Jan 20, 2006

25 years ago American hostages freed from Iran

After 444 days in captivity, Iran released the 52 American hostages taken captive in November 1979. At the start of the crisis, President Jimmy Carter froze Iranian assets in the US and stopped oil importation. Thereafter, he conducted months of fruitless negotiations with the terrorists before OK'ing a disastrous rescue attempt in which eight Americans were killed.

Eventually Warren Christopher negotiated a deal with the terrorists in which they got everything they wanted and the hostages were freed on the same day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President.

The US was changed forever. On the plus side, the crisis was responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan. On the downside:

  • The crisis was the first shot in our war against radical Islamists and served as a signal to them that the US would fold in the face of terror, which was bolstered by Reagan's decision to pull the Marines out of Lebanon.

  • The crisis launched the career of Ted Koppel, whose long-running show, Nightline, began as a nightly briefing on the crisis.

  • Warren Christopher became President Bill Clinton's secretary of state.

  • On a personal note, I attended the 1980 graduation of friend from Foreign Service School and the hostages were all anybody talked about. It was a very somber occasion and, as I recall, the feeling was that it was open season on US diplomats.


    Wikipedia's entry on the hostage crisis.

    On This Day, from the BBC.

    The diary entry of hostage Robert C. Ode on the day of the release.

    The Columbia Encyclopedia.

    Remembering the Failed Iranian Mission.

    444 Days: The Iranian hostage crisis and its aftermath.

    Jimmy Carter's Presidency from Encyclopedia Britannica.

    "The Wages of Appeasement" by Victor Davis Hanson.

    Iran Hostage Crisis from US History.com.

    Hostage Timeline.

    Terrorist attacks on Americans, 1979-1988 from Frontline.

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