One of the great concerns about the Obama presidency is his willingness to stand up for American interests. In the first 100 days there are already a number of indicators of irresolution, from his first interview to the seemingly endless apologies.
Given that China will probably plan its move for another year or two, the most immediately significant potential troublespots for testing Mr. Obama's backbone are Korea, Iran and Pakistan. Of these, Iran is probably first up. Several weeks ago, Iran flew an intelligence gathering drone over American military bases in Iraq. Although the USAF destroyed the drone, there were no further ramifications.
Last week, Iran fired on villages in the Kurdish area of northwestern Iraq. While Iraq protested, the U. S. said and did nothing.
Today, Iraq announced that it is releasing Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-born American reporter found guilty of espionage and sentenced last month to eight years in prison for espionage.
As Michael Ledeen, who has hands-on experience negotiating about hostages with the mullahs of Iran, asks in National Review Online, why did they do it?
Years ago, after I had negotiated with the Iranians about many things — including the release of American hostages — the first hostage, the Reverend Weir, returned to Washington. A friend at the New York Times called and said, "I know I'm missing something here; can you help me?" I said, "Ask yourself why they did it."
Two years later, when the world discovered that Iran had obtained anti-tank missiles, military intelligence, and other goodies from the United States, he called again to thank me for at least pointing him in the right direction.
Why does the Mafia release hostages? Because they have collected the ransom. So to all those who are looking for subtle reasons for the Saberi release, take it from someone who has been there. Iran collected its ransom. The mullahs aren't subtle, they're mafiosi. We probably won't know for a while what they got, who delivered it, and who worked the deal. But anyone familiar with the workings of the Islamic Republic has to assume that there was a payoff.
I don't know of a single case in which the mullahs released a hostage for any other reason.
President Obama doesn't often quote John Kennedy, there are probably good reasons. But one must hope that he doesn't misunderstand one of the great messages from JFK's inaugural
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Pay any price did not mean, must not mean what Mr. Obama most likely takes it to mean. The price of weakness is, in fact, priceless.
Mr. Obama's ability to see that which is real, as opposed to what he wishes to be real, is in doubt, a doubt that grows with each passing day.