Don Cooke was one of the Americans taken hostage at our embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, almost exactly 33 years ago. On Fox News yesterday, he tied the Iranian hostage crisis to the situation in Benghazi, implicitly asserting that President Obama is projecting the same sort of weakness abroad as Jimmy Carter did in the wake of the crisis in Tehran. His reaction to the situation in Benghazi:
It was really very disappointing because one of the first things that I heard was that the security in Benghazi was limited because of considerations for foreign policy, we didn’t want it to seem like an armed camp, we wanted to regularize our relationship, and these are the same sorts of things I heard in Tehran when we were talking about why our security profile was so low-key there. . . .
You have a tragedy that was in some senses avoidable, but also goes beyond the deaths of these four very brave Americans, it really is a foreign policy failure and so you need to tie the issue of adequate security for the compound to what our foreign policy is and what our foreign policy image is overseas.
Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah is, in my view, the definitive account of the Iranian hostage crisis. In a 2006 piece for The Atlantic, he recounts that Carter initially met the hostage crisis with “restraint,” which eventually began to look like “weakness and indecision.” With the exception of the fact that Carter eventually sent in a Delta Force team to attempt a rescue, the parallels are notable.