November 12, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with a journalist during a joint press conference with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE minister of foreign affairs in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday Nov. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Secretary of State John F. Kerry. (Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press)

I don’t usually comment on U.S. foreign policy because it doesn’t drive votes in U.S. elections and because other than being a regular international business traveler, I have no particular formal expertise in this area. But the issue of a nuclear capable Iran is different. I think President Obama’s policies toward Iran is a fundamental question of war and peace that could do a lot to shape America’s future. His decisions could result in nuclear blackmail or a nuclear conflict that would obviously impact elections as soon as 2014 and perhaps for the next decade or more.

It’s difficult to believe that this president has a savant-like quality that will guide his hand when dealing with Iran. Let’s assume Obama and his team will handle the issue of Iran like it has handled just about everything else: with grand goals followed by half-measures, embellishments, pointless rhetoric and equal measures of deceit and delusion, all designed to claim success regardless of the results.

I defer to Jackson Diehl and his piece in The Post on Nov. 10, “John Kerry’s Middle East Dream World.” Diehl is a sophisticated observer of foreign policy, and he knows all the players in the game very well. But even Diehl raises the alarm on the administration’s approach to Iran, using words such as “desperate” to describe Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent actions. Diehl also questions the secretary’s grasp of reality, concluding that, “If any one of Kerry’s dreams comes true, the world will be better off, so I hope skeptics like me will be proved wrong. If not, this secretary of state will be remembered as a self-deceiving bumbler — and his successor will have some large messes to clean up.”

This administration includes a group of savvy foreign policy and national security professionals who I have a lot of respect for. And Kerry has boldly asserted that the United States is not “stupid” or “blind.” But is Kerry in too much of a hurry to make a deal with Iran? Has Obama’s foreign policy team worn out its welcome at the White House, no longer bringing the president any bad news or challenging his biases? Have Obama’s foreign policy experts simply yielded to the benefits of telling this president what he wants to hear? Or has Iran really come around and offered something completely new?

Let’s face it. At a certain level, what Iran needs to do to get a deal with the United States and our allies is pretty simple. They have to verify that what they say about their nuclear ambitions is true. The problem is that the Iranian government doesn’t allow for any checks and balances, the Iranian media is not free to scrutinize what the regime is doing and the Iranians have been caught in lies for decades regarding their nuclear capabilities. Is it possible the president and others in the administration are choosing to believe what the Iranians are telling them so they can rationalize an agreement that is, in fact, a license for Iran to continue on its path toward a nuclear weapon?

On the surface, we should find it reassuring that Obama has said repeatedly that we will prevent “Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” But given what Syria, the IRS, Obamacare, etc. have taught us about the credibility of the president’s words, we should already be asking what exactly the president means by “weapon.” I can already hear the weasel words when Iran conducts nuclear tests in the Lut desert. Get ready for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to say something like, “Well, it wasn’t a weapon, it was a nuclear device that ‘combusted’” or, “It was just ‘fissile material’ that was ‘detonated.’”

The consequences of just hoping for the best as the administration negotiates with Iran are too severe for Republicans to not be aggressive skeptics. Republicans in Congress should hound the administration for the details of what commitments they are making with Iran. Whatever ignites the GOP about Benghazi, Libya, or energizes them about Obamacare should be bottled and shared liberally at every party caucus when Iran is on the agenda.

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