The Iranian Hostage Crisis: 34 Years Later

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


13920813144849231468654As the Obama administration stays determined to push for domestic and foreign policies that would prevent further pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, attempting to diplomatically and pleasantly reach out to the Islamists in Iran, just this week Islamist Iranian leaders responded to Obama’s outreach and foreign policies with a robust reaffirmation of their antagonism towards the United States and Israel.

This Monday marked the 34th anniversary of the American Embassy takeover in Iran, which led to 52 Americans being held hostage for several months in Tehran during the Carter administration. Contrary to what many liberal policy analysts in the Obama administration thought, and despite their recent portrayal of the constructive ties between the Islamists in Iran and United States, several powerful political Iranian institutions called for one of the biggest rallies this week.

Tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators packed the streets outside the former US embassy in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands also demonstrated against Israel and the US in various cities across the country. This call to rally against the United States and Israel created one of the most unprecedented demonstrations in size and scope. Many Western and Eastern media outlets reported that these gatherings were the biggest anti-US and anti-Israel rally in years. Even according to Iran’s official media, millions of people participated in the protests around the country, resulting in the largest anti-US and anti-Israel demonstration turnout in years.

Additionally, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran declared November 4th as the “National Day against Global Arrogance.” While this week, tens of thousands of Iranians shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” The burning of American and Israeli flags took place throughout Iranian cities. Furthermore, effigies of US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and US Secretary of State John Kerry were held up high by protestors.

The more the Obama administration pushes for a weakening of policies towards Iran — such as compromising and calling the ruling party “moderate” — the more the Islamic Republic of Iran is sending formidable signs to the United States that it will not put away its antagonizing policies towards the United States.

For 34 years, the United States and the international community have tried—through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral talks, diplomatic initiatives, and later through sanctions, political, and economic pressure— to persuade the leaders of the Islamist state of Iran to change their extremist domestic and foreign policies, and to respect the modern standards of the international community, the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, Amnesty International, and other human rights watch groups.

None of these political and diplomatic approaches have yielded a positive result. Not only have extremist Iranian leaders not scaled down their aggressive foreign policy and their support for terrorist proxies, but they have also increased their domestic repression, human rights abuses, imprisonment and execution of political and human rights activists, along with their persecution of Christians, Jews, and Baha’is.

After all the efforts undertaken by the international community, the Obama administration is, in a sense, restarting its foreign policy from a clean slate. President Obama is attempting to use pleasant diplomatic language with Iranian leaders to ease sanctions on the nation. According to Iranian media, Eastern mainstream news, and some Western outlets, President Obama has repeatedly and desperately begged President Rouhani to speak with him on the phone.

In the arena of international politics taking such initiatives a crucial issue arises, President Obama is significantly weakening the geopolitical position of the United States and emboldening the power of the hardliners and extremists in Iran.

Recently, one of the most powerful military and ideologically hardlined institutions in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) stated on the Persian Sepah News website, that the slogan “Death to America” was a sign, and manifestation, of the Iranian people’s will, determination, and robust resistance against “the dominance of oppressive and untrustworthy America.” Hardliners even announced a few days before the protests that they composed several new anti-American Islamist songs to be played next to the American embassy.

Additionally, during the opening session of Iran’s parliament (Majlis), all members of the Majlis joined the hardliners’ call, stating that they will proudly carry the slogan “Death to America.”

Beside all these foreign policy gaffs, the Obama administration is currently pushing to invite Iran to the Geneva II conference. Kerry has repeatedly called to engage Iran in the upcoming Geneva Conference.

The matter of fact is that the key political institutions of Iran- such as the IRGC, the paramilitary Basij militia, the ministry of intelligence and security, the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution (which owns and manages approximately 350 subsidiary and affiliate companies in fields including industry, transportation, commerce, agriculture, and tourism), the Supreme National Security Council, the army, and the Expediency Council- have made it clear that their antagonism towards the United States and Israel is an unalterable part of their policies. The reason that these institutions exist is based on their fundamental ideology to act against Washington and Tel Aviv. Their existence, and Islamic legitimacy, will be endangered if they change this fundamental Islamic ideology.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • http://fdnyretiree.com/ Ed FDNYRetiree

    The election of a liberal left wing president and a failure to nuke Iran then, led to the election of a progressive-socialist-Marxist president now, and may lead to Iran or a proxy nuking US, now.

    It’s still not too late to act.

    • Ahmad

      ….And Americans are so innocone my Allah.

      • Drakken

        Compared to you rag heads, yes.

  • Ahmad

    ….And Americans are so innocent, my Allah…

    • John

      Is that a statement or sarcasm?

  • knowshistory

    “we will do anything you want, if you return the hostages alive”–jimmy carter,
    exposing his cards before bluffing in a high stakes poker game.
    “islam is a great religion of peace”—archfool gw bush, submitting to islam after the religion of peace committed an unmistakable act of war against our citizens.
    “when political winds blow in an ugly direction, I will stand with the muslims”–barack Hussein Obama, BEFORE we elected him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    we could not have known what a pushover jimmuh would be for the enemies of America, both foreign and domestic. we did not know what a fool bush would be. we DID know that barack h Obama was an enemy sympathizer at best, and more likely just an enemy of our country. and we elected him. shame on us.

    • Muhammad

      Only Barack….perfect

  • PhillipGaley

    The ancient model would achieve a worthwhile result–dominance, military dominance and rule in the Civil law, . . . Iran would be civilized, . . . period.

    • Mike

      What do you mean ancient?

      • PhillipGaley

        While “ancient” is of course, a relative indicator, the further back in time you go, the less likely you are to find attempts in the “John Kennedy”, “Jimmuh Carter”, “John Kerry” style of reliance upon myopic, weak-kneed vacillation and, unsupported and unsupportable bluff.

        An Australian Commander went to the Buin leaders; he bought a pig; he shot the pig; the pig flopped down dead; he communicated to the Buin leaders that, if there was any more eating of each other, he would effect the fate of the pig upon them; and, that was the end of cannibalism in New Guinea.

        The Roman model in a firm hand worked and was supported by the conquered peoples because everyone was then able to concentrate his mind and efforts upon increase of personal wealth, and world-wide wealth increased.

        The ancient conquerors would never for an instant think to rely upon the notion of these N. Koreans, nor these Iranians nor these Argentinians–and so forth–as in any wise possible to be dealt with as equals.

        • Drakken

          I have always said that we ignore ancient precedent at our own peril. I am a firm believer of you get to keep what you kill.

          • PhillipGaley

            It’s not nearly so much killing and keeping, but, G0D gave us to use the lower animal kingdom for our maintenance, As today, the ancient Roman conquerors took what they wanted, . . . no doubt there was abuse, but still and all, the world move forward and upward in status of life.

            In wisdom, G0D put the nations in competition so that, mankind might make use of best opportunities to advance. The USA is under the curse of neglected duty in ordering and guiding the lesser peoples and nations, our foolish leaders(?) preferring to coddle them along in notions of equality, . . .

  • Omar

    And our patriotic slogan shall be “Death to Islamic Iran!”, “Death to so-called “Palestine!” and “Death to Radical Islam!” We Americans must fight fire with fire to respond to our enemies. We will be victorious in the campaign against totalitarianism. We must win.

    • Mahmoud

      US does not say Death to… > It just bombs

      • Omar

        America mainly attacks in self-defense and in retaliation of unprovoked attacks from its totalitarian enemies. All of America’s enemies are morally sick. That’s the reality.

      • Notalibfool

        “It just bombs”

        So has Iran. Tell us about the 1994 attack on the AMIA building in Buenos Aires.

  • Erudite Mavin

    I remember the take over of the American Embassy and the capture of
    52 Americans. held captive over a year.
    Another one of Democrat Carter’s results of assisting the shoving out of the Shah
    and the take over of Iran by the Radical Muslims, something we and the rest of
    the world are still paying for today by wars fueled and armed by Iran.