Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ridiculous GOP Hysteria and Opportunism Are Exposed by the Iranian Crisis that Never Happened

by Nomad

Once again, in an attempt to humiliate the president, to paint Obama as a weak leader and to exploit what might have been an international crisis, the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot. 


In a surprising twist, Iranian officials have managed to make fools of the Republican candidates and spokesmen for the GOP.

When two U.S. Navy boats were seized in Iranian waters on Tuesday, it could easily have developed into an international crisis. It had all of the makings of a diplomatic disaster for Obama who had fought so hard for peaceful solutions in dealing with the often difficult Iranian Republic. Now, it appeared to be about to blow up in his face

The New York Times quoted Fars, state-run Iranian news Agency, Fars, an Iranian state news agency, as saying that the 10 sailors had been arrested, suspected of “snooping.”

Strength and Weakness
The older Republicans closed their eyes and envisioned Jimmy Carter's grimace and blindfolded hostages being paraded before the international press. What a joyful sight must have played in the imaginations of the Republican candidates. 
It must have seemed like a dream come true. Too, too bad about those ten US servicemen but.. oh well..

Apparently, nothing could have pleased President Obama's critics more, since they were so hasty to judge the Commander in Chief 's ability to resolve the problem. They seemed so eager to condemn even though nobody had a clue what was going on in private.
Even as the president prepared to deliver his State of the Union speech, his critics were pouncing on the Iranian dispute.

Here's a sampling:
Said Dan Gainor of the right-wing Media Research Center
Obama manages to embarrass America and remind world how weak he is.
How Iran's actions became the President's embarrassment wasn't explained. Clearly high-level diplomacy was being conducted behind closed doors. At that stage, it was hard to actually even call it a crisis at all. 

Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois smugly said that he was confident that the president wouldn't be speaking about "his new partner, Iran" in his speech before Congress. (Since It wasn't actually a foreign policy speech, Roskam was probably correct.)

Some criticized the president for not postponing the speech altogether. It showed, they suggested, how little he cared and how unwilling he was to stand up to Iranian aggression. The almost universal message was Obama equaled weakness. 

The speech went on as scheduled. The president pretty much stuck to the problems America faced. When it came to ISIS and the terrorist threat, he was direct:
If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.
The threat was back with examples and not crowd-pleasing tough guy talk. Reminding the GOP of his successes in protecting America produced rows of Cheney-like sneers. 

Embarrassment and Humiliation
When the news broke, lackluster candidate JEB scrambled to his feet and declared that the situation revealed Obama's "humiliatingly weak" Iran policy. 
Playing the role of a high school mean girl, JEB tweeted (boldly)
"If our sailors aren’t coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining."
It came across  more like the stereotypical angry wife, peeved at her husband's late night poker game.
Keep in mind this wasn't Day 24 of the crisis. In fact, less than 24 hours had passed since the crew members were picked up by Iranian patrols.

Front-runner Donald Trump was somewhat more restrained but not much. He said he hoped for the best outcome but added
 "It's just an indication of where the hell we're going."
If that observation is true, then the American people ought to be very happy as it turns out. The indications strongly suggest that limiting the bluster as much as possible is the right path. Americans ought to be praising the calm reaction that was shown by both American and Iranian diplomats. 

Initially Iranian officials demanded an explanation and an apology. Whether that happened it is unclear. However, it wouldn't have been out of order. When Turkey shot down a Russian bomber that had strayed into Turkish airspace, Obama had stated that every country had a right to defend its borders. (He did, wisely, stop short of actually supporting the decision to down the fighter.)

After interrogating the sailors, the Iranian authorities seemed satisfied that there was no conspiracy. The Iranian regime also probably realized it had more to gain by a peaceful response. 

Whatever the rationale, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman told state-run media the boats had accidentally strayed into Iranian waters. IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif said
"The evidence suggests that they unintentionally entered the Iranian waters because of the failure of their navigational system."
Things went pretty smoothly after that. By Wednesday afternoon, the crewmen, with their boats back in working order, were escorted to a rendezvous point in international waters in the Persian Gulf. A US cruiser picked them and, in a later statement , the Navy said that there were no indications that the sailors had been harmed during their detention.

All in all, the incident was handled as cordially could ever be expected, given the two nation's troubled relationship. It could be argued that this was a textbook example of how two proud nations can handle unexpected developments and potential crisis without resorting to threats or other forms of intimidation. 

What Real Leaders Should Know
Unfortunately, for the Obama's critics, the incident revealed something else. 
The kind of knee-jerk reaction inside the Republican Party to any unfortunate event  has become the norm these days. From Syria refugees to South American children at the border, from Ebola in Africa to terror attacks in other countries this overreaction seems to occur all the time nowadays.
Worst of all, it is showing up in the same people who claim to be qualified to sit in the White House. 
All in all, the whole thing- lasting less than a day- made the Republicans look like fools. 

Every true leader should know that very often strength is revealed by a calm and patient attitude and not by being threatening and hysterical. 

Cynics would say the Republican reaction was merely a case of political exploitation, not hysteria.
That's probably true. 
Trump and Bush really ought to have known that their remarks wouldn't be helpful and indeed might well have provoked a hostile reaction from the Iranians. It might have encouraged the Iranians to put the 10 on trial as spies and to face execution. Bush and Trump simply didn't give a damn about the consequences of their public statements.

Whether this is mindless hysteria or calculated Republican opportunism, the results are the same. Damage to our image abroad, a sense that America is so divided that its leadership can no longer be trusted.

This mentality within the GOP has plagued the party for some time. And it has always had negative results.
In fact, the same mistake was made in the last election when candidate Romney actually appeared to smirk when delivering the news of the attacks in Benghazi.
His glee at the taking of four American lives was a bit too obvious and he paid a heavy price.

When it comes It seems as though the Republican party has learned absolutely nothing since the last election. 


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