Release of American Hostages, a National Imperative

It’s great to see U.S. officials continue to keep going the extra mile to secure the release of Americans of unlawfully imprisoned Americans. There are many examples, but I wrote this brief post to highlight one, American hostages in Syria.

According to an exclusive report published this weekend in the Wall Street Journal, a high-ranking Trump administration official traveled to Syria to meet with regime officials. The purpose of the trip was to discuss the release of American citizens, including a freelance journalist, Mr. Austin Tice, a humanitarian aid worker Mr. Majd Kamalmaz, and potentially other Americans held hostage in Syria.

While these sorts of trips are politically complicated, they are necessary and should, in most cases, be undertaken to other nations where Americans are unlawfully imprisoned or held hostage. Every case is unique, and each trip must be based on the merits and competing equities. There is no substitute for U.S. leadership in these matters and in a majority of cases, American officials should engage with foreign nations that are holding Americans hostage.

There is much I could unpack from the Wall Street Journal piece, but best to leave it as-is for now, without further commentary. The details of engagements of this sort never make it into news reports, as there is a lot of work done by dedicated U.S. officials who work quietly behind the scenes to bring Americans home. That is good. Most hostage recovery efforts should remain unknown.

Yet now and then, publicity is good. As do families and hostages, the world needs to know that America stands behind its people and will go to great lengths, even engage with some really terrible people, to secure the release of Americans and, in some cases, legal residents with strong connections to the United States.

There are Americans and residents with strong connections to the United States unlawfully imprisoned or held hostages in Russia, Iran, and closer to home, 90 miles from Florida in Communist Cuba. Bringing these and others home should be a national imperative.