Tiso) and the Soviet Union.

    We could discuss the justified complaints people had about the dictatorship in Warsaw, the lies it peddled, the repression it conducted, the racism present in its’ upper echelons, and what complaints Hitler made that were in fact truthful. And indeed we should.

    But that will not change the fact that it did not “deserve” to be invaded on false grounds, let alone everything that happened to it after the conquest.

    Sometimes the really hard thing is knowing when things are more complicated than they seem or that many people admit. Like that not every Leftist is a Marxist who wants to institute a totalitarian dictatorship (as I learned firsthand in California), that not every Muslim is a Theocrat (as Mr. P was living proof for me), or that every German was a Nazi.

    But sometimes part of the trick is understanding when more “nuance” is not necessarily more truth, and where several things were simply irrelevant. Like the idea that the Battle of Kosovo hundreds of years ago (which is legitimately important to Serbs and probably motivated a number of the rank and file) was of scant importance to Milosevic, much less a reason why he and the KLA did what they did.

    And that I think is what really gets here.

    “No, I don’t want to move to Iran or live in any theocracy.”

    Indeed, and neither do I. But that is why I hammered the equivalence as hard as I do. Why, if you truly did believe- as you phrased- that the convictions in Iran and in the US were so equivalent Would you not move, beyond maybe personal convenience or business connections?

    “You are aware that this is just a skirmish”

    Indeed, and one I did on the road from California to Ohio.

    ” and that some of the people on your side want Jesus or white men to rule over the US.”

    Indeed, I have experienced them firsthand and I have never been fond of the “Alt-Right.” Though I do not have any particular opposition to Jesus, as a disclaimer.

    “I could have continued down each of your points. But it is endless. Both sides will keep rolling out truths, half-truths and lies.”

    Well, I am sorry you really believe that. Because I don’t think it really has to be.

    What definition lies under the term ransom in any given copy of a legal dictionary will not change. Among others.

    “This has been debunked in what you would refer to as the ‘MSM’.”

    Then why not do it over again?

    And how has it debunked the basic meaning of ransom, as it is defined and persecuted in American states?

    Again, how would we report on someone who kidnapped the daughter of someone they defeated in a civil suit, promised to return her upon the damages being paid, and claimed this was not a ransom?

    And what if the daughter was kidnapped for reasons that had (or supposedly had) nothing to do with the damages but which the hostage taker/victorious plaintiff still claimed they would be returned when the damages were paid and again that this was not a ransom?

    And what if the plaintiff turned out to be the Sheriff of a neighboring country who threw the daughter in prison indefinitely on DUI charges not relevant to the case, stated she would be returned when the damages were paid, and that this totally was not a ransom?

    Those are the main versions of this story that the White House and the supposedly debunking “MSM” have put forth. But would any of them stand scrutiny under American law?

    And if not, what differentiates this from those hypotheticals?

    “I commented on this, because the original article was nowhere near as good as you are. ”

    Well, I appreciate that, but I think the video isn’t nearly as bad there.

    “The original piece and most of the talking points are highly partisan.”

    True, but to go back to the Golden Means Fallacy, just because something is highly partisan does not mean it is the truth.

    If I was dumb enough to claim that Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya and you claimed he wasn’t, the issue would be highly partisan but that does not mean the truth would be in the “respectable” middle between the highly partisan “extremes.”

    I do think it is a sad point if the public has gotten into an issue like it, but that doesn’t mean truth vanishes.

    “Sorry, it simply doesn’t look like a duck or quack like a duck to anyone who doesn’t hate Obama.”

    And that claim is both partisan and highly untrue.

    Again, look at the legal dictionaries involved and imagine what would happen if the equivalent of this case happened in a local American town.

    The truth is that Totten doesn’t’ hate Obama now- though he has certainly been disillusioned with him-, and among others. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t read a legal dictionary.

    “Obama does seem tone deaf sometimes. But W Bush once referred to the war in Iraq as a Crusade – Oops!”

    To be honest, I would be happy if tone deafness were the most of his flaws. But I have no reason to believe that is the case.

      OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Turtler. | August 28, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      It would be fascinating (I mean that) to continue this discussion. I don’t like that you accused me of dishonesty because I wished to point out that Iranian animus towards us comes with justification from their point of view. Repression has repercussions. Think about the aftermath of the French Revolution. The revolutionaries weren’t in a mood for moderation and they weren’t religious.

      But the bottom line is the Reagan authorized the court that ultimately led to our need to honor our commitment to turn that money over to Iran. I think they had the resources to continue to support terror without that cash. If anything, the rulers of Iran have a young, restive population. Perhaps that money will go to benefit them and moderate the country. Perhaps? I don’t claim that it will. What I claim is that we were obligated to return it and that defying that obligation could have had repercussions in other agreements we have around the world.

        “It would be fascinating (I mean that) to continue this discussion.”

        Fair enough. Well, I did ask if there was a way to contact you on another thing, regarding the Hillary. So there is that.

        “I don’t like that you accused me of dishonesty because I wished to point out that Iranian animus towards us comes with justification from their point of view. “”

        I don’t like accusing people of dishonesty, to be honest. It isn’t like the genteel debating of my youth. But I felt I had no choice in the matter.

        You accused me of seeming to think that history started with the theocratic coup that ended the revolution in 1979 in response to a comment that listed many events that happened before 1979. As I said before, I do not see any honest way to read that comment and come to that conclusion. Ergo, I have to draw the conclusion I have to draw.

        And I do not deny that the Iranian people can have plenty of legitimate animosity towards us, in the same way I don’t deny the French, Argentine, Chilean, or Russian people it. And yes, our history with the Iranian people has been patchy.

        It is just that by its’ very nature, a totalitarian regime has very little influence from the ground level people. So I largely find discussing things like what the Iranian public thinks of the Anglo-American role in Ajax or the Wahhabist mass murder of South Gulf Shiites to be beside the point; the Ayatollah and the Mullahs do not come at it from the same perspective the Iranian people do.

        And for as much as the Iranian people might have animosity towards us, that was certainly counterbalanced by how they had animosity towards the regime for things like Ahmadinejad’s election rigging, which led to the blood sacrifice of the Green movement. So while public opinion is hard to overstate, it’s certainly not worth assuming that a tyranny will represent the wishes of its’ people.

        “Repression has repercussions. Think about the aftermath of the French Revolution. The revolutionaries weren’t in a mood for moderation”

        If anything, the French Revolution was a case of traditional Bourbon repression falling through. People like the Universal Spider or Louis XIV could and did utterly maim parlements, local assemblies, noble dynasties, and cities that did not bend to their will. Louis XVI did not, and generally tried to rule with the velvet glove. When he heard news of the Estates not doing their part he did try to muster the army outside Paris, but was headed off at the pass by the storming of the Bastille and its’ arsenal and then he tried to play the moderate and compromise.

        He did eventually listen to Marie and her fellow die hards and tried to escape/side with the anti-revolutionary coalition, but he did so well behind people like the future Charles X and ultimately too late.

        I agree with the wider point you made, and as I mentioned before I am no apologist for Shah Reza or SAVAK. But I do think this isn’t the best example to use.

        “But the bottom line is the Reagan authorized the court that ultimately led to our need to honor our commitment to turn that money over to Iran. ”

        Agreed, and I do not deny it. And I hold that against him too.

        And particularly if it led to the idea that we are committed to turning it over to the current dictatorship. So I cannot be accused of merely vilifying Obama for this mess.

        Ultimately we will have to set records straight with the Iranian people and government, and that includes baggage like this failed arms deal. However, I do not think that necessitates us giving the money to the current dictatorship, who again does not respect half the legal principles it is demanding the money on the basis of (like interest) anyway.

        I would have said that it would have been better to wait until the Iranian dictatorship gets torn down and replaced with something not hostile enough to make us fear for the lives of people just by paying money, and who preferably would be amicable to a grand deal where we both lay our cards out on the table- things like the hostage crisis in 1979, our freezing of Iranian funds, etc- and come to a settlement.

        That does not mean a government that completely likes us, would overlook any old baggage in our mutual history, or would be utterly servile to us. I will not pretend that nations do not have their own interests, and that is why we would still have very different interests with Russia regarding the gas price even if the latter turned into an utopian democratic republic tomorrow.

        But that is because I do not think a new government would have to perfectly like us in order for there to be honest, civilized diplomacy. To say the Quay d’Orsay has issues with us and Britain is like saying France has a few different kinds of cheeses, but the last French terror attacks on American shipping happened when the Tricolor was still new.

        It’s late in the game for that, but that is what I would have advocated.

        “I think they had the resources to continue to support terror without that cash. ”

        Of course. But this is where we get into oppertunity cost, and why one of the things I flogged the White House talking heads for by saying it was invested in civilian things.

        A dollar I spend on a Diet Coke is a dollar I can’t spend on a video game, or rent payment, or solid food, or anything else. Likewise, the Iranian regime has a finite amount of resources with which to prop up Assad, aid Hezbollah, keep diplomatic ties with Putin/the PRC/etc, keep the population repressed, and keep the population appeased.

        The finiteness of those resources is not changed by dumping a billion plus dollars into it. But what is changed is the amount of money Iran has to spend on them. Which means that all other things being equal, it will be in the position to spend more doing whatever it wants to. Whether tyrannizing the population, financing a naval buildup in the Gulf, or supporting bombmakers that have hit as far afield as Argentina.

        “If anything, the rulers of Iran have a young, restive population. Perhaps that money will go to benefit them and moderate the country.”

        Agreed on the former.

        But as for the latter, I think that is doubtful. I do think most of the moderating has been done against the wishes of the regime (whether the “Hardliners” like Ahmadinijad, or the “Moderates” like Rouhani the political prisoner executioner, who are both basically two sets of puppets dancing off of the Ayatollah’s hands).

        While the regime has certainly spent a lot of money keeping its’ far-more-moderate population pacified, that hasn’t been in making them more moderate or peaceful so much as it has been in keeping them tyrannized enough to keep the Mullahs in power, and funding some of the nastiest propaganda you can imagine.

        I do think that without the current regime, the Iranian population would not be anywhere near as hostile as it is. Whereas I do think it is safe to say that groups like the Saud *might*- *MIGHT*- be the pressure valve on a population that is much more hostile to us than they are, I don’t think there’s much reason to believe that here.

        And in general I do think it’s a risky plan to believe that anyway.

        “Perhaps? I don’t claim that it will. What I claim is that we were obligated to return it and that defying that obligation could have had repercussions in other agreements we have around the world.”

        I can believe it, but I also believe that defying that obligation to those who were victimized by Iranian terror attacks and deemed in need of compensation can have similar repercussions. Both for our agreements around the world and for our own legal judgements at home.

        And in light of that I don’t see much good reason why the regime should receive this money, even if I admit it is late enough in the game that it probably won’t change.

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