Posts Tagged ‘Foreign policy’

“No ransom policy” but Obama paid $400 million cash for release of 4 prisoners from Iran

August 3, 2016

The Obama/Clinton followed by the Obama/Kerry foreign policy legacy will come to be seen as a low point in US history. It has been a foreign policy dominated by their own fears and devoid of courage. Paralysis by analysis.

The much publicised US policy of not paying ransom for the release of US prisoners in foreign countries is not quite all what it seems. It would seem that secretly paid ransoms are OK.


The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. 

The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17 — without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo. ……. But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

“This break with longstanding U.S. policy [not to] put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.

Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.

To claim that it was coincidence is a little ingenuous and there seems little doubt it was a ransom:

IndependentSentinel:  January 22, 2016

Obama Paid Out A Ransom to Iran

The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money to Iran around the same time its theocratic government allowed three American prisoners to fly out of Tehran on Sunday aboard a Dassault Falcon jet owned by the Swiss air force. The prisoner swap also involved freedom for two other Americans held in Iran as well as for seven Iranians charged or convicted by the U.S. and another 21 under investigation.

“Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the overall interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal,” the office of the Tehran prosecutor said.

Brigadier General Hassan Naqdi, the head of the Iranian regime’s notorious Basij militia, claimed on Wednesday that Iran had received $1.7 billion from the U.S. in exchange for the release of imprisoned Americans.


image – Independent Sentinel


Obama retreats – “Yes, We can” has become “But, We won’t”

May 29, 2014

Barack Obama’s two terms in office will come to be remembered for high expectations and his many good intentions let down by his aversion to risk, his caution and his indecision. Yesterday at a speech at West Point he reconfirmed my perceptions when he laid out his vision of a US foreign policy which would be less brash, more focused on diplomacy, more engaged with partners and – above all – cheaper. It could be considered a return to considered prudence after the knee-jerk, costly and ineffective Bush adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in this case I think this is more a reflection of cost pressure, indecision and risk aversion rather than prudence.

He still wants the US to lead – but from the back.

Katy Kay – BBC:

But Mr Obama ducks the trickiest moment of his foreign policy – the red line in Syria and the decision to go to Congress for a vote on force, which ultimately fell apart. This is unsurprising, as the American public has zero interest staying a day longer than planned in Afghanistan, much less committing to another large-scale military mission.The speech reflects the confusion of a country that is fed up with intervention but still likes the idea of being the world leader

The Washington Post report is not very enthusiastic.

Coming more than six years into a presidency devoted to winding down the wars, the speech featured a firm defense of his administration’s handling of foreign crises — including those in Nigeria, Syria and Ukraine — and a suggestion that many critics are out of step with a nation tired from 13 years of war. ….. 

“Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead,” Obama said. “If we don’t, no one else will.” …….. 

But Obama’s speech appeared to be less about changing the terms of the foreign policy debate in Washington than about appealing to a war-weary electorate, which twice chose him as president on platforms of steady withdrawal from foreign military operations. The address echoed Obama’s earlier defenses of his foreign policy — stressing such themes as multilateralism, Muslim outreach and ending torture — as a corrective response to the approach of the George W. Bush administration.

The US is tired with all the interventions George Bush led them into. In that sense Obama’s retreat from intervention as the “first step” is welcome. But the retreat is enforced and cutting cost is one of the key drivers. It appears to me that Obama is more reactive than pro-active. His driving from the back seat is very close to an abdication of leadership.

The heady days and great expectations of “Yes, We can!” have evaporated and Obama will be remembered for “But, We won’t”. 

%d bloggers like this: