The newspapers and media have all been aflitter about the recent $400 billion payment to Iran and the timing of which is suspect given that Americans were conspicuously released as well. The Obama Administration denies any connect, but the schedule of the two is so blatant, most believe it was a payment for the release. And that has the political opponents raging about how Obama has taken the country to a lower depth now honoring ransoms for hostages.
However, history has a habit of repeating itself and being forgotten quickly. When many of us were still kids watching Walter Cronkite on the news channel, Jimmy Carter was President and the U.S. Embassy in 1979 was overrun by Iranian revolutionaries. The entire staff were taken hostage, 52 and all, and held for months with the revolutionary government demanding the return of the Shah first. The Carter Administration worked for months behind scenes, negotiating to no end. There was some rumor years later that the Reagan team worked behind the scenes to delay the American hostage release until Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election, but the deal really only came to light years later.
In mid-1987, on national TV, President Reagan admitted that not only was there a transaction that involved providing benefits to Iran in the form of weapons, it was specifically a trade associated with winning the release of the U.S. Embassy hostages. What would become well known later as the Iran-Contra Affair, the arms-for-hostages deal spelled out staining and embarrassment at the end of the Reagan Administration.
So for those who want to cry “foul” today for President Obama’s move, maybe he did pay for hostages. But he was not the first U.S. President to do so. President Reagan’s involvement was some 30 to 35 years earlier doing the same thing with Iran.