Like most Republican candidates, Marco Rubio condemned Obama’s negotiated release of prisoners from Iran, just like they condemned the nuclear deal that Obama negotiated to lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran giving up their nuclear weapons ambitions.
Iran released five prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was convicted of espionage. In exchange, the US gave clemency to seven Iranians imprisoned or charged, not because of spying or even terrorism, but with sanctions violations.
The Republicans claim that the US citizens released by Iran were not prisoners, but were hostages, innocent of the charges used to imprison them. Rezaian’s situation was complicated by the fact that he holds dual US-Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, so he was tried as an Iranian.
Of course, we will never know if Rezaian was actually spying for the US government. Personally, I don’t think so. However, the US has a long history of using journalists as spies, so it wouldn’t surprise me much.
But Rubio wasn’t content to just condemn Obama’s actions (it is typically a requirement to condemn Obama for anything he does). He had to take it one step further into irony.
Rubio claimed that Obama was weak, and that he (Rubio) would have negotiated with Iran the way Ronald Reagan did.
I guess Rubio is hoping that nobody will remember that Reagan (with Oliver North) sold arms to Iran (which was illegal trading with the enemy) in exchange for releasing US prisoners. Not content with one act of treason, Reagan and North then turned around and used the proceeds from the arms sale to Iran to illegally fund the right-wing Contra rebels who were trying to overthrow the democratically elected left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Reagan repeatedly lied about this, and later in a TV address to the nation even admitted he had lied. It was a huge scandal for Reagan, and was certainly grounds for impeachment (seems far worse than lying about sleeping with an intern). Not to mention a huge blow for America’s reputation.
But Rubio is holding up Reagan as an example of how to negotiate with Iran.
What’s next? Would Rubio like to overthrow the government of Iran and install a dictator, like we did with the coup in 1953 that installed the Shah of Iran and caused all the enmity between us?