Reagan,Iran,hostages and how Politifact got it wrong

The good folks over at politifact put together an analysis of one of Mitt Romneys recent statements. The short version of what Romney said goes something like this

peace through strength..[is the reason]…the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn in.

Politifact rated this as “pants on fire”. This type of rating would imply that it was not only a false statement, but an intentional lie.

In forming their evaluation of this statement, politifact consulted “seven scholars of the period”. Well that’s nice.

Speaking as someone who was alive during this time and old enough to be politically aware enough to recall the period with some clarity, I can say that there is a very reasonable counter argument to be made here.

During the campaign period leading up to the 1980 election, then candidate Reagan was depicted as a cowboy.  His opposition wanted to paint him as a loose cannon with an itchy trigger finger. No matter how you slice it, the popular theme was that Carter was a calm political figure that one could count on for negotiation and civilized behavior and Reagen…well… wasn’t.

Regardless of what the truth was, on the international stage, this is clearly what the leaders of other countries were buying as the truth. Once Reagan had won the presidency, the international community knew they were going to get a different kind of treatment from the United States Government under Ronald Reagan than they had come to expect… and get… under the administration of Jimmy Carter.

Try to look at this situation from the point of view of the Iranians. At this point, the United States hostages from the embassy are nothing more than a bargaining chip. If you are trying to get the most for something you have, what do you do? You negotiate with those that you feel are going to give you the best possible deal.

This is the situation the Iranians find themselves in as the day draws closer when Ronald Reagan rather than Jimmy Carter will be the one they are negotiating with.  Why else would the Iranians want to push through an agreement literally within hours of Reagan taking office? Because they know that if the don’t, it is very likely that they will have to settle for either a) far less or b) the chance that instead of concessions, they will be faced with having to worry about a military assault from the United States.

The idea that it is just a coincidence that these agreements were made just as Reagan was taking office is the kind of stupidity that only an academic with no real world experience could subscribe too. It’s completely idiotic to not consider the points of view of the players and realize that their own actions clearly reveal that the Iranians saw their best deal with Carter. In other words, they feared what they might get if the negotiations are left to the new Reagan administration.

Source : Politifact Post

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