Armed Liberal, one of my favorite thinkers among the many, from Winds of Change has a request
Monday night, I'm going to hear Warren Christopher talk about "The Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal: Implications for International Dispute Resolution and Diplomacy"
I may get a chance to chat with him. My impressions of the US response to the Iran hostage crisis are pretty bleak.
So - what should I ask him? What should I read tomorrow?
I would ask him "Do you know who MSG Tim Martin is?"
I do because "Griz" was a Team Sergeant in Okinawa when I was there, not that we were buddies or anything. I was a punk ass cherry and he was one of the most experienced Special Operators around. He was known as "Griz" because he was on Operation Eagle Claw, the too little, too late attempt to rescue the hostages Iran held after capturing the US Embassy in Iran in 1979. Jimmy Carter allowed this invasion of sovereign territory and subsequent hostage crisis to go on for 6 months and then instead of a bold plan involving paratroopers taking the airport in Tehran to support a Spec Ops raid, we tried a Hail Mary plan involving convoys of helicopters poorly suited to desert travel. This also required multiple refuelings and landing at a staging point inside Iran to have them scramble around before heading on to the actual target.
The military had plenty of other options, but resistance from Mr. Christopher's State Dept. took all the more direct and forceful plans off the table. Their faith in diplomacy led to the crisis stretching 6 months while America looked helpless to the world, our territory invaded, our people held hostage. Then when they decide to take action the State Dept's need to make sure we don't anger anyone overcame the military reality. This called for Rangers on the airfield and a bunch of helos hitting the Embassy with exfil via the airport. Instead the best Spec Ops troops we had at the time took the only military option Carter and his diplomats would allow and gave it a helluva go.
Unfortunately things went to hell in the desert and when a helo hit a C-130, "Griz" got a wicked burn on his face, hence the nickname, and 8 others were killed. Ask Warren Christopher if he thinks it was wise to hamstring this operation and allow this crisis to eventually stretch out to 444 days. His bio on Wikipedia says this.
Christopher was sworn in on February 26, 1977, as the Deputy Secretary of State and served in that position until January 20, 1981. As Deputy Secretary, he is credited with skillfully negotiating the release of 52 American hostages in Iran
444 days later, 8 of our finest dead, American power around the world self-emasculated, is skillfully? MY ASS!
Sadly this was not Tim's last chance to be poorly served by Mr. Christopher's diplomatic failings. He was back with Delta for Christopher's tenure as WJB Clinton's Secretary of State and a member of the contingent memorialized in Black Hawk Down.
This time "Griz' didn't make it, neither did 18 others. The commanders on the ground had been asking for armor because their canvas-covered trucks and humvees were extremely vulnerable to ambush in the narrow streets of Mogadishu. This very scenario played out as MSG Martin was killed by an RPG while attempting to reinforce the Rangers in a convoy of thin-skinned vehicles with no fire support.
So given the chance, I think you should ask Mr. Christopher if he still believes that making diplomacy so pre-eminent and forcing our military to fight with one hand tied behind it's back is a good idea. Since he wants to talk Iran, you could follow up with his thoughts on the current Iran crisis. Does he think we should keep sipping tea and conducting formalized lying in formal wear, while the Iranians continue to laugh at our weakness and their nuke program steams ahead? Should we keep negotiating with people who have not lived up to any agreement they have ever made about their nuke program? Should we extend this dance until it's too late and then send in a half-assed, hamstrung, military response? Should we continually kow tow to the whims of the so-called Arab street which, near as I can tell, has hated us pretty consistently for my four decades on this planet?
Ya' know screw all that, I know what he would say and his answers would be a waste of oxygen.
Just ask him if he knows who MSG Tim Martin is.
UPDATE: It's been too many moons since I read Charlie Beckwith's "Delta Force". Reader Mario Mirarchi points out another glaring example of Christopher's naivete.
Read Charlie Beckwith's book Delta Force for a description of Christopher's contributions to Operation Eagle Claw. As Beckwith is briefing the NSC, Christopher expresses his horror that Delta plans on actually killing the hostage takers, and he asks Beckwith why don't they shoot them in the shoulder instead.