What do these two things have in common?
1. Apple’s plans to replace its black-gun emoji with a cute green water pistol.
2. The Obama administration’s secret airlift of $400 million in cash to Iran that just happened to coincide with Iran’s release of four American prisoners detained in Tehran.
I’ll leave you, dear readers, to come up with an answer. The decline of Western Civilization? The wimp-ization of society in general? A terrifying new dawn of tyrannical political correctness?
Let’s return to that green squirt-gun:
Apple has declined to comment on the change in the gun emoji, which was reported by several tech news outlets, and the tech giant's statement on the upcoming release of new emojis largely focused on gender equality and diversity.
But gun control advocates have hailed the symbolic move as a step forward. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a non-profit organization, ran a Disarm the iPhone campaign targeting the pistol emoji. The organization's Executive Director Leah Barrett told CNNMoney that Apple's move showed it was standing up to the gun industry. "There are many more life-affirming ways to express oneself than with a gun," she said.
In other words, even an illustration of firearm is out of bounds these days.
Now for that 400 million simoleons:
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”
But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.
In short, we paid ransom to the Iranians to get our citizens back.
And, as it happens, that’s exactly how the Iranians viewed our massive shipment of euros, Swiss francs, and other piles of foreign cash apparently procured from Swiss and Dutch banks and loaded onto an unmarked cargo plane.
Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. The Iranian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.
“Sometimes the Iranians want cash because it’s so hard for them to access things in the international financial system,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the January cash delivery. “They know it can take months just to figure out how to wire money from one place to another.”
Gee, the Iranians have it hard.
American policy used to be: No concessions to terrorists, including the payment of ransom.
And American corporations used to be able to stand up to pressure groups with nonsensical names such as “Disarm the iPhone.”
But no more. The lesson of both incidents is: Put a little pressure on an American entity, and it will cave.