Between snarking on public figures and dishing out environmental news, I try (key word: "try") to keep on top of foreign affairs. This week was trying. I was already a bit behind on blogging about the SOTU, so I also missed blogging about the capture, and release, of 10 US sailors who were in Iranian waters.
It's not that I didn't care, mind you--it just that when I heard of it, it was already determined that they were going to be released. I might be conflicted by how it was handled on Iran's part, but I'm wholly unsympathetic to people who want to play the "optics" game about how what the Iranian footage of the sailors looked like. Yes, Iran has to make it look a certain way for their folks at home. Yes, it looks shitty to us. It's almost like there are two very different points of view at work! But did I second-guess whether they were really releasing them--no. Timing.
It is coincidental that Iran has also released four Americans ahead of confirmation by the IAEA that Iran has complied with their end of the nuclear agreement. But it should also be recognized as being due to very hard work by the US State Department occurring alongside the work on the nuclear deal. I'm also (no surprise if you're following this blog) not really sympathetic to criticisms of either deal. The seven Iranians we're releasing aren't "most wanted criminals"--they violated sanctions on trade (and the US apparently feels so-so on that score depending upon who one is). The $150 billion that Iran is supposedly "getting" is the unfreezing of their own assets as a part of sanction relief. And we can always add sanctions as Iranian misbehavior dictates without necessarily scuttling any part of the deal.
All in all, it seems like pretty positive news to me.