The White House on Friday accused Republicans of being “unhappy” about Iran’s release of 10 U.S. sailors.
“I’m sure everyone is pleased, especially the sailors and their families, that they are returned safely and diplomacy did save the day,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “I know that the only people who are unhappy about it are Republicans for some reason.”
“We'd probably be in a bloody war with Iran right now over our sailors,” Earnest said.
“It is unclear to me, by the way, exactly how the safety and the security of the United States, or our men and women in uniform is advanced by starting a war with a nation like Iran that has an advanced military,” he added.
Republicans chastised the Obama administration after it was revealed Tuesday that Iran took the sailors into custody after their vessel drifted into Iranian waters. Critics called the incident a consequence of the president's soft approach toward Tehran.
The sailors’ capture cast a shadow over Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. One GOP senator, Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts Senators get North Korea briefing in unusual WH visit A Vandenberg movement in Congress MORE (Colo.), called on the speech to be postponed until lawmakers received a briefing. Others said it should serve as cause to renege on the nuclear deal with Iran.
The sailors were released after less than 24 hours in custody, a move the White House said was a product of Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEgypt’s death squads and America's deafening silence With help from US, transformative change in Iran is within reach Ellison comments on Obama criticized as 'a stupid thing to say' MORE’s new line of communication with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
But Iran provoked the U.S. by releasing videos and images of the sailors in custody. In a video, a sailor apologized for the “mistake” of entering Iranian territorial waters. Administration critics called it an embarrassment for the country.
“I don't think there's any reason for anybody to be embarrassed,” Earnest said. “I think there's a reason for us to be certainly relieved” that the military personnel were released quickly.