Freedom Is the Best Revenge

What has been learned from a decade of terrorism and hostage taking? Waiting is the best policy, and events, more than people, make the difference.

Although the American hostages were innocent bystanders in the Middle East, their agonizing captivity became the nation's ordeal. They were kidnapped only because they were Americans, men who represented what Iran and its Shi'ite proteges called "the Great Satan," and their fate became an issue for all Americans, especially for three U.S. Presidents.

No one knew how to set them free. Jimmy Carter publicly displayed his anguish about the Americans seized in the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, and his failure to get them out helped make him a one-term President. Ronald Reagan tried to strike secret deals with so-called...

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