Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Iranian Ransom Payment

You all know that the US paid $400M in cash to Iran in what was clearly a ransom payment for the release of the two captured boat crews, recently.  It now comes to light that an additional $1.3 billion (billion with a “b”) was also paid in cash to bring the total recent payments to $1.7B. (1)

The administration has come up with all kinds of stories about these payments in an attempt to portray them as normal business dealings (with Iran??) and whatnot.  Since they could have been paid at any time over the last decade or so, the timing pretty cleary demonstrates that they were ransom payments for the release of the boat crews.

The funds came from a Treasury Department slush fund known as the Judgment Fund.  Use of these funds allowed the President to bypass Congressional approval.

On a seemingly unrelated note, the Navy is reporting on a near daily basis that Iranian vessels are harassing US warships on an increasingly aggressive basis.  A recent example is the report that three US ships were harassed in a single day.

“Three more U.S. ships were harassed by Iranian patrol boats over three incidents on Wednesday, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban told USNI News on Thursday.” (2)

So, setting aside geopolitical questions about dealings with Iran, my question to all those advocates of a policy of restraint out there is, how’s that appeasement working out?

We’re not getting much for our ransom payment are we?  Appeasement is not working any better for us than it did for Neville Chamberlain.  History is pretty clear about the outcome of appeasement.


(2)USNI News website, “Three More U.S. Navy Ships Harassed By Iranian Patrol Boats”, Sam LaGrone, 25-Aug-2016,


  1. You should mention that all this money belonged to Iran and was seized by the US government years ago when bank accounts were frozen after Shah was thrown out. Obama is trying to avoid friction with Iran so it doesn't become a Russian ally, as seen a couple weeks ago when Russian bombers flew from an Iranian base to hit targets in Syria. A Russian, Syrian, Iranian and now maybe Turkish alliance would be powerful.

    1. That may or may not be. The legalities are well beyond me. The pertinent point is that the timing of the payment makes it clearly a ransom.

      As I said in the post, if was a simple business settlement, it could have been paid any time in last decade or so and yet it was made immediately after the release of the crews and on the same day that Iran released four American prisoners. Seems pretty clear what happened.

      And now I'll repeat my post question. How's that appeasement working out?

    2. Only 400mil was Iranian money paid by the Shahs gov. The rest was interest they were claiming. By your logic when is the Iranians going to compensate the US for all the assets including the embassy that the Mullahs seized? Or how about the judgements that the courts ruled should be paid to american victims of Iranian sponsored terror?

      Iran was owed nothing we couldn't claim times ten. The Iran deal was nothing but a sham, as the Iranian leaders have said the US gave them all their demands. Hell the full failure is not even fully known yet but as it leaks it just gets worse, those enriched uranium restrictions well there was a special exemption for that to because well even though the paper said one thing Iran refused so they just made a secret exemption so they didn't have to comply.

      In the end when all is told and revealed it will be known how a US pres signed a agreement were we paid billions, destroyed decades of sanctions work, surrendered all our demands. In return we get a piece of paper that could be played up for short term political purposes.

      Sad in itself and the fact Iran continues to disrespect them before, during, after implementation is not surprising at all. Why not kidnap US military men humiliate them then humiliate their leaders gov by forcing them to pay what even if isn't has the optics of ransom cash on pallets. Pitiful by all standards.

      It would have been much better to just let the sanctions grind and do nothing but hold the containment. We would have the same return but with less cost and a weaker more drained enemy.

      I fear that before the election Iran is going either attempt to seize or attack one of our ships transiting. If Iran has proven anything weakness begets aggression and they are only embolden by to humiliate the US via humiliation of whimpers like Carter or todays O.

      Funny if all this stuff was OK or impressive or justified it wouldn't have been secret hidden from public knowledge. That is called intent.

  2. It is dangerous to ignore history on Iran. These events are not isolated, they are a very unfortunate continuation of bad decisions on both sides.

    The counter question to you CNO is how'd that intervention work for us 60 years ago?

    Do the names Roosevelt and Schwarzkopf mean anything to you? SAVAK and the Ayatollah probably would not exist if not for our mucking around (and letting Britain muck around) with Mossadegh's government.

    I don't like the Gov of Iran, it is dangerous, a bully, and looking to get an image for itself. However, the solution is to reach the Iranian people and get them to change their Government. Notice I said reach and not help to overthrow their Government.

    So far I have seen no one offer a way to do that. And before I support another village idiot in spending $5T and hundreds of thousands of lives without a plan to work with a people and not just throw our weight around, then negotiating is not a bad idea in my book.

    1. You have no answer to my question so I'll assume your answer is that appeasement has failed miserably. I'll say the same about intervention. It has failed miserably going back a thousand years. That leaves us to decide what to do today that's different. The only workable approach I can see is imposed isolation. Somewhat similar to sanctions except that it would be a militarily imposed quarantine. Nothing gets in or out. Within this context, Iran would be left alone to do as they pleased. They can die, overthrow their government, band together and work for their common good, attempt to launch a war, or whatever other behavior they wish. If and when they reach a point where they decide to join the rest of the world as civilized, peaceful, and respectful neighbors, then we can let them out. Essentially, when they grow up they can come join the adults. Until then, they stay safely tucked away in their playpen, unable to harm others. This is not a geopolitical blog so I'm not going to address this aspect any further.

      My immediate concern is our policy of appeasement that is emboldening Iran and will certainly result in another attempted seizure of a US ship in the near future. We must recognize that situation is in the process of occurring and immediately begin preparing our response. That response may be to have lifeboats deployed so that we can quickly abandon ship when ordered or it may be to have weapons manned and ready so that we can put a permanent stop to the harassment. Whatever our desired response, now is the time to think it through and prepare. This is a naval matter that our leadership needs to address now.

    2. What exactly has Iran done to the US that merits a quarantine until they become civilized?

      The 440 day hostage situation is over.

      Supporting Hezbollah? Providing IEDs to the Iraqis? Said they want to develop Nuclear energy and probably weapons? Have they hit a US ship with 2 Exocets? Have they laid mines that struck our ships? Have they closed the Gulf?

      Many other countries have done these items and much worse and we are not advocating quarantine of them. Harbor terrorist that crashed airplanes into US buildings? Because their leader is an extremist religious zealot that tolerates no dissent?

      Again I do not like the Present Iranian regime. However you are advocating a path to war against one country for not very clear reasons. Does the present regime need reminding that they exist in a larger world? Yes. War against a country that can't even produce its own gasoline? No Should the US Navy and the World exercise rights I the Gulf - YES even to the point of colliding and shooting at harassing vessels.

      Telling a sovereign nation that they have to become civilized (after we overthrow their elected government) is not the way to get them to change their behavior. That is all I am saying.

      Otherwise what is next? Quarantine of Venezuela? Most of the Continent of Africa? China? Russia?

      How about we actually talk to the Iranians instead of telling them what to do? They haven't occupied any countries that I know of so the analogy to Chamberlin is a little premature and I hope we can avoid a path to war.

    3. There is a flaw in modern geopolitical thinking and that is that the US is no better than any other country. Well, that's false. We not only are better, in every way, but we are the only hope for the world in the long run. It is our duty, just as it is for parents, to discipline other countries if they do not act in a civilized manner.

      Iran actively supports terrorism. That alone is justification enough to isolate them. Note, since you missed it in the previous comment, that I'm not saying declare war on Iran. I'm saying isolate them with military force. They'll be contained within their borders and left unharmed unless they opt to fight. Their choice.

      The litany of reasons to isolate them is long and I won't bother citing them.

      And, yes, if other countries fail to act in a civilized manner then the same treatment would be appropriate.

      I mention this particular option because of its military aspects which are pertinent to this blog.

      However, this is not a geopolitical blog so I'm not going to allow any further discussion of this. Don't bother replying, I'll delete it unless it deals with the specifics of the post. There are many geopolitical blogs you can join to have this discussion.

  3. At about the same time, we were finalizing the nuclear deal with Iran. I have to wonder if settling this issue then was part of this deal.

    1. "Since they could have been paid at any time over the last decade or so, the timing pretty cleary demonstrates that they were ransom payments for the release of the boat crews."

      The US has had sanctions of varying kinds against Iran, indeed the first came from President Carter after the embassy was seized. These have been increased since that time for obvious reasons. Since the US wants other countries to follow suit how could they have possibly have made a 'payment over the last decade' especially since they have in more recent years had full UN backing

  4. If U.S. Presidents are going to order the U.S. military to operate in the Persian Gulf, what the current situation needs is a President who like Reagan orders the Navy and Air Force to respond with force against Iranian harassment and put Iran in their place.

    However, the current President is far too weak, far too fearfully interested in maintaining the fiction of having prevented the Iranians from building nuclear weapons. He, and his team including the inept Kerry have no idea how to negotiate, no idea how much they can apply forceful pressure on the Iranians – who will back down in the face of a tough response. The Iranians have merely put their nuclear program on hold until they can rebuild their economy and trade relationships. The latter have priority and the odds of them risking that development (which is going quite well) is rather little. Obama does not grasp that fact. Thus, he and his advisors and Department Heads shrink before the Iranians.

    The Generals and Admirals go along with him, i.e. don’t tender their resignations because they are generally political hacks who prefer what they think is the prestige of position and the benefits that come from it. The ones who stand up are isolate and then gone like retired General Flynn. It isn’t something new – read if one wants McMasters’ "Dereliction of Duty" about the miserable performance of the Flags and Generals during Vietnam. He initially wrote it as his PhD dissertation, and then put it into book form, while on Active Duty.

    The Flags and Generals should tell Obama & that low life Kerry (despised by the Navy Officer Corps of my generation) & Carter they are going to beef up the number of ships and Patrol Craft in and around the Persian Gulf, they are going to order the Boats to proceed in groups of three, they will have standoff fighter coverage, and the will set up command centers that control all U.S. aircraft and ships / boats in the Gulf requiring constant verified communication. If Obama and Carter doesn’t have that courage they should request retirement, but they won’t.

    The U.S. should accordingly set up Rules of Engagement requiring Iranian Patrol and other craft be sunk if they threaten our patrol craft or come within some designated number of feet of our ships or boats. They should also advise the Iranians that their military aircraft will be shot down if they venture out over the Gulf. Further, they should in conjunction with Saudi Arabia and the supported government in Yemen order a blockade of that land and have the Air Wings from two Aircraft Carriers begin an intensive air campaign against the side supported by the Iranians -- and keep the press out of the area. The appropriate notice to shipping should go out advising them If they come within 12 miles of the coast of Yemen they will be stopped and boarded. If they resist they will be sunk.

    We should call the Iranian bluff – the Saudis and the Gulf States will support that effort. They are far more concerned with the advancement of Iran into their region than they are about ISIS – which they realize is a nuisance but not an existential threat to their survival. In fact, ISIS serves a strategic purpose for them – it is fighting the Iranian / Arab Shiite Alliance forces and they will eventually both bleed themselves out. The Iranian / Shiite advance into the Arabian Peninsula do threaten Sunni continued political existence. They are s strategically smarter than are Americans. We do not grasp the reality of that area.

    But, under this President this is a windmill that will remain standing. Cervantes would be happy to know he still receive notoriety. Interesting which tales of old survive and in political form. Under a President Clinton or Trump – who knows?


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 30 days in order to reduce spam.