NBC Analyst Says Iran's 2016 Seizing of US Sailors Proves Trump Is Wrong on Iran

Remember in 2016 when Iran seized ten American sailors and their riverine command boats and when their Iranian captors photographed them on their knees with their hands behind their heads and videotaped confessions, and when then Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the Iranians for treating our sailors well, despite this probable violation of the Geneva Convention?

It was an embarrassing episode for the country during the Obama era, but on Friday's MSNBC Live, former member of Obama's national security council and current NBC analyst Ned Price declared that the episode's quick resolution actually proves that Obama's Iran strategy is superior to President Trump's.

The segment began with host Craig Melvin and NBC correspondent Courtney Kube discussing the USS Boxer downing an Iranian drone on Thursday. After a semantic conversation about whether the drone was "shot down" or merely "downed" by electronic jamming, Melvin then turned to Price and asked his thoughts on the situation. 

 

 

Price declared the tensions in region to be Trump's fault because he has pursued, "An approach that could be characterized by provocation for the sake of provocation, escalation for the sake of escalation." He blamed the situation on Trump withdrawing from the Iran deal, "deal despite the fact that Iran, according to our own intelligence community, international weapons inspectors, was abiding by the stringent verification and monitoring  protocols implemented by the Iran deal."

We know that the "stringent verification and monitoring  protocols" are not that stringent, if they were Javad Zarif wouldn't be making his latest "substantial" offer. Furthermore, in a woefully underreported story, Axios reported that the IAEA found radioactive material at a "carpet factory" in Iran, which would violate not only the JCPOA, but also the NPT.

Price then got to the 2016 capture of the ten American sailors. With Kube nodding her head, seemingly as a sign of agreement, Price declared: 

However, the Obama Administration was able to free these sailors within 24 hours precisely because we had multiple channels of communications available between senior U.S. and Iranian officials. In one instance, the secretary of state was able to pick up the phone and call his Iranian counterpart, something that is almost completely unfathomable in the case of the Trump Administration. I think that underscores the precariousness of the situation we're in. There's provocation for the sake of provocation and no off-ramp because you don't have those ties between the Trump Administration and the regime

Iran didn't release the sailors because John Kerry and Javad Zarif have a bromance. Iran released them because they had to; the United States and Iran were not at war, Geneva Convention violations not withstanding.

Here is a transcript for the July 19 show:

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin

12:10 PM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: Let's bring in Ned Price, a former member of the national security council under President Obama. And NBC correspondent Courtney Kube, she covers national security and the Pentagon. Both of them are in Colorado right now. It looks like they're on vacation but they are not. They are at the Aspen Security Forum. Courtney, I'll start with you. We heard from the president, we've heard from Iran. What are we hearing from the Pentagon? What are they saying about exactly what happened here? 

COURTEY KUBE: So they maintain that, in fact, the Boxer did shoot down an Iranian drone. It's interesting at the beginning they didn't acknowledge it was Iranian, but then later Central Command, which is the U.S. military command that controls that region came out and said they believe it's Iranian. A couple interesting things about this, the U.S. maintains that the drone was coming within a threatening range. It's interesting that President Trump specifically used the word “defensive action” against the drone. Because, you know, the U.S. Military, of course, always has the right of self-defense and it looks like in this case they took action on that right. When the drone was coming in within about a thousand yards of the ship. It's also important to note that the Boxer was transiting through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. Frequently Iranian boats, usually small boats called FIACs, or attack craft will harass or mess with U.S. Military ships that go through, but in this case the action was so threatening that in fact they felt they needed to take action. Also what's interesting, earlier we heard it was shot down, but this was a new capability that the military has on some of their ships. It's a jamming device. So they actually jammed the drone and it literally fell out of the sky and was destroyed. 

MELVIN: So -- but -- so not to get hung up on this, did we shoot it down? Is that our assertion that we shot it down or is our assertion that we jammed it and that brought it down? 

KUBE; You can say brought it down or took it down, but it wasn't actually shot down. 

MELVIN: Got it. 

KUBE: Sort of like what the military considers a kinetic action. They jammed it and caused it to lose its communication and it fell out of the sky and was destroyed

MELVIN: Ned, if you were sitting at your old job at the national security council and you heard about this incident, what would your gut reaction be? 

NED PRICE: Well, It's hard to imagine a completely analogous situation, Craig. I think this administration has taken on a different approach, to put it mildly, to Iran. An approach that could be characterized by provocation for the sake of provocation, escalation for the sake of escalation with the first provocation coming from the Trump Administration’s decision in May in last year to withdraw from the Iran deal despite the fact that Iran, according to our own intelligence community, international weapons inspectors, was abiding by the stringent verification and monitoring protocols implemented by the Iran deal. There is -- there was, however, an incident that I think illustrates the differences in approach and strategies between the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration. In January of 2015 -- 2016, I'm sorry, the day of the president's final State of the Union Address, the Iranians took -- took control of ten U.S. Navy sailors after their two small craft inadvertently veered into Iranian territorial waters. If you imagine that to happen today, it could lead to military conflict, it could lead to broader escalation, potentially even war. In the case of this incident, however, the Obama Administration was able to free these sailors within 24 hours precisely because we had multiple channels of communications available between senior U.S. and Iranian officials. In one instance, the secretary of state was able to pick up the phone and call his Iranian counterpart, something that is almost completely unfathomable in the case of the Trump Administration. I think that underscores the precariousness of the situation we're in. There's provocation for the sake of provocation and no off-ramp because you don't have those ties between the Trump Administration and the regime. 

 

NB Daily Middle East Iran MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Craig Melvin Donald Trump Barack Obama John Kerry
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