President Obama’s day is going poorly.
It was going just as expected – full of media excitement and White House eagerness in preparation for President Obama’s ultimate State of the Union address – until the Iranians, our new friends, decided to seize two US Navy vessels. According to the Associated Press, “The crew of two small Navy craft are being held by Iran, but American officials have received assurances from Tehran that the crew and vessels will be returned safely and promptly.”
The Pentagon claims that 10 US Navy sailors drifted into Iranian waters after their two boats encountered mechanical problems. The Iranians say they won’t turn over the sailors until the morning at the earliest. The Iranians also say that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took action because American sailors were trespassing in Iranian waters – they said the Americans were “snooping.” One of the ten sailors is a woman.
Secretary of State John Kerry called his good friend, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, to “try to get to this outcome.” Meanwhile, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that it was to solve situations like this – i.e. the Iranian seizure of American vessels – that the Obama administration signed off on the devastating Iran nuclear deal. Earnest expanded on this laughable position, telling CNN, “Certainly, everybody should be aware of the fact we have been in touch with the Iranians and they have ensured us that our sailors are safe and that they’ll be allowed to continue their journey promptly.”
The Obama administration is supposed to release $100 billion in assets to the Iranian government in just a few days.
The Obama team has said their man will not address the Iranian sailor situation tonight. Presumably, he will mention the fact that today the Pentagon announced it would release 10 Gitmo detainees.
The Iranians obviously intend to humiliate President Obama. That’s the goal – that’s why they’re holding the sailors until morning. And the entire situation creates uncomfortable questions for the White House: What were the rules of engagement here? Why didn’t the Obama administration achieve the sailors’ immediate release? How did the sailors end up in Iranian territorial waters, which were wildly out of the path of their journey? How did two boats simultaneously break down?
No answers are forthcoming. But there will be no #EmptySeat for the American sailors. There will be no hashtagging #BringBackOurSailors. There will instead be some happy talk about how President Obama’s warm relationship with Iran has averted catastrophic war – even though it’s brought us to the point where our sailors are now being arrested by the Iranians.
America used to be a country where our Navy blockaded the Soviet Navy to prevent the importation of missiles into Cuba. Now we’re a country blockaded by the Iranians, who attempt to achieve a nuclear weapon with our go-ahead.
The state of our union is, as of tonight, pathetic.
UPDATE: Kerry has spoken out on Twitter:
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) January 12, 2016