Former President Jimmy Carter marked his 90th birthday Wednesday with a lengthy interview on CNBC Meets where he discussed his one term in office and the one thing he would have handled differently — the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Carter suggested Operation Eagle Claw, a failed 1980 attempt to rescue the hostages taken by Iranian revolutionaries at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, could have been successful if he committed one more helicopter to the mission.
“I think I would have been re-elected easily if I had been able to rescue our hostages from the Iranians,” said Carter. “And everybody asks me what would do more, I would say I would send one more helicopter because if I had one more helicopter we could have brought out not only the 52 hostages, but also brought out the rescue team, and when that failed, then I think that was the main factor that brought about my failure to be re-elected. So that’s one thing I would change.”
Operation Eagle Claw was aborted after three of the helicopters taking part in the mission experienced mechanical problems.
Carter also said he believed he would have been re-elected if he took military action against Iran due to the taking of the hostages. Though he argued he “could have wiped Iran off the map,” Carter said he thinks avoiding war was the “right decision.”
“I could’ve been re-elected if I’d taken military action against Iran, shown that I was strong and resolute and, um, manly and so forth,” said Carter, adding, “I could have wiped Iran off the map with the weapons that we had, but in the process a lot of innocent people would have been killed, probably including the hostages and so I stood up against all that, er, all that advice, and then eventually my prayers were answered and every hostage came home safe and free. And so I think I made the right decision in retrospect, but it was not easy at the time.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.