Maybe Secretary of State John Kerry should have done a “reality check” a year ago. If he had, he wouldn’t have wasted a lot of time, money and prestige on a dead end “peace process” – nor would his colleagues be talking on background to The Post to prove they never fell for his Middle East peace fantasies.
Just ahead of news of the talks’ collapse, unnamed Obama officials rushed forth to tell the public (and Kerry) that he “risks being seen as trying too hard at the expense of a range of other pressing international issues, and perhaps even his reputation, according to several senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about sensitive internal and diplomatic matters. ‘A point will come where he has to go out and own the failure,’ an official said. For now, the official said, Kerry needs to ‘lower the volume and see how things unfold.’” Even former Obama adviser Dennis Ross, who has a long history of unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy, warned, “It’s not like we have a lot of good things going on internationally right now. When other things aren’t going so well, this tends to look like just part of a piece. My own recommendation would be to think hard about how this affects everything else you’re doing.”
That time to own failure seems to have come. On Friday, word got out that a “meeting of top negotiators and chief U.S. Mideast envoy Martin Indyk devolved into a shouting match early Thursday. Kerry’s phone appeals to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later Thursday had no apparent effect.” Few of Obama’s critics are surprised. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tells me, “Kerry’s failure here was, unfortunately, predictable. The Palestinians since 2009 have made recognition at the UN — not peace — their top priority.”
Kerry is encouraged by peace process addicts and sycophants looking for jobs and conference bookings who tell him he’s doing better than anyone before him. It’s never been so hard. There’s never been someone so dedicated. He’s so much more earnest than even Hillary Clinton. Oh, Puleez. Since Jimmy Carter, every administration has tried to forge Middle East peace. Were those administrations’ envoys, secretaries of state and presidents just slackers?
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute injects some reality, telling Right Turn, “Any sympathy for John Kerry is wasted. The man made his own bed, forcing the peace process down the throats of parties not ready for final status, elevating the importance of this long-running saga with no regard for the views of the parties, the region or anyone else.” But Kerry has told us over and over how close the parties were, how much progress was being made. Well, I guess he was kidding himself.
But really, to be fair to Kerry, this is a mess entirely of Obama’s own making. It was his policy preference and his warped analysis (that Israel was to blame for the impasse) driving the initiative.
It does make you worry about the Clinton-Obama-Kerry brain trust. If they were so off base on the Middle East, is it likely they’ve misread Iran as well? Well, considering the Israeli-Palestinian obsession and their high hopes for Bashar al-Assad ( “a reformer”!) their track record is pretty poor. The wasted five-year peace process endeavor — which foreign policy conservatives have been saying all along was misguided – makes Kerry into a hapless figure, a man tripping over his own ego. Congress should keep this in mind when he tells them that progress in Geneva is possible, the parties are talking frankly, diplomacy is working, etc. We now know he is entirely incapable of telling the difference between progress and stalling, between sincere efforts and farce.
Obama and Kerry’s rotten judgment will be front and center when, as virtually everyone expects, no final deal in Geneva is reached in July between Iran and the “P5+1.” They’ll disregard the whole host of signs that Iran has no intention of making a deal. Never mind the appointment of Hamid Aboutalebi, a terrorist who participated in the Iran embassy hostage-taking. Don’t bother with continued declarations by Iranian officials that they will never dismantle their program. Forget the expressed determination to wipe Israel off the map. Give them six more months. C’mon just six months! That’s how it will go. Congress should be firm, not trusting Kerry to divine Iranian intentions by body language and not amenable to taking bland assurances of progress at face value. They should treat July as a real deadline and move ahead with planned sanctions. No more trust-me’s for Kerry.