The formal end of the U.S. war in Iraq on December 15 enhances neighboring Iran as a major, unpredictable factor in the U.S. presidential election of 2012.
First, a look back: Iran’s mullahs already had one opportunity to affect American politics, in 1980. Their seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days haunted Pres. Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign and — thanks to such developments as yellow ribbons, a “Rose Garden” strategy, a failed rescue operation, and ABC’s America Held Hostage program — contributed to his defeat. Ayatollah Khomeini rebuffed Carter’s hopes for an “October surprise” release of the hostages and twisted the knife one final time by freeing them exactly as Ronald Reagan took the presidential oath.
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