Friday, January 21, 2005

History Friday... On A Saturday

Seeing as Iran is in the news (damn, I wish I had written my long-threatened "great game" analysis* BEFORE Seymour Hirsh published his revelations about planning for offensive operations against the nuclear mullahs) this week's History Friday casts its beady eye at the conclusion of the second of four defining processes of our current imprisonment in the concrete overshoes of the Mid East (the other three being the Six Day War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and our reaction to the OPEC embargo after the Yom Kippur war that saw us take a renewed interest in keeping the oil suppliers friendly). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the:

End of the Iranian Embassy Hostage Crisis

As the BBC reported:
January 21, 1981: Tehran frees US hostages after 444 days
The 52 American hostages held at the US embassy in Tehran for more than 14 months have arrived in West Germany on their way home to the United States.
The former diplomats and embassy staff stepped from the plane onto the tarmac at Wiesbaden airport looking tired but elated after their 4,000-mile (6,437km) flight from Iran.

Some waved to the crowd of well-wishers who had gathered, others gave the V-for-victory sign.

Iran finally agreed to release the hostages after the US said it would release assets frozen in American and other banks, including the Bank of England, since the embassy was seized.

Tying in with one of my recent bugbears the hostage crisis marked, if not the first use then the widespread adoption of the yellow ribbon as the badge of recognition of Americans detained overseas. I believe its meaning was transformed to recognize overseas military deployments with the first Gulf War, and has reached epidemic proportions since 9/11.

* This is my theory: one of the lesser objectives, happy coincidences, or strategic opportunities that arose from US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq is that the true and long held Mid East enemy #1, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is now wedged uncomfortably between two potential US client states. Remember, we felt Iran was a sufficient threat to arm Saddam for a decade. Indeed, from a military strategic standpoint and a "War on Terror" perspective Iran made a better target than Iraq in 2003.

From a neo-con perspective, this presents the US with a mixed bag of opportunities and problems. As the nut between the crackers, Iran might succumb to a popular, anti-fundamentalist revolt (although speaking personally I feel it cannot be stated loudly enough that Iranian reform movements should not be confused with pro-US elements; they might like us as people and might like coca cola but they don't care for the US government and they remember the Shah), it might become ripe for plucking by US military assault (this remember is what I posit as US policy in the early days of Iraq, not in the overstretched nightmare it has become), or it might be vunerable to an Afghanistan style operation with local forces and Special Ops troops quickly toppling the mullahs (although I think you would have to use a mixed Iraqi/Us force from the west and a mixed Afghan/US force from the East as there seems to be little evidence of an exile army in waiting- perhaps Iranian Kurds?) Problems include the rapid drive towards nukes (probably sped up by the same realizations I'm noting here), the loose cannons of Iranian sponsored terror elements (Hizbollah, etc) outside its borders, and alienation of Iraq's restive Shia population.

So that's my long held theory. I really am wasted in the field of adolecent development....

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