Time Capsule: Stassen Seeks Role as Negotiator in Iranian Hostage Crisis

Thirty-two years ago today, Harold E. Stassen announced that he had asked President Carter to send him to Iran to negotiate a release of the 52 American hostages being held captive after Islamic students and militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

The 73-year-old Philadelphia attorney told reporters at an April 20th press conference that he had sent a letter to the President asking to be sent to Iran to “work out a peaceful solution, including the safe return of all American hostages and the establishment of a sound future relationship between the people of Iran and the United States.”

Stassen, who served as President Eisenhower’s director of foreign operations, had initially asked President Carter for permission to go to Iran in a letter dated December 7, 1979, about a month after the hostages were taken.

Stassen, who helped draft the United Nations Charter and was its last surviving signatory, negotiated treaties with no fewer than forty-two countries — including Iran — during his years in the Eisenhower Administration.  Needless to say, he had a reservoir of foreign policy experience from which to draw upon.

Seeking the elusive brass ring for the seventh time that year, the one-time “boy wonder” of American politics — and one of the last of the endangered liberal Republicans — had been highly critical of Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

“We should at once send skilled, experienced people to open up conferences with the militants, the government and [Ayatollah] Khomeini,” he said during a candidates’ forum in Altoona, Pennsylvania, a few days earlier while campaigning in his adopted state’s April 22nd primary.

Stassen, who entered twenty-one Republican presidential primaries that spring, also proposed asking Congress “to approve the taking of 500 hostages in this country” to give the United States more bargaining power in negotiations, adding that any such hostages should be individuals “close to the Iranian government.”

The former Minnesota governor and perennial presidential candidate said that he was opposed to making military threats against Iran because the vast majority of the citizens of that country were not responsible for the hostage crisis.

Stassen’s proposal was made only a week before President Carter, frustrated by six months of failure and disappointment in trying to negotiate a release of the hostages, ordered a daring rescue mission that ended tragically, resulting in the deaths of eight American servicemen.

One Comment

  1. (Atheism is truly a “religion” that tried to impose its biflees on others)Atheism is a very strange religion .What do the outward manifestations look like? Temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, not really.What great works of art? what music or paintings? doesn’t seem to inspire much of that. What common creeds, statements of belief and dogmas? What forms of prayer and worship?Come to that what deity? what pagan or animist ideas? I have heard of a fad about pet rocks’ but does anyone pray to them.I suppose the only things in common with religion in the orthodox sense is the proliferation of labels. Christians have Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran and so on, Islam has Sunni and Shia and about 40 minor forms, Jews can be Orthodox, Reform, Liberal etc. Well the atheists come in as Secular Humanists, Rationalists, freethinkers etc. We are on about the only common ground I can think of here, each claiming a particular label for themselves declares the others are wrong, to a greater or lesser degree.The religious don’t like to be alone therefore:I have religion, therefore atheism is a religion.I have faith, therefore atheists have faith.I have belief therefore atheists have belief.I must agree with the last one I believe I am getting a headache from this futility, I believe I will give the keyboard a rest for now.

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