Time Essay: The Symbolism of the Siege

Beyond the issue of securing the release of the hostages in Iran, the biggest immediate problem facing the Carter Administration is how to manage the symbolism of the siege—and, perhaps more important, the symbolism of its aftermath. There is great danger that the spectacle of youthful radicals, backed by an aged and atavistic theocrat, humiliating and terrorizing American diplomatic personnel will have become a symbol of U.S. weakness. On the battlefield of domestic politics, the past two weeks offer Jimmy Carter's bi-partisan legion of opponents an almost irresistible target for sniping. All a...

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