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Iranian hostage takers meet with Congress

Yes, you read it correctly. Congressional leaders have met and shaken the hands of the very people who imprisoned American Embassy staff in 1979-80. I am sure you remember the evening news from that time: Day 120: America Held Hostage or the like, each day for the better part of a year.

According to SMCCDI, an Iranian student group, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) and Mr. Mohammed Javad Zarif met with Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-OH) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and others. SMCCDI claims these two men were among the students who took the entire US Embassy staff hostage.

I hope you find it as appalling as I do. The only reason we should want to meet with these people is to hear a public apology. Afterwards we might consider talking to them… about a transition from Mullahcracy to Democracy.

13 comments to Iranian hostage takers meet with Congress

  • Mark Ellott

    While broadly agreeing with your sentiment, it’s worth remembering that the Middle East doesn’t do democracy (apart from Israel). Which is why the coalition’s Iraq policy is flawed. Any election will place a mullah in charge who will then decide that democracy has served its purpose.

    Pessimistic? Moi? Surely not….

  • Yes, I agree Mark… Iranians badly needs personal liberty… I am not so sure they need democracy quite as urgently

  • Mark Ellott

    If I were being really cynical, I’d say that democracy is overrated….

    But I’m trying to behave 😉

  • A_t

    Pragmatism dictates that unless you’re planning on kicking off some hostilities with Iran any time soon (which is unlikely @ the mo), the kind of realistic moderation exerted by these representatives is probably rather more useful than the oh-so-rightous but ultimately futile “never forgive, never forget” attitudes bandied around here. So they were bad guys back then, probably still are… so? They’re in charge of the country. If you want any diplomatic progress, they’re the guys you talk to.

  • Andy Danger

    We don’t want “diplomatic progress” with these guys. It grants legitimacy to an odious regime, and the US is likely to get precisely jack shit out of this visit. Bad move.

  • Dale Amon

    Perry: Unfortuneately I don’t see ‘other’ on the table. The options available in Iran right now consists of: Mullahcracy, Democracy, Military Dictatorship or Theocracy. I do not see any feasible way to get from where the power blocks sit right now to any other option.

    A_t: Would you agree it is fair enough that we have truth in packaging and that people are made aware of exactly *who* our glorious leaders in Washington are supping with?

    Andy Danger: I agree wholly, and that is the point of my article. We don’t want relations with these people, we want them out of power. I think Iranians can deal with this themselves, but we should not be making it more difficult for them to kick the bastards out. We should give no legitimacy or air of ‘liberalism’ to these people.

  • A_t

    Dale, I completely agree we want them out of power, but this idea that speaking with them is somehow being complicit in their repressive & evil regime is kinda weird. Do we know what words were exchanged? They might’ve been along the lines of “you guys had better do x, y and z or we might kick your ass”. Do you object to that kind of talk? Also, why not give peaceful transition a chance? Certainly Iran’s still pretty bad, but is improving slowly, & if it could somehow make a peaceful switchover to a better form of government, that seems like a preferable solution to the uncompromising “they’re evil, let’s depose them” solution, which can often lead to other evil guys, albeit probably without the religious nuttiness, taking the reins.

  • Dale Amon

    A_t: If the situation there were stable and they were solidly in power, I might agree with you. But that is not the case. The country is approaching a revolutionary situation and these people are not on our side. We are on the side of the majority of the legislature, a large part of which has just walked out. The government there may fall or the liberals may end up disappeared. If we deal with the ex-kidnappers at all, it should be by putting some leader of the more liberal faction at the same table as them and letting it be known that those are the people with whom we wish to deal.

  • Jacob

    “they are in power – we must speak to them …”
    Isn’t that opportunistic and amoral, or anti-moral ?
    Hasn’t America been criticized for supporting authoritarian and immoral regimes (like the Shah’s) when they thought it served them in the cold war ?
    ( For the record: I wish the Shah hadn’t fallen, judging by the current regime, or that the Iranian people could find some other Shah to rid them of the mad mullahs).

    Seems some people criticize America for supporting pro American tyrants, but are all in favor of supporting tyrants, as long as they are anti-American. (They rule – ergo – we must speak to them).

    The alternative to speaking to them isn’t necessarily going to war against them. You can just shun them, boycott them, ignore them and clandestinely or openly support the opposition.

    Now you say: Maybe what Sen. Biden said was: “you guys had better do x, y and z or we might kick your ass”. Do you object to that kind of talk ?”
    Sen. Biden isn’t known for such kind of talk. He is known for licking ass, not kicking ass. That is what he did to Saddam, in a visit, before the war. And that’s also the only kind of talk the Iranian hoodlums agree to hear. They are selective in their reception of visitors, these visits are prepared in advance; no harsh words will be spoken, that’s arranged.

  • Dale Amon

    Jacob: It’s actually even worse than that. The Congressmen and Senators didn’t visit Iran: these Iranians did the Washington DC rounds and attended a dinner given by the two Republicans which other congressmen also attended.

    I didn’t state this specifically because it is covered in the article I linked to.

  • Anthony

    The timing is certainly odd:

    A quarter century after launching its 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran is facing a political showdown between elected and unelected lawmakers that is set to redefine the parameters of democratic rule in Iran.
    Already, a string of unprecedented acts has made the internal crisis one of the most severe in Iran’s modern history. Analysts say that only intervention by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, can now end the deadlock between reformist and conservative camps.


    Then again, perhaps the timing is deliberate.

  • While I agree with the sentiment that democracy is over-rated, and that liberty is much more important, I must take issue with the statement above that “Arabs don’t do democracy.”

    A more acurate statement would be “Arabs so far haven’t ‘done democracy'”

    Just like in the debate over what to do with Japan after WWII, when there were cries everywhere of “but Asians don’t do democracy!”, the premise that they haven’t means that they can’t is inherantly racist.

    And as a white male, I’m not too fond of lobbing that charge around, but in this case I’d say it definately sticks (to the assertion, not the person above who uttered it per se).

    Seems to be a popular delusion online that “Arabs can’t do democracy”, while I view it as “Arabs have never had the proper social/economic/political conditions to give it a proper go”..

    Lack of achievement does not equal lack of capacity, in an individual or a people.

  • M. Simon

    It was 444 days actually.

    The regimefor all it’s outward stability is tottering. Kind of like the shah in 1979.

    I expect to see the mullahs in Egypt or Saudi shortly.

    The Iranian system has all the trappings of democracy except liberty. And the people know it.

    The Persians are none too happy with the imported Arab tribalism.

    Time and the internet are working against the mullahs.