October 30, 2012

Carter and Obama: ‘He Who Is Merciful to the Cruel Ends Up Cruel to the Merciful’

Cover image: To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the "Arab Spring"

When the Iranian student revolutionaries took American hostages in 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter chose a path consistent with his character, but inconsistent with the American character.  He tried desperately, again and again, to prove to the Islamist revolutionaries and their ruling Mullahs that the big bad United States would not be a bully or resort to violence to enforce its views or to protect its assets, even when those assets are American citizens.  His strategy failed.

That strategy is still a failure. And, by all accounts, our current president is hell-bent on employing it whenever he can.

In a book that shows clearly the parallels between the dilemma posed to America by Iran during Carter's regime and the one Iran presents to our current president, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the "Arab Spring," Ruthie Blum brings the not-so-distant-history alive.

Blum's book is a must read for those who lived through and remember that first Iranian assault on American leadership. But it's also for those too young to remember that episode - and really, it's for everyone now living through the current Iranians' attack on America's role as leader of the free world and bulwark against the unfree world.  In both cases the Iranians have played America for a fool, and in both cases they had a U.S. leader who willingly, maybe even eagerly, took on that role.

For those old enough to remember, in 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president, he was furiously engaged in an effort to persuade the Islamists in Iran that the United States harbored only "genuine good will" towards them.  What he most sought from them was "dialogue," not disagreements.  His timidity encouraged rather than discouraged those who sought to overthrow America's long-time ally, the Shah of Iran.  Instead of reaching out to meet U.S. overtures, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers refused to meet, let alone negotiate, with Carter's emissaries.
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