By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.
As always, we must continue to pray for President Obama as he leads our nation. He still has time to make a positive impact to what we are seeing.
I was recently hit with the news of the release of several American prisoners from Iran. Great relief immediately filled me by seeing one of the named individuals being Pastor Saeed Abedini. We Christians have been praying fervently for Pastor Abedini’s release for years after he was unjustly detained in Iran due to the draconian anti-religious-freedom laws the Islamist state of Iran enforces. Other than Abedini, who now awaits to rejoin his wife and children, Iran released other American prisoners. They are former US Marine Amir Hekmati, student Matthew Trevithick, a mysterious person named Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, and Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian.
According to our American customs and even international customs, all of these men were detained without being proven guilty of any justifiable crime (so far as the American public knows). We must remember that.
Though I felt relief at the news, I had reason to be concerned far more than I had reason to be jubilated. Now, I have just admitted to imploring to God for years on behalf of Pastor Abedini, and my prayers for the people of Iran have not gone wanting even as knowledge of the intricacies of Iranian civility and religiosity become more apparent to me. I am happy that my fellow countrymen and my brother in Christ are liberated from Iran’s totalitarian hold, a hold unjustly brought upon them. But, I also know of the disastrous nuclear deal that we recently made with the nation of Iran, a nation that every year has an official holiday during which they mandate citizens to celebrate with the Iranian government the approaching death of the United States of America and the coming Iranian destruction of the nation of Israel. These celebrations continued even as we continued diplomatic talks that led to the nuclear deal. When I say “What the crud,” I really mean, “What the crud?”
Even so, Iran also detained several American sailors just before the release of these prisoners. Notice how this latest turn of events factored in the State of the Union speech– it didn’t. This entire chain of events should be alarming to us if only for the lopsided prisoner exchange that we as a nation undertook in order to free our fellow countrymen. Remember, as far as international law and our national law goes, these men released back to us were innocent. What about the Iranian prisoners who we in turn released back to freedom? These men were in one way or another found guilty of violating our then established national sanctions against Iran. In other words, the majority of our prisoners were American citizens imprisoned for engaging in business deals of some kind with Iran while the United States government imposed business sanctions upon Iran. Why did we have the sanctions? Because, as is obvious from our formerly detained countrymen and the Quds Day celebration that Iran annually has, Iran is run by a very religiously intolerant government that violates international human rights policies. That’s why. Iran hasn’t been a very big tourist destination to many of us for a reason. We haven’t heard much good report coming out from the Iranian government in decades, for a reason.
Now, there has been talk that several of the prisoners we released were unjustly tried and convicted in very botched federal lawsuits. But, these were federal lawsuits, most of which occurred during the Obama Administration. I leave you to your own convictions about that.
And this also comes as an alarm for one last reason: the disaffection of our military toward our current political leaders. No, I’m not talking about Gen. Petraeus’ marital scandal that many of us have forgotten about (and which to me received far more airtime than necessary). I’m talking about the current dissatisfaction from the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the POTUS said that we are the strongest military nation in the world during his State of the Union Address. I’m talking about the recent outbreak of unabashed criticism that former military operators from some of our higher tactical echelons voiced in rightly critiquing our current leaders for twisting the facts.
I’m talking about the distrust over what really happened in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 by American soldiers who were in the fight.
I’m also talking about the oddity of gender revolutionary treatment in the United States Armed Forces even while physical requirements are threatened to be dumbed down in order to compensate for women. I mean, this isn’t the NFL; this isn’t the NBA; this isn’t even the UFC. This is warfare, bloodletting, mortal combat. How is it that we refuse to stomach a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker tackling a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, but we are perfectly okay with sending thousands of women into the same mortal conditions that we send our toughest men?
I don’t know what you think, but if I were the President, no matter how successful I really am, when my A-team for my military (the Joint Chiefs of Staff) doesn’t even react when I say to them in front of the world that they command the strongest military in the world, then something is wrong. When soldiers who have served under my administration unabashedly make statements contrary to my policies and distrustful to my leadership in front of not only their military colleagues but the mainstream citizen world, then I have leadership issues. When I am too busy giving concessions to a government that came to power expressively upon anti-Western sentiments (not principally due to CIA treachery but for religious reasons) and that is accused of funding the majority of Islamist terrorism in their region of the world, then I have an international problem. Especially when I claim to lead a world superpower. Really, what message does it send to rogue states and other draconian governments that are enemies of the Western world when I, the leader of the Western world, concede to a nuclear deal and make a lopsided prisoner exchange with a nation that doesn’t even respect my nation’s sovereignty for defense or my ally’s sovereignty to exist (referring to Israel, the only Western nation in the Levant)? This is a dangerous game of chess, and for anyone who knows how to play chess, the first game that is lost before the checkmate is the game of chicken.
What we may have just witnessed, and may continue to witness, is the groaning of a superpower before it concedes its elevated “superpower” chair in domestic and foreign relations. What we otherwise might be witnessing, if not that, are the first signs that that concession may have already happened.