TCS Daily – Twin Anniversaries (Reagan and Iran Hostages)

My lastest piece for TCS Daily, “Twin Anniversaries, ” is posted. It begins,

At noon on January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as President of the United States. Minutes later, the remaining hostages who had been held captive for 444 days at the American embassy in Teheran were freed.

The Iran hostage crisis, which began on November 4, 1979, gripped the nation. Our impotency in the face of some thugs in a Third World country symbolized the decline of America. During the previous decade, we had been defeated in our longest war, gone through two energy crises, seen our economy tumble to its post-Depression worst, and lost all trust in our political institutions.

That all changed in that one hour.

See the rest at the link.

Update: The Officers’ Club reflects on the Iran Hostage anniversary.

Most of the other coverage in the Blogosphere is on Reagan.

  • The Key Monk: “President Reagan acted as both a moral voice and the sword-arm of freedom. “
  • Larry Kudlow: “The Gipper would be pleased to know that the ‘shining city upon the hill’ that he often referred to is still shining brightly.”
  • Jonathan Wilson: “Reaganomics . . . has not yet carried the day in the judiciary.”
  • Tom Blumer asks, “Are we better off than we were 25 years ago?”
  • Rightwingsparkle: “He believed in what we desired, but thought impossible, and he made it happen.”
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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. spencer says:

    This has to open the idea that Reagan was dealing with the enemy behind the Presidents back to influence the election.

    Do you consider that a high probability and if a Democrat had done the same thing would you call it traitorous?

  2. James Joyner says:

    The negotiations were handled by the Carter team. The Iranians released the hostages on Reagan’s watch to poke a finger in the eye of the man who (initially) harbored the Shah.


    Shortly after the election, the lame duck Carter administration, with the assistance of intermediaries such as Algerian diplomat Abdulkarim Ghuraib, opened fruitful negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. In exchange for the unfreezing of 8 billion dollars worth of Iranian assets and immunity from lawsuits Iran might have faced, the hostages were to be freed. On January 20 1981, minutes after President Reagan’s inauguration, the hostages were formally released into U.S. custody, having spent 444 days in captivity.

    The hostages were flown to Frankfurt am Main Air Force Base in West Germany, where former President Jimmy Carter, acting as an emissary for the Reagan administration, received them. After medical check-ups and debriefings they took a second flight to Washington, D.C., where they received a hero’s welcome. For some, this only added to the nation’s celebration of Reagan taking the presidency.

  3. McGehee says:

    This has to open the idea that Reagan was dealing with the enemy behind the Presidents back to influence the election.

    James, can we get ad hominem on this guy? Please?

  4. Herb says:

    And now, we are faced with the probability that this terrorists country, Iran, will have nuke weapons. They stuck it to us then and have been sticking it to us ever sinse. I don’t think that Bush will put up with their BS like Carter did and I don’t think we will have to long to wait until we bomb them back into the stone age that they want so much to live in. Thank God that Reagan was elected and rebuilt our military that Carter destroyed.

  5. NoZe says:

    I agree, you have to give the Carter administration credit for this one. The hostage negotiations went on for over a year and ultimately cost Carter the election, but every one of the hostages came back alive, something that can’t be said of the Reagan and Bush hostages.