Yesterday, two US Navy patrol boats had mechanical problems and drifted into Iranian waters on a routine patrol from Bahrain to Kuwait, where they were promptly seized and interrogated – as it was Iran’s right to do. Ten US sailors were taken in custody. On cue, the right-wing promptly lost their collective minds and began howling for war while disparaging President Obama for his “weakness” – because apparently boats don’t break down under Republican leadership.
Tom Cotton, the leader of the “47 traitors” and the man who has accepted over a million dollars from the Israelis to conspire against his Commander-in-Chief and provoke an international war called it “humiliating.” The rest of the right-wing echo chamber had similar things to say.
An almost audible sigh of disappointment could be heard from conservatives around the country when Iran released the sailors and the boats unharmed early on Wednesday, who promptly returned to their original mission. The right-wing was almost certainly hoping this would escalate into a hostage crisis like the one they used to ruin President Jimmy Carter’s political career; instead, it turned into a huge win for Obama.
Far from being a “humiliation,” it shows just how successful his negotiations with Iran have been. By releasing the sailors so quickly, the Iranians have demonstrated that they are very serious about re-establishing good relations with us and the rest of the world; that they truly want the sanctions on them lifted, and that they are worthy of our trust by responding to politeness and respect with the same attitude.
Happy to see dialog and respect, not threats and impetuousness, swiftly resolved the #sailors episode. Let’s learn from this latest example.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 13, 2016
Without the nuclear deal and without President Obama’s diplomatic approach, this could have been a much bigger crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sharif now have a very close relationship after all the months of negotiations – all it took was a phone call.
Imagine if two Iranian boats had drifted into American waters – the right wing would be screaming for them to be sent to Gitmo and for us to carpet-bomb Tehran. The Iranians were within their full rights to seize the boats – and they let them go once they realized there was no malicious intent.
And with that, a minor incident remains a minor incident.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.