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  #1  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:26 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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You're Jimmy Carter. Hostages have been taken in Iran. What do you do?

This has always been an intriguing question to me, because I think I would have pursued a targeted military rescue mission, over some sort of overt military invasion. But Carter did try that, with disastrous results (the rescue convoy crashed before completing its mission). What would have been your course of action?

Meanwhile, can someone enlighten me on the straight dope as to how we did secure the hostages release? As the release came minutes after Regan was sworn in, I had long thought it well settled that the new Regan administration had promised payment (money or weapons) in exchange for the release. Recent documentaries on Reagan, though, have left me uncertain - while it is acknowledged that there were guns for hostages between the US and Iran, that apparently came later in the 1980's, and was the first half of Iran-Contra. So, what deal was made in 1981? (and by whom; did the Carter administration actually secure the release?)
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:33 PM
Rune Rune is online now
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For starters. Taken (not just freezing) all international funds belonging to Iran. Carpet bombed the fucking shit out of the fuckers.
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:38 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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State bluntly that overrunning an embassy is an act of war and that the U.S. has the capacity to casually inflict 1,000 Iranian casualties for every dead hostage, so it's okay if Iran wants to sever relations but they won't be forcing the U.S. into any concessions so they may as well free the hostages and call it a day.

And to show I mean business, blockade the Persian Gulf and turn back all Iranian ships.
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  #4  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:40 PM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
This has always been an intriguing question to me, because I think I would have pursued a targeted military rescue mission, over some sort of overt military invasion. But Carter did try that, with disastrous results (the rescue convoy crashed before completing its mission). What would have been your course of action?
The rescue operation was doomed from the start. The military hadn't really trained for such a thing, they had poor coordination at that time between the different branches, and the equipment used hadn't been tested in those conditions (remember, at that time our military was still reeling from Vietnam, and most of it was geared to large scale war in Europe, not desert operations). It was a total cluster fuck.

What would I have done? I probably would have tried to do more to make sure it didn't happen in the the first place. However, assuming it did, I most likely would have pressured my 'allies' in the ME to allow the US to start staging forces into the area (carriers, troops, logistics...everything that would make large scale military action credible) while putting extreme pressure on the Revolutionary government to give up the hostages. Maybe we could have staged troops in Turkey (though that's just a WAG based on looking at a map). The idea would have been to have a credible threat that Iran would have to honor, and hopefully by showing them a credible threat they would be willing to negotiate seriously for the release.

Plus offer them some carrots (not sure what they would be, but I'd have advisers so I just need to be the big picture guy). If, by the time the military had staged up and trained in the environment and had it's logistics in place the Iranians were still fucking around...well then, look at the options and possibly pull the trigger if that's what it would take. I don't believe that it would take an actual war, however...just a credible threat backed up by our allies and with some juicy carrots thrown in to sweeten the pot.

Quote:
Meanwhile, can someone enlighten me on the straight dope as to how we did secure the hostages release? As the release came minutes after Regan was sworn in, I had long thought it well settled that the new Regan administration had promised payment (money or weapons) in exchange for the release. Recent documentaries on Reagan, though, have left me uncertain - while it is acknowledged that there were guns for hostages between the US and Iran, that apparently came later in the 1980's, and was the first half of Iran-Contra. So, what deal was made in 1981? (and by whom; did the Carter administration actually secure the release?)
Carter was in negotiations with the Iranians even in the literal last hour of his presidency but they waited (possibly for spite) until Reagan took over to announce their willingness to turn over the hostages. There are all sorts of explanations of that, but I think they just disliked Carter and wanted him to look bad. It worked too.

-XT
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  #5  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:45 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by Rune View Post
For starters. Taken (not just freezing) all international funds belonging to Iran. Carpet bombed the fucking shit out of the fuckers.
A great way to strengthen the new regime. You doubt it when they call America evil? Look! there are the American bombers coming to kill you! You say you had nothing to do with any hostages? They don't care! They're Americans! They just like killing.
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  #6  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:47 PM
XT XT is offline
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Yeah, I don't think simply bombing the crap out of them would have been too effective, unless the goal was to get the hostages (along with boat loads of Iranians) killed.

-XT
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  #7  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:53 PM
zoid zoid is online now
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You're Jimmy Carter. Hostages have been taken in Iran. What do you do?

What do you DO?!

[Keanu Reeves] Shoot the hostage [/KR]
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2011, 01:02 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is online now
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Iran suffered a million casualties during the Iraqi invasion without giving in. I doubt a few carpet bombings would've phased them. It would just make the US look like impotent bullies and ensure the death of the hostages.
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  #9  
Old 03-13-2011, 01:11 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
What would I have done? I probably would have tried to do more to make sure it didn't happen in the the first place.
Are you making a general statement about not showing favor to the Shah, or do you have specific ideas in mind that would have avoided the revolution? (I was a baby when this all went down, but I've read that the US decision to allow the Shah to seek asylum in the States exacerbated anti-US sentiment in Iran. And I've of course read about Western efforts to undermine the democratic Iranian government, but that was in the 50's, and before Carter could have done something.)
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  #10  
Old 03-13-2011, 02:04 PM
XT XT is offline
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Originally Posted by Moriarty
Are you making a general statement about not showing favor to the Shah, or do you have specific ideas in mind that would have avoided the revolution? (I was a baby when this all went down, but I've read that the US decision to allow the Shah to seek asylum in the States exacerbated anti-US sentiment in Iran. And I've of course read about Western efforts to undermine the democratic Iranian government, but that was in the 50's, and before Carter could have done something.)
I was actually thinking more along the lines of being more proactive about our own personnel in Iran when things started to come apart. I suppose we could have done more early on to support the Shah actively (and gained concessions from him for future reform), but that wasn't what I had in mind, no.

-XT
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  #11  
Old 03-13-2011, 02:56 PM
Desert Nomad Desert Nomad is offline
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I would not have allowed the Shah into America... the guy was a brutal dictator who used his SAVAK security (secret police) to control the population.

Last edited by Desert Nomad; 03-13-2011 at 02:56 PM..
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  #12  
Old 03-13-2011, 03:12 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
Iran suffered a million casualties during the Iraqi invasion without giving in. I doubt a few carpet bombings would've phased them. It would just make the US look like impotent bullies and ensure the death of the hostages.
I agree with this completely. It might feel good to sit back in your Oval Office chair and tell Brzezinski to "bomb the fuckers until they cry for mercy" in your soft, Georgia accent, but it's not likely to improve the situation.

I do like the idea of large scale "staging" maneuvers in a neighboring ally country, but I wonder what was given as the behind the scenes consideration in exchange for the hostages lives. Money? Guns?
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  #13  
Old 03-13-2011, 05:32 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Originally Posted by Desert Nomad View Post
I would not have allowed the Shah into America... the guy was a brutal dictator who used his SAVAK security (secret police) to control the population.
...And the Islamic Republic was even more cruel and for the sole reason I would not negotiate with hostage-takers I would let the Shah in.

As for what to do once the hostages are taken, the best thing I suppose is to threaten military action unless I can pull an Iran-Contra type of deal and get Iran to help us in Afghanistan or something.
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  #14  
Old 03-13-2011, 05:52 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is online now
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Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
...And the Islamic Republic was even more cruel and for the sole reason I would not negotiate with hostage-takers I would let the Shah in.

As for what to do once the hostages are taken, the best thing I suppose is to threaten military action unless I can pull an Iran-Contra type of deal and get Iran to help us in Afghanistan or something.
The Shah was allowed entry to the US before the Hostages were taken. Its pretty hard to see how not letting him in would be negotiating with hostage takers.

Last edited by Simplicio; 03-13-2011 at 05:54 PM..
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  #15  
Old 03-13-2011, 05:54 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
The Shah was allowed entry to the US before the Hostages were taken.
Yes, although Iran demanded that the Shah be expelled afterwards
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  #16  
Old 03-14-2011, 07:24 AM
willthekittensurvive? willthekittensurvive? is offline
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I would not have allowed the Shah into America... the guy was a brutal dictator who used his SAVAK security (secret police) to control the population.
But, he was your brutal dictator who use..etc
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  #17  
Old 03-14-2011, 03:48 PM
Dick Dastardly Dick Dastardly is offline
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Sent the Shah back to Iran and apologised for organising the coup that put him in power and propping him up for decades and the hostages would have been released. Kill the 1979 revolution with kindness and by now it would have fallen without the Great Satan to propagandise against. Of course this would have at the very least unsettled all the other dictatorships in the region that we prop up and undermined our general regional policy so we didn't do it.
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  #18  
Old 03-14-2011, 07:55 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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Apologized for supporting a brutal dictator, turned the Shah over to Iran to be tried and executed, and then give the new Iranian government however much money they want in exchange for the hostages
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  #19  
Old 03-15-2011, 08:57 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
Apologized for supporting a brutal dictator, turned the Shah over to Iran to be tried and executed, and then give the new Iranian government however much money they want in exchange for the hostages
However much they want?! What sort of negotiating strategy is that?

Is this mainly just a reflection of your attitudes towards US policy?
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:02 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
However much they want?! What sort of negotiating strategy is that?

Is this mainly just a reflection of your attitudes towards US policy?
It was hyperbole, of course not however much they want, but they deserve something for essentially being an oppressed colony of the US. And it is a reflection of what I think is fair and what the US owes them
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  #21  
Old 03-15-2011, 10:21 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
It was hyperbole, of course not however much they want, but they deserve something for essentially being an oppressed colony of the US. And it is a reflection of what I think is fair and what the US owes them
I agree with you on a moral level (and it wouldn't surprise me if Carter did, too), but I meant my OP more from a practical perspective: full on invasion would not work, targeted strike didn't work; what else is there? If you go hat in hand, how much do you give up, and where does it leave you (Jimmy Carter) and the US?
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  #22  
Old 03-15-2011, 11:30 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
I agree with you on a moral level (and it wouldn't surprise me if Carter did, too), but I meant my OP more from a practical perspective: full on invasion would not work, targeted strike didn't work; what else is there? If you go hat in hand, how much do you give up, and where does it leave you (Jimmy Carter) and the US?
Hopefully in a better moral position.

I've never bought the fear that Communism was such a big threat. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in those times, but I don't fear radical Islam either, despite what small successes they've been able to accomplish. Let Iran or Vietnam or other countries fall to Soviet influence.
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  #23  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:35 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Some of the armchair tough guys in this thread (it's easy to be brave with other people's lives), should take a moment to imagine themselves as one of the hostages (or as a family member of one of the hostages), and then decide what you would want the President to do. Carter's issue was not fear of a fight (of course not, the US had vastly superior military technology), but with getting the hostages out alive. Military strikes (especially carpet bombing) were just going to get the hostages killed, which was exactly opposite of the goal.

The truth is that Carter was making the best decisions availiable, with the best possible advice, and nobody else could have done anything differently. Reagan (that fucking poseur) wasn't going to bomb anything either.

There wasn't any magical solution that would have gotten the hostages out alive without negotiation (and America sure as hell does negotiate with terrorists. Reagan was a master of it). There wasn't any military solution. All that was available was making a deal while simultaneously taking a chance on a covert rescue mission (a mission that was a longshot from the get go), which is exactly what Carter did. Nobody here is going to be smarter or more informed or have a better idea than the best available military, intelligence and diplomatic experts of the time. There was just no good solution.

It would be better to ask what could have been done on the front end to prevent the situation from ever happening in the first place.
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  #24  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:51 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is online now
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Having the benefit of Carter's mistakes, the morning after hostage seizure I would ask Congress for a declaration of war. Occupy the country and shoot anyone who tried to stop it. Take all the oil. And by all, I mean every last drop of it and then end the occupation. We would lose all the hostages and have very bad relations with the Soviets, but it would stop that sort of thing.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:54 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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What you you want the President to do if you were a hostage?
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  #26  
Old 03-16-2011, 11:39 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
Meanwhile, can someone enlighten me on the straight dope as to how we did secure the hostages release? As the release came minutes after Regan was sworn in, I had long thought it well settled that the new Regan administration had promised payment (money or weapons) in exchange for the release. Recent documentaries on Reagan, though, have left me uncertain - while it is acknowledged that there were guns for hostages between the US and Iran, that apparently came later in the 1980's, and was the first half of Iran-Contra. So, what deal was made in 1981? (and by whom; did the Carter administration actually secure the release?)
My understanding is that negotiations were going on but Iran waited until Carter was out of office to release the hostages to embarrass him and the US. There were a lot of rumors like they were afraid of Reagan or Reagan cut a backroom deal but the truth makes more sense. They were done with the hostages and wanted one good jab at the USA through Carter. The "guns for hostages" deal came later with different hostages. There Reagan basically said one thing (no negotiations with hostage takers) and did the exact opposite (sold arms to the enemy in exchange for hostages).

In Carter's place I would have negotiated but would have refused to make any concessions or deals. But I wouldn't have let the Shah into the US either. But I also wouldn't have supported the Shah in the first place. Our involvement in Iran, and so many other places, goes way back. Mistakes were made.

Last edited by shiftless; 03-16-2011 at 11:42 AM..
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  #27  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:06 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Weren't we covertly supporting Iraq back then in their war with Iran? Perhaps we didn't go far enough.
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  #28  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:11 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Having the benefit of Carter's mistakes, the morning after hostage seizure I would ask Congress for a declaration of war. Occupy the country and shoot anyone who tried to stop it. Take all the oil. And by all, I mean every last drop of it and then end the occupation. We would lose all the hostages and have very bad relations with the Soviets, but it would stop that sort of thing.
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  #29  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:12 PM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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Carter did the right thing. He got the hostages out alive (unless you want to quibble about the moments between Ray-Gun's inauguration and the release. He didn't start a war. His attempt at a rescue was ill-fated but I think worth a try. Going in with guns blazing would be moronic at best.
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  #30  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:20 PM
New Deal Democrat New Deal Democrat is offline
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Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly View Post
Sent the Shah back to Iran and apologised for organising the coup that put him in power and propping him up for decades and the hostages would have been released. Kill the 1979 revolution with kindness and by now it would have fallen without the Great Satan to propagandise against. Of course this would have at the very least unsettled all the other dictatorships in the region that we prop up and undermined our general regional policy so we didn't do it.
I agree that yours would have been the just course of action. Unfortunately, the Republican Party would have made a big campaign issue of it, and Ronald Reagan's margin of victory over Jimmy Carter would have been even larger.
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  #31  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:20 PM
kidchameleon kidchameleon is offline
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Is putting on a sweater an option?
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  #32  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:32 PM
New Deal Democrat New Deal Democrat is offline
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The Iranian hostage crises is a reason I am glad that I am not President of the United States. Jimmy Carter did not have desirable options. Doing nothing made him look weak. His ill fated rescue effort could have resulted in all of the hostages being killed.

We should have learned from the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that the U.S. military is not good at occupying a hostile population that is willing to fight back. What we did learn during the War in the Gulf is that a country like Iran cannot stand up to the U.S. Air Force.

The best option I can think of is that the Carter administration should have told the new leaders of Iran that if they killed the hostages the U.S. Air Force would destroy as much of the Iranian military from the air as possible, while also destroying electric power plants. At the time there still were reasonable and realistic leaders of the Iranian Revolution who may have anticipated an Iraqi invasion. The threat I describe would have been effective with them.
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  #33  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:50 PM
New Deal Democrat New Deal Democrat is offline
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Having the benefit of Carter's mistakes, the morning after hostage seizure I would ask Congress for a declaration of war. Occupy the country and shoot anyone who tried to stop it. Take all the oil. And by all, I mean every last drop of it and then end the occupation. We would lose all the hostages and have very bad relations with the Soviets, but it would stop that sort of thing.
The land mass of Iran is greater than that of Afghanistan and Iraq.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat...=me&rank=18#ir

The population of Iran is also greater than the combined population of those two countries.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat...sas&rank=40#af

I do not think an occupation would have been a good idea. Killing every Iranian who opposed us would have unified the Islamic world against us during a time when we still had to contend with the Soviet Union.
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  #34  
Old 03-16-2011, 12:50 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I'm sure that assurances of that sort were made to Iran at the time, and it was really the best bargaining chip that the US had. The hostages could only stay our hands if they were alive. If they were killed, the Iranians knew (and I have no doubt US negotiators made it as clear as a bell if they didn't know) that there would be hell to pay.
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  #35  
Old 03-16-2011, 01:57 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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The only thing I could say I would have done differently is not trust the generals who said they could conduct a successful rescue mission. I would have considered discussing with Iran the extradition of the Shah, unfreezing financial assets, and official recognition if they could act like a legitimate government and stop holding hostages. Maybe this was done, and the Revolutionary Government said no.
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