It’s Ralph Peters, so there’s plenty wrong with this column, but this part in particular stuck out to me:
Former President Bill Clinton crawled (well, flew in a Hollywood bigwig’s jet) to Pyongyang to stroke the world’s nuttiest dictator to free two journalists on ex-VP Al Gore’s payroll.
Glad the gals are back in the Land of the Big PX. But the message we sent was that you can grab gringos and instantly become a Friend of Bill. Wonder what Iran will want for hostages? Will the Taliban demand face-time with Tina Fey in exchange for the soldier it holds?
Really? We should be concerned that hostage takers in the future will…demand face time with Bill Clinton or Tina Fey? Is that really such an exorbitant ransom to pay in order to spare two American women from an unthinkably brutal prison system, wherein prisoners are so deprived of food that they sometimes resort to cannibalism when the opportunity arises (that is, when they aren’t lucky enough to catch a rat and eat it raw on the spot)?
Or would a Tina Fey photo op be too high a price for the life of a soldier held by the Taliban? Wait, maybe I’m asking the wrong question - Ralph Peters would rather see the soldier executed regardless.
For comparisons sake, consider that in the past Republican presidents have traded arms for hostages, but now Peters thinks a photo op is too steep a price? Sounds like a bargain to me. Obviously, hostage taking is a sordid business, and we don’t want to encourage it, but is there really a risk that a spike in hostage taking will occur now that the hostage takers know they might get a visit from Bill Clinton? I mean, he’s charming and charismatic but he ain’t all that. I would think the prospect of securing high end US weapons would do more to stoke a trend.
While worrying about potential Clinton-related Iranian ransom demands, Peters ignores the fact that we take hostages too, like these five Iranians. And then there are the "detainees" locked up without trial, or worse. I’m sure many of those prisoners wish there was a photo-op-out-of-jail option available to them too.
As an aside, the Iranian prisoner story is really rich with irony. U.S. forces seized five Iranians that were in Iraq on the invitation of the Iran-friendly Iraqi government – the same government that our soldiers are fighting (and dying) to defend. At the time of the arrest, and throughout their 2 1/2 year captivity, the Iraqi government has petitioned for their release, to no avail (sovereignty has its limits).
According to US officials, the men were detained because they were "associated with" Iran’s Quds force, a unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and were giving aid to Shiite militias. But here’s the thing, one of the main political parties in Iraq, ISCI (whose leader was feted by President Bush at the White House), was formed in Iran in close consultation with, and its militia was trained and equipped by…Iran’s Quds force! In fact, many ISCI members still receive pension payments from the Quds force. They might as well arrest the whole damn political party.
Round and round we go.