Every time it seems he’s said much, much more than enough, Jimmy Carter is back in the news — this time defending his handling 30 years ago of the Iran hostage crisis. Speaking while on a visit to Thailand, Carter told reporters that when the hostage crisis began in 1979, “My main advisers insisted that I should attack Iran.” Carter says he decided not to risk the loss of life (there’s no reference in this latest story to the American lives lost in the botched rescue attempt he authorized and then aborted).
The result was the gross humilation of the U.S., as the hostage crisis dragged on for 444 days — until Ronald Reagan took office. And from those beginnings on Carter’s watch came an emboldened Islamic Republic of Iran, a terror-based regime which for 30 years has been brutalizing its own people, setting up global networks of terrorist finance, weaponry and murder, and is now closing on the nuclear bomb. How many lives has this cost already? How many more will this cost in times ahead? There may be no way to assign a precise number, but the answer is definitely “many” — including Iranians themselves, among them the five now sentenced to death for their roles in the June pro-democracy demonstrations. As Iran continues to export its message and tactics of terror, possibly soon to be turbo-charged with a nuclear arsenal, the odds keep climbing of devastating tolls to come.
All of which puts me in mind of what might sound like a non sequitur: The weird formulation put forward by the Obama administration about jobs “saved or created” by the titanic stimulus plan. For the U.S. job market, this has proved a bizarre label. Not only has the U.S. economy on balance been shedding jobs since the $787 billion “stimulus” was zapped into being, but news keeps bubbling up that some of the jobs “saved or created” are listed by the administration as located in congressional districts that don’t exist.
Perhaps the “saved or created” label would be better applied to a different arena, one in which government policy right now has a greater probability of “saving and creating” something — though, unfortunately, that “something” happens to be terrorists bent on attacking America. How many terrorists were “saved or created” by the kind of policies Jimmy Carter is defending? How many will be “saved or created” by the current policy of trying to diplomatically coddle Iran out of the nuclear bomb program — and ensuing clout — that its rulers are clearly bent on pursuing? How many terrorists will be “saved or created” by the project of putting (alleged) Sept. 11 self-described mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in lower Manhattan — thus providing him a world stage?
If that sounds macabre, it is nothing compared to the real results of policies which signal that America and its citizens and allies can be threatened, bullied, attacked, held hostage or murdered with relative impunity. Though there’s no reason to expect it anytime soon, it would be a great relief to have the U.S. government turn back over to the marketplace the business of saving or creating jobs, and concentrate instead on policies likely to “save or create” radically fewer terrorists.