It is the 40th. year anniversary between the U.S. and Iran of a terrible event that changed the world. On November 4, 2019, the 40th. anniversary of Americans seized by Iran was publicized and discussed. Several of the cable channels showed TV clips from 1979. I could not watch the cable coverage because it was too painful for me. I not only remember the incident, but as an American I lived through this terrible incident safely in the U.S. However, I remember it very well.
Jimmy Carter was President of the U.S. when Iran seized 52 American hostages. Muhammad Reza Pahlevi, the Shah of Iran, had been overthrown. I am not going to attempt to review the entire Iranian Hostage situation. That would take about 500 pages and few people would read it. However, I am going to present some facts and then offer an opinion.
The ultimate decision for President Carter involved what he should do after diplomatic negotiations had failed to secure the release of the Americans who were illegally seized by Iran. In my view, Carter did the one thing that a President should not have done. Carter ordered a military rescue mission to free the American hostages in Iran. It was a total disaster and eight U.S. servicemen were killed when a U.S. aircraft and a U.S. helicopter collided. Those servicemen who survived returned home and the remainder of the operation was called off. Sadly, the situation lasted 444 days and only ended when President Reagan was sworn in as President.
In 1979, I had an opinion that I believed should have been followed. After 40 years, my opinion has not changed and I will share it today with some historical facts.
Only one country in the world has ever used nuclear weapons against another country. The U.S. deployed two atomic bombs against Japan. President Truman ordered the deployment of atomic bombs to be used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman’s decision brought World War II to an end.
Since the end of World War II, the ” Old Soviet Union ” and the U.S. built atomic bombs at an astounding pace. By the middle 1950’s, both the Soviet Union and the U.S. each had enough atomic bombs to kill every human being on earth many time over. Yet both countries continued building more atomic bombs using the concept of ” Mutually Insured Destruction ” as a reason.
It is not necessary to go into great details, but the Soviet Union ( now Russia ) and the U.S. continued the production of atomic weapons and developed ever more systems to deliver those weapons. It is estimated that there are about 14,500 nuclear weapons in the world today. Best estimates believe that Russia has about 7,500 warheads and the U.S. has 7,200 warheads. Also, France, China, the U.K., Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea have atomic weapons today. About 94% of all atomic weapons are in the U.S. and Russia. Also, the U.S. and Russia developed nuclear powered submarines. Later the nuclear powered subs were modified to fire nuclear missiles.
During what was often called ” The Cold War, ” people throughout the world were encouraged to believe that a nuclear war was a terrible thing. Indeed, I agree that major nuclear war could destroy our planet.
But is there a converse side to this military situation ? In 1979, when Iran illegally seized our citizens, the U.S. had a plethora of nuclear weapons. We had them with multiple delivery systems. We had nuclear weapons with enormous power. We had nuclear weapons with intermediate power. We had nuclear weapons with smaller power designed to destroy a limited region.
It is my belief now, and it was my belief in 1979, that President Carter should have made one final demand of the regime in Iran after all diplomatic actions had failed. The demand was: ” Let our People go, or face a severe military response. ” If the Iranian leader had refused this just demand, I believe that Carter should have deployed a tactical ( limited ) nuclear response against a military facility in Iran. Then Carter should have repeated his demand to the Iranian leader. Failure to respond by Iran should have been followed by another tactical response against another military facility in Iran. This courageous action, I believe, would have brought our citizens home.
The situation that is often not discussed is when and how our President should deploy a nuclear weapon. The question that is never answered is why the U.S. and Russia have 14,700 warheads between them? But the most serious question that I have never heard rationally discussed is: ” When should a nuclear weapons system be deployed? ” and ” Would the failure to deploy a nuclear system be harmful in the long term to the U.S.? ”
I believe that Carter’s mishandling of the 1979 Iranian situation has made the entire world less safe and has created many of the problems seen in the Middle East today.
R. Van Conoley ( There are individuals in the U.S. who believe that the U.S. should be the policeman for the entire world. These individuals are more than glad to send American forces everywhere in the world. They have little concern for the men and women that will be killed and wounded. They are sometimes called Neocons. Bill Kristol is one typical example of a neocon. Kristol strongly supported the Vietnam War. Yet Kristol, born in 1952, was the correct age to go and fight in that war. Did he? No, but he was glad to send other Americans. )
Editor’s Note 2:( There are a number of articles published on this website that discuss nuclear weapons and related historical events. 1) ” Hiroshima and Nagasaki” was published on 8/9/18; 2) ” Pearl Harbor ” on 12/5/2017; 3) ” Those Who Do Not Learn From History” on 8/7/12; 4) ” The U.S. Is Israel’s Bitch” on 7/26/2015 and 5) The U.S. Is Israel’s Bitch – Part 2 ” on 8/1/2015. To read these and several others simply type ( nuclear weapons ) into the search box on the home page and click go and these articles will appear for you. )