Paying ransom harmful
President Barack Obama is notorious for using executive orders and other unilateral actions to override existing U.S. policy.
Now that penchant for imperial rule is coming back to haunt Americans.
Several months ago, Iran released four Americans who had been held in captivity — but only after the U.S. government paid Tehran $400 million. Another $900 million in payments followed.
Critics worried the payments would spur Iran, along with terrorist organizations, to demand money for more Americans held captive.
They were right. Iranian leaders reportedly are demanding more money to release two other Americans.
For decades, U.S. policy has been to refuse to pay for release of Americans held captive in other countries. Beyond any doubt, giving in to kidnappers’ demands merely encourages them and others to take more captives.
Like so many of his foreign policy initiatives, this one by Obama will make it much more difficult for his successor to handle diplomacy and national security.
One aspect of the situation has not been reported, to our knowledge. It is that in abandoning the policy of not paying ransom, Obama was disobeying one of his own executive orders.
Executive Order No. 13698, issued in June 2015, states, in part, “The United States is committed to securing the safe recovery of U.S. nationals held hostage abroad and deterring future hostage-takings by denying hostage-takers any benefits from their actions.”
Even Obama’s rules are made to be broken, it seems — as long as Obama is doing the breaking.