The Obama administration is increasingly growing defensive, after two U.S. Navy boats and 10 sailors were detained by Iran, particularly while Republicans running for president argue that America has grown weaker under Obama’s leadership.
During the White House press briefing today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest accused Republicans of being unpatriotic in response to the successful release of the sailors.
“I know that the only people who are unhappy about it are Republicans for some reason,” Earnest said.
But it seems that Republican attacks are upsetting White House staff, particularly after the photos of the Iranians forcing the U.S. sailors to surrender went viral and was a prominent topic during the presidential debate last night.
“I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America,” Sen. Ted Cruz said during the opening question of the debate.
“This president has let it diminish to a point where tinpot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our Navy ships,” Christie said during the debate. “It is disgraceful.”
Donald Trump denounced the sight of “Iranian wise guys having guns” to the heads of the American sailors. “It was a terrible sight. A terrible sight,” he added. “And the only reason we got them back is because we owed them with a stupid deal, $150 billion.”
Earnest criticized Republicans for their “rather rash and irresponsible reactions” to the incident suggesting that “if we had followed the advice of some of the Republican critics of the administration, we’d probably be in a bloody war with Iran right now over our sailors.”
He argued that the sailors’ release from Iranian custody was proof Obama was pursuing a smart diplomatic strategy with the country.
“I think it underscores the value of responsible, mature presidential leadership,” Earnest said.