On this day thirty years ago, Inauguration Day of President Ronald Reagan, the Iran hostage crisis, which destroyed any hope of President Jimmy Carter to win re-election, came to an end.
The nation was kept literally captive for 444 days from November 4, 1979 onward, as we all worried about the safety and survival of the 52 Americans held hostage at US Embassy in Teheran.
We were gripped by this crisis, and it became the constant news story for all of 1980, an obsession we could not overcome.
It created fame for Ted Koppel of ABC News, who originally covered the crisis day by day at 1135PM weekday evenings, and then expanded the news coverage at that odd hour to create Nightline, which he anchored for 26 years!
Iran became the biggest foreign policy headache of the United States, and in many ways, remains that 32 years later!
We basically were unable to resolve the issue satisfactorily as a great power, and yet Iran has continued to tie us in knots, and we still cannot figure out how to deal with the threat of this Islamic terrorist nation which has complicated our lives more than any other nation in the past three decades!
With the Soviet Union, as evil as they were, reason and measured response could work, and the Soviets had their limits.
Unfortunately, with the combination of Islamic extremism and resentment at US support in the past for the Shah of Iran, there is a concern that the Iranians today have no limits and might be ready to sacrifice themselves rather than cave in or concede in any way to the United States or other Western nations.
And by this nation getting deeply involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, ironically, Iran has become emboldened and stronger than ever before, and they clearly have no intention of compromise or concession, while the old Soviet Union was willing over time to make agreements and concession.
So in this second decade of the 21st century, Iran remains the center of strategic planning, intelligence estimates, and sleepless nights for many in the American diplomatic and military community! 🙁