Joe Biden Strengthens the Iranian Dictatorship

President Joe Biden’s approval of a $6 billion payment to the Iranian dictatorship in return for the release of five American hostages is a disaster.

by Newt Gingrich

President Joe Biden’s approval of a $6 billion payment to the Iranian dictatorship in return for the release of five American hostages is a disaster.

Of course, it is good for the hostages and their families. But the immediate benefit to Iran – and the signal the exchange sends terrorists and other dictatorships – could be devastating many more families in the near future.

How many of our adversaries around the world are going to take note of the Biden administration’s weakness and decide they, too, can make money by kidnapping Americans?

How much more dangerous has the world become for American diplomats, tourists, and businesspeople now that the Biden administration has combined the white flag of surrender with a $6 billion tribute?

We must be honest about how the Iranian dictatorship will spend the money. It will enhance its support of international terrorism, strengthen its nuclear weapons program, accelerate its missile development projects, and bolster its conventional military.

None of this is good for America or our allies.

Remember that Iran has not moderated its behavior. In fact, it has become more aggressive and confrontational.

As Jon Gambrell wrote earlier this month, “Thousands of Marines backed by advanced U.S. fighter jets and warships are slowly building up a presence in the Persian Gulf. It’s a sign that while America’s wars in the region may be finished, its conflict with Iran over its advancing nuclear program continues to worsen, with no solutions in sight.”

Gambrel rightly pointed out that U.S. military leaders would much rather focus resources on Russia or China, but Iran’s behavior required the buildup.

“Now, America will have part of a Marine expeditionary unit in the region for the first time in nearly two years…. on a mission the Pentagon described as being ‘in response to recent attempts by Iran to threaten the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and its surrounding waters,’” Gambrel wrote.

So, the American military is worried enough about the Iranian dictatorship to be strengthening our presence in the Persian Gulf and the region. Meanwhile, in an example of confusion and incompetence, the Biden administration greenlit $6 billion for the Iranians to increase and expand their hostilities.

The American taxpayers must now pay more to project military power to contain the aggressive dictatorship – which our own government is supporting.

Because the is money is coming from South Korea and Iraq with Biden’s approval, the Republican-led Congress can’t stop the transfer. It is not directly American money, so Congress’s hands are tied.

The Iranians reportedly also get a number of people returned to them. Who these Iranians are – and why they were being held – is not clear. The apparent Iranian personnel release is secret and was only leaked by an anonymous source.

The argument that our concern for the hostages and their families should lead us to be charitable about this $6 billion transfer is also nonsense. If we are concerned about hostages and their families, we should not adopt policies which will likely encourage more American hostage-taking.

We have a clear history under President Donald Trump of successfully liberating hostages without paying their captors – including hostages held by Iran.

President Trump celebrated his hostage release achievements with a video in 2020. His administration had negotiated the release of more than 50 Americans from more than 20 countries.

Ambassador Robert O’Brien, as Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, was relentless in working to bring Americans home without rewarding the hostage takers. I got to know him when he worked with my wife Callista, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, and was deeply concerned about hostages around the world and sought to get the Catholic Church more actively engaged in helping release them.

I knew from talking with O’Brien and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose amazing work in North Korea got Americans released from captivity, that President Trump was deeply committed to helping American families and hostages. He insisted on patient diplomacy and firm pressure rather than paying off the kidnappers.

Even CNN National Security Editor Peter Bergen acknowledged in April 2019, “While Trump doesn’t seem to have been personally involved in these negotiations, he is ultimately responsible for the successes and failures on his watch. Certainly, when it comes to freeing American hostages, the Trump administration has a good story to tell.”

So, the choice is not to help or abandon American hostages.

The choice is between using strength and strategy to safely bring Americans home – or to pay off our enemies and make the world more dangerous.

It is clear which choice is better for America.

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