I am agnostic on whether President Obama should have launched a military mission to recover or destroy an RQ-170 Stealth drone that went down in Iran. Much depends on the tactical intelligence picture which no outsider can judge accurately: How far away from substantial Iranian military forces did the drone crash? What were the odds of getting an extraction mission in and out undetected? Could an airstrike be launched without convincing the Iranians that a major war was breaking out? Etc. I don’t know the right answer to those questions, so I will withhold judgment.
I am pretty sure, however, that the president’s request the Iranians return the drone was dopey and humiliating. Especially because there was no “or else” appended to the demand.
Predictably, the Iranians are making propaganda fodder out of the president’s request.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman is demanding the U.S. apologize for violating Iranian airspace while the semi-official Fars News Agency has a headline crowing: “Obama Begs Iran to Give Him Back His Toy Plane.”
Who, I wonder, at the NSC and/or the State Department and Department of Defense thought it was a good idea to come crawling on our knees to the Iranians for the return of our spy drone? This is a relatively minor misstep, but it is sadly emblematic of our confused approach toward the Islamic republic.