1980: Tehran hostage rescue mission fails

Oct 2018
6
ha noi
#1
this is 30 yrs ago today.

BBC ON THIS DAY | 25 | 1980: Tehran hostage rescue mission fails

Well, not sure what to say, just that Iran - US relations haven't thawed much in 30 yrs have they.

Do you think that this failed rescue, plays a large part in the US mind set toward Iran?
I think that the failure is seen by many Iranians as the will of God.

I do find the reaction of Many European nations rather interesting, was there perhaps some sympathy toward Iran over the Embassy siege?

certainly much of the documents found in the Embassy were very informative, there is one (i think) from a CIA director discussing a full Invasion of Iran.

Do you hold and credit to the "October surprise" idea?

Azita
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,467
Dispargum
#3
Point of clarification, the military operation, Operation Eagle Claw, was in April 1980. The attempted October surprise was entirely diplomatic - negotiations to get the hostages released just before the US election.

I agree US-Iran relations remain bitter down to the present, but it was the storming of the embassy and the taking of the hostages that did it, not any failed rescue attempt.
Back in 1980, there were far fewer computers in use. Data could not be collected and assimilated as quickly as it is today. The final polls before the election therefore reflected the national mood a week or so before. Those polls showed the race between Carter and Reagan to be too close to call. The hostage situation had been on the back burner for many months. Many Americans were thinking of other things as they prepared to vote. Then over the weekend the news was full of speculation that the hostages might get released. It didn't happen, but the voters were reminded of Carter's inability to resolve that situation one way or another. Reagan won the election easily, probably because a lot of Carter voters were reminded of the hostage crisis and changed their mind at the last minute.

More recently it has been alleged that Reagan's people deliberately sabotaged the negotiations to deny Carter an October surprise. Carter's attempt to pull an October surprise and Reagan's attempt to sabotage it reflect poorly on both candidates.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,366
US
#4
Point of clarification, the military operation, Operation Eagle Claw, was in April 1980. The attempted October surprise was entirely diplomatic - negotiations to get the hostages released just before the US election.

I agree US-Iran relations remain bitter down to the present, but it was the storming of the embassy and the taking of the hostages that did it, not any failed rescue attempt.
Back in 1980, there were far fewer computers in use. Data could not be collected and assimilated as quickly as it is today. The final polls before the election therefore reflected the national mood a week or so before. Those polls showed the race between Carter and Reagan to be too close to call. The hostage situation had been on the back burner for many months. Many Americans were thinking of other things as they prepared to vote. Then over the weekend the news was full of speculation that the hostages might get released. It didn't happen, but the voters were reminded of Carter's inability to resolve that situation one way or another. Reagan won the election easily, probably because a lot of Carter voters were reminded of the hostage crisis and changed their mind at the last minute.

More recently it has been alleged that Reagan's people deliberately sabotaged the negotiations to deny Carter an October surprise. Carter's attempt to pull an October surprise and Reagan's attempt to sabotage it reflect poorly on both candidates.
Did you say "alleged?" One thing's for sure. The hostage situation occurred and was prolonged under Carter. Allegedly, he was perceived as weak by the Iranian Revolutionaries.
 
Mar 2015
1,286
Yorkshire
#6
Jul 2016
8,160
USA
#8
Not sure it was the will of God, rather a shambles, to be honest.
It was a boondoggle and bureaucratic nightmare of general officers/admirals trying to get a piece of something they had no business being involved in. For instance, the RH-53 helicopters used should never have been, they were not rigged for long range travel nor were they piloted by the best pilots, but were chosen because they were the only available that worked well on carriers because they could be folded. The reason they needed to fold? Various brass decided that they couldn't leave helicopters parked on the deck of an aircraft because Soviet Satellite surveillance might spot them and then could alert the Iranians. Instead they chose helicopters piloted by individuals who had done no specific training to prepare, in helicopters that weren't altogether reliable, which lacked fuel stores so requiring a refueling site created inside Iran itself, which was then inadvertently compromised upon landing, at which point numerous helicopters either broke down or crashed on landing to the point that not enough would be available to carry out the mission, causing the mission to be aborted, and then while the exfil plan was being executed a RH-53 helicopter clipped a C-130 refueler, causing numerous casualties and destroyed aircraft that the Iranians got to parade for propaganda purposes.

The failure of Eagle Claw did have one silver lining, the debacle created the justification for creating Joint Special Operations Command, which removed all conventional forces from the decision making process.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,467
Dispargum
#9
I do find the reaction of Many European nations rather interesting, was there perhaps some sympathy toward Iran over the Embassy siege?
Relations between Iran and Britain, France, and Germany were all strained after the 1979 revolution and during the Iran-Iraq War with most European powers supporting Iraq. Britain and France closed their embassies although France didn't do so until 1987. Germany reduced ties. Italy maintained fairly good relations with Iran throughout the post revolutionary period.
Most European countries did not react to the Hostage Crisis as strongly as the US did. Many European countries imported oil from Iran and had other business interests. The bond between the US and Europe circa 1980 was not as strong as it would later become. Margaret Thatcher was disappointed to initially receive only lukewarm support from the US during the Falkland Islands War. US policy would later turn against the Argentines and in favor of Britain. Europe had not really supported the US during Vietnam. Closer ties between the US and Europe only came about during the 1980s.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#10
Point of clarification, the military operation, Operation Eagle Claw, was in April 1980. The attempted October surprise was entirely diplomatic - negotiations to get the hostages released just before the US election.

I agree US-Iran relations remain bitter down to the present, but it was the storming of the embassy and the taking of the hostages that did it, not any failed rescue attempt.
True, but had the rescue worked, the US would have been more likely to overlook and forget about the embassy takeover, more willing to put the incident behind it and treat as something in the past. As it is, the embassy takeover is still a sore point, and continues to poison US attitudes toward Iran to this day.

Back in 1980, there were far fewer computers in use. Data could not be collected and assimilated as quickly as it is today. The final polls before the election therefore reflected the national mood a week or so before. Those polls showed the race between Carter and Reagan to be too close to call. The hostage situation had been on the back burner for many months. Many Americans were thinking of other things as they prepared to vote. Then over the weekend the news was full of speculation that the hostages might get released. It didn't happen, but the voters were reminded of Carter's inability to resolve that situation one way or another. Reagan won the election easily, probably because a lot of Carter voters were reminded of the hostage crisis and changed their mind at the last minute.
I question the accuracy of the polling. It wasnt just the Embassy Hostage crisis that turned Americans against Carter. Inflation had reached new heights under Carter, something like 13.5 % in 1980, and it had been something like 5 or 6% when he took office. People also recall the gas shortage under Carter as well. His handling of the hostage affair wasn't appreciated by Americans, and the botched rescue attempt was an embarrassment.

I think the main knock against Reagan was that he was thought by many to be too far to the right. Americans don't like their presidents to stray too far from the political center. Goldwater was thought too far to the right lost big time in 1964, and McGovern was though too far to the left lost equally big in 1972. But Reagn manage to convince enough Americans he was more of a moderate than rhetoric suggested.

More recently it has been alleged that Reagan's people deliberately sabotaged the negotiations to deny Carter an October surprise. Carter's attempt to pull an October surprise and Reagan's attempt to sabotage it reflect poorly on both candidates.

Carter's terrible handling of inflation, his gas shortage which is generally thought to be an artificial creation and not due to any real shortage, his embarrassing rescue attempt, his sanctimonious attitude was all enough to turn voters against him. Carter criticized his predecessor Ford for inflation, yet Carter inherited an inflation rate under 5% and left office with the inflation rate over 12%, double the rate he inherited, and far higher than it ever had been under Ford. Why would anyone want to re-election that failure?

There seems a long standing tradition among Democrats to attribute their failure in the election to some nefarious scheme by Republicans rather than due to their own short comings. ( Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State when an US Ambassador was murdered with impunity, and which the state department tried to falsely blame on a spontaneous uprising, which is now admitted to be a lie. Nor was Clinton anywhere to be found when the ambassador was murdered, providing zero leadership in the crisis. And somd of us remember that it was Hillary's task under Bill Clinton to get a health care bill passed, which she failed at, and set health care reform back a decade. Almost any other Democrat but Mrs. Clinton would have beaten Trump.)

The adverse impact of the Tehran Hostage Crisis on Carter's presidency was due to Carter looking totally impotent day after after day for a year. Even if he managed to get the hostages home by August or September, it wouldn't have been enough to get him re-elected, not after so many months, and not with an inflation rate of over 12%.
 

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