John Kerry’s Iran problem

November 12, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a statement on the situation in Egypt. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a statement on the situation in Egypt. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

I compare Secretary of State John Kerry’s pleas that he’s neither blind nor stupid to Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” Bret Stephens does one better: “‘We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,’ a defensive John Kerry said over the weekend on ‘Meet the Press,’ sounding uncomfortably like Otto West (Kevin Kline) from ‘A Fish Called Wanda.’ When you’ve reached the ‘don’t call me stupid’ stage of diplomacy, it means the rest of the world has your number.” (For those confused by the reference: Take a peek.) But Kerry is no laughing matter.

Kerry is by all accounts (and was in the Senate) completely unaware of his own pomposity and silliness. How else could he, in the wake of Syria, proclaim, as The Post reports: “Every time the president has said, ‘I’m going to do something,’ he has done it,” Kerry said at a news conference with the United Arab Emirates foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Obama’s Iran pledge, he said, ‘is a centerpiece of his foreign policy, and he will not bluff.’” Cringe.

Kerry’s problem  is that neither he nor the president are taken seriously by many of our allies or by the Iranians. (Given his recent pratfall on Obamacare, the president’s credibility at home is tanking as well.)  As for Kerry, it’s not every secretary of state who can be outed on twitter by an Iranian thug:

Zarif on Monday directly contradicted Kerry’s public remarks about how the Geneva talks were suspended, disputing his assertion that Iran walked away from a deal offered by the United States and five other major powers.

“No amount of spinning can change what happened,” Zarif wrote in one of a series of Twitter postings that blamed internal divisions among the Western powers for the suspension of the talks. “Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft Thursday night?”

It is in this context that Congress, France, Israel and our Gulf Arab allies must act. When Kerry goes to the Hill he should be asked point blank hard questions:

Is he proposing some sanctions relief but no cessation or dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program?

Is he going to let the Iranians keep their Arak plutonium reactor?

Won’t the six months he thinks it will take to reach an agreement exceed the time Iran needs for nuclear breakout?

Why does he have an account if events that differ from France and all the Western media?

Kerry is the perfect instrument of the White House’s desperate policy of fending off calls for real action against Iran. His ego and cluelessness are easily turned against him by the Iranians. His desire to wave the paper agreement in the air is obvious. It is up to Congress, France, Israel and the Sunni Arab states to shake him out of his diplomatic slumber and to alert the world to the dangers of his self-delusion. At the very least when a phony deal is reached, U.S. allies will have made their case that it is insufficient and dangerous, preserving their latitude to act as they see fit. That willingness to act independently of the Obama administration is likely the only thing standing between us and a nuclear-armed Islamic revolutionary state with its fleet of proxy terrorists.

A final note: Bill Clinton has thrown the president under the Obamacare bus by calling for Americans to be allowed to keep their health insurance. Hillary might perk up as well and go on record as opposing Kerry’s sell out. Otherwise, she’ll be seen as developing and implicitly ratifying a calamitous national security policy.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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Jennifer Rubin | November 12, 2013