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Hostage Hang-Ups

The nation rejoiced when news of the United States government negotiating to release five American prisoners in Iran circulated earlier this month on August 10.

However, more recent news suggests the State Department and the White House may have paid the hostile country of Iran for the American hostages, revealing yet another foreign policy failure for the Biden administration.

On August 25, information about a hostage deal between the United States and Iran was leaked to the public. 

A premature plan detailed the Biden administration intending to pay Iran $6 billion for the American prisoners they agreed upon earlier in the month.

The idea the Biden administration would finally receive praise for a foreign policy success, after the disastrous 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal led to the death of thirteen U.S. service members, was quickly extinguished by the give-in to pay a hostage ransom to Iran.

House Republicans in Congress were the first to condemn the Biden administration for its actions, comparing the Trump administration’s stellar foreign policy achievements to that of the current presidency:

“‘For decades, standing U.S. policy was to refuse ransom payments, a legacy continued by President Trump, who secured the release of two American hostages from Iran without offering a cent of financial relief,’ Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Some, like Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented on how funding a country who hates the United States and Uncle Sam’s allies would only fuel Iran’s aggression:

“Unfreezing $6 billion dollars in Iranian assets dangerously further incentivizes hostage-taking and provides a windfall for regime aggression … The Biden Admin must punish those who use Americans as political pawns and work to end this practice,” according to the Washington Examiner.

The White House quickly scrambled, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassuring the public there is no American taxpayer money involved. The money is supposedly frozen in South Korea, and made up of Korean won.

“Washington in 2018 froze $6 billion from Iran’s sale of oil to South Korea after former President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which had eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for commitments not to develop nuclear weapons,” according to The Hill.

While no American taxpayer money is involved, the Biden administration, once again, neglected to take into account that the country’s image is.

Giving Iran access to the frozen $6 billion is a wrong choice, point blank. Giving a country who is known to use its resources to capture Americans more funds is an even worse choice, or should at least be manipulated for more gain for the United States. 

The Biden administration seems to unevenly weigh how much the U.S. could benefit from hostage dealings, with one recalling how U.S. athlete Brittney Griner was exchanged for the high-ranking Russian prisoner known as the “Merchant of Death,” while U.S. Marine Paul Whelan still sits in a Russian prison.

Amidst the division for the Iranian hostage deal, the U.S. has vowed the funds transferred to Iran will only be used for humanitarian purposes:

“State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said the funds, which will be held in a Qatari bank account for monitoring, will only be used by Iran for humanitarian transactions, such as food and medicine.”

“‘Iran’s accounts in other countries have been used to purchase humanitarian goods and services and to conduct other non-sanctionable transactions,’ Patel said at a Monday press briefing. ‘Any kinds of funds that move will be subject to the same rigorous restrictions once it moves out of South Korea,’” according to The Hill.

One can only hope a hyper-aggressive country will use $6 billion solely for humanitarian related resources instead of dumping the money into its military and carrying on its hatred for the United States.

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