The Obama administration was finally forced to admit this week that it had paid a $400 million cash ransom to the Iranian regime to secure the release of four Americans at the same time the nuclear deal went into effect.
President Barack Obama insisted earlier this month: “We do not pay ransom.” He added: “This wasn’t some nefarious deal.” (Thursday, admitting the cash secured the Americans’ release, the White House called it “leverage,” not ransom — a distinction without a difference.)
The payoff is problematic for several reasons. One is the fact that it creates new incentives for foreign regimes, and terrorists, to seize Americans. Another is that the Obama administration has threatened private citizens, such as the family of James Foley, lest they pay ransom to terrorists; as ever, the Obama administration is above the law.
Yet another reason is that the $400 million is part of a larger $1.7 billion settlement that the Iranian regime has already directed to its military, including potential terrorist operations, plus the ongoing war effort in Syria, where Iran has abetted that regime’s staggering atrocities.
But there are still hostages that remain — both direct and indirect. The direct hostages are those Americans that Iran has taken prisoner since the release in January.
And the indirect hostages are the State of Israel, which is in constant danger of attack by Iran or its terrorist proxies; as well as the Jewish people as a whole, whom Iran continues to target in word and in deed.
Israel’s vulnerability was laid bare this week when it was revealed that Russian warplanes are using a base in Iran to launch attacks inside Syria. In the past, Israel has tried to thwart the delivery of advanced Russian S-300 missiles to Iran as a “red line,” since the missiles would make any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, if necessary, more difficult. Instead of crossing that line, Russia has just walked around it. Putting Russian air assets inside Iran risks a wider conflict if Israel ever strikes.
That is a major strategic failure for Obama and the West. As my friend Ed Morrissey notes at HotAir:
For centuries, the West has employed a policy to deny Russia easy access to major shipping lanes in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean by denying them access to a warm-water port. That is the reason that both Great Britain and later the US deemed Iran and Afghanistan strategically critical. Russian entry into these shipping lanes could create dangerous confrontations and will certainly require more vigorous oversight.
(Amidst all the talk about Donald Trump’s friendly posture towards Russia, it is important to remember just how weak and accommodating Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been.)
Obama’s strategic failure is Israel’s strategic disaster. Iran now enjoys a Russian military and diplomatic shield, meaning that it can continue to threaten Israel — and Europe, by the way — with ballistic missiles and a creeping nuclear research program.
Moreover, Iran can continue to threaten Jewish communities around the world.
In 2012, Iran — via Hezbollah — carried out a terror attack on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria. In 2014, Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor investigating Iran’s role in a huge terror attack against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was assassinated.
These events happened even as the Obama administration — including Hillary Clinton — were pursuing early negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel and the Jews are in grave danger, thanks to Obama. And the person he has endorsed is no better.
Not even Clinton’s best defenders can name one thing she has done for Israel. She has embraced the antisemitic Black Lives Matter movement, which accuses Israel of “genocide.” And she not only supported the Iran deal, but also chose a running mate who boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 speech against it.
Can we take four more — eight more — years of being hostages?
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.