John Kerry and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week in Diplomacy
Mideast Media Sampler 11/12/2013 – John Kerry’s MSM Cheerleaders
I almost feel bad for Secretary of State, John Kerry. This really has been a brutal few days for him.
There was the op-ed by Jackson Diehl John Kerry’s Middle East dream world
All this was before his weekend trip to Geneva for what became a failed attempt to close a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. Kerry’s conclusion: “I can tell you, without any reservations, we made significant progress.”
Stipulated: The mission of the U.S. secretary of state is to tackle big problems diplomatically, even if it means taking on missions impossible. Still, it’s hard to think of a previous chief of Foggy Bottom who has so conspicuously detached himself from on-the-ground realities. …
If any one of Kerry’s dreams comes true, the world would 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.
The op-ed inspired this tweet, from New York Times White House reporter Mark Landler, a big administration fan.
For those of us on tour with John Kerry , this is like getting a letter from Dad, cutting off the credit card: http://t.co/pZJnTG4mEV
— Mark Landler (@MarkLandler) November 11, 2013
Like I said, brutal.
Then there was Lee Smith in The Weekly Standard (citing a much-cited Ha’aretz article):
Haaretz reports that the administration misled Israel regarding the terms of the proposed interim agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. One senior Israeli official explained that on Wednesday Israel had seen an outline that the Israelis “didn’t love but could live with.” Thursday morning French and British officials, and not the White House, told the Israelis that the terms had changed and were much more favorable than what they’d been shown previously. “Suddenly it changed to something much worse that included a much more significant lifting of sanctions,” said the Israeli official. “The feeling was that the Americans are much more eager to reach an agreement than the Iranians.”
When Kerry landed in Geneva Friday, only a few small details were left to sort out before striking an agreement. But the problem wasn’t the Iranian side, rather it was France that wouldn’t sign off on the “bracketed text” in the draft document. In other words, after misleading the Israelis, the administration had hoped to present the deal as a fait accompli. In scuttling the agreement, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saved the day—for the time being.
Commenting on the same Ha’aretz article, Michael Doran tweeted:
This has been followed by Bret Stephens with Axis of Fantasy vs. Axis of Reality (or use Google Search to get there.) After familiarizing us with Wendy Sherman’s career, he gets to his target. Again, it is the Secretary of State.
But the French also understand that the sole reason Iran has a nuclear program is to build a nuclear weapon. They are not nonchalant about it. The secular republic has always been realistic about the threat posed by theocratic Iran. And they have come to care about nonproliferation too, in part because they belong to what is still a small club of nuclear states. Membership has its privileges.
This now puts the French at the head of a de facto Axis of Reality, the other prominent members of which are Saudi Arabia and Israel. In this Axis, strategy is not a game of World of Warcraft conducted via avatars in a virtual reality. “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.
(Since I’m focusing on Iran here, let me just add parenthetically that Secretary of State Kerry got blasted by Ambassador Alan Baker for the legal and historical ignorance he displayed in his undiplomatic tirade directed at Israel last week.)
Reading through these articles what emerges is a portrait of a man who is ill suited for diplomacy.
But not everyone views Secretary of State Kerry in such a negative light. There is, for example, the New York Times. In an article Iran Balked at Language of Draft Nuclear Deal, Western Diplomats Say, three reporters, including the aforementioned Mark Landler tell us the legend of John Kerry.
Many reports have ascribed the failure of the talks to France’s insistence that any agreement put tight restrictions on a heavy-water plant that Iran is building, which can produce plutonium.
But while France took a harder line than its partners on some issues, a senior American official said it was the Iranian delegation that balked at completing an interim agreement, saying that it had to engage in additional consultations in Tehran before proceeding further.
A senior American official who briefed Israeli reporters and experts in Jerusalem on Sunday said that the six world powers in the talks had approved a working document and presented it to the Iranians, according to Herb Keinon of The Jerusalem Post, who attended the briefing.
Read that middle paragraph again. Understand how it finesses what happened. It decouples the French toughness (did I really write that?) from the effect of having the Iranians go back for consultations. If the sequence had been written straightforwardly, the Iranian refusal to accept the deal would have been presented as a consequence of France taking “a harder line.” But that would imply that the Iranians had walked all over Kerry until he was bailed out by France, and that would just not do.
The Washington Post wasn’t much better, presenting Kerry (and the administration, generally) as a victim of those who are skeptical of the deal.
The outcome in Geneva already has provided ammunition to Obama administration critics at home and abroad. …
As it tries to seal the deal before opponents can derail it, the administration is launching its own sales effort. In addition to lobbying foreign leaders, Kerry will begin a round of congressional consultations this week. …
On the final leg of a 10-day trip to seven countries, Kerry said criticism of the proposed Iran accord is premature and ill-informed.
Kerry claims that his critics are ill-informed, but, towards the end of the article, the Post reports:
The Arak reactor, ostensibly designed for medical research and isotope production, has raised proliferation concerns because its spent nuclear fuel could be reprocessed to extract plutonium. Highly enriched uranium and plutonium can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons. Iran has denied any plans to build nuclear weapons.
“Iran has said that its program is peaceful,” Kerry said. “The supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] says he has issued a fatwa, the highest form of Islamic prohibition against some activity, and he said that is to prohibit Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon. What we are seeking to do is transform that fatwa into a legal code that universally is acceptable so that we can, in fact, prove that the program is peaceful.”
“[O]stensibly?” One does not need to be a nuclear physicist to know that this is false. The NRC informs us:
Over 1500 metric tons of plutonium have been produced world wide, some for weapons use, and most of the rest as a by-product of electricity production. It is important to note that the plutonium produced as a by-product in a nuclear power reactor is created in its many isotopic forms, including Pu-239, Pu-240, Pu-241, and Pu-242. This is known as “reactor-grade” plutonium. In contrast, “weapons-grade” plutonium contains almost pure (over 90%) Pu-239. Plutonium-239 is created in a reactor that is specially designed and operated to produce Pu-239 from uranium.
The reactor at Arak is a heavy water reactor, which is the kind that produces Plutonium 239.
The reporter here hasn’t done her basic homework. The intent to build the Arak reactor is what shows that the Iranian nuclear program is not peaceful. You don’t produce Plutonium-239, weapons grade plutonium, by accident; you have to intend to. Writing about “medical research” and the nonexistent “nuclear fatwa” with no skepticism is not reporting. It is repeating talking points. It is Kerry, not his critics, who is “ill-informed,” but you won’t get that from the Washington Post.
On any objective level, this has been an awful week for the Secretary of State, but you wouldn’t get that from reading the news pages of the New York Times or Washington Post.
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The USA now looks up to France for strong, decisive leadership.
SMART POWER. FORWARD. OUI NOUS LE POUVONS!
Yeah, those French know how to do it.
“France is Not a Cash Cow”; Riots Over Ecotax Continue; Is Anyone Happy?
French farmers are still not happy even though French president Francois Hollande decided to roll back the “ecotax” on large trucks following riots last week. Riots continued on Saturday, after the announced rollbac
Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/11/france-is-not-cash-cow-riots-over.html#ioZ6phov5Hf1kQpZ.99
“Quickly! Quickly! To ze impregnable Maginot Line!”
“The feeling was that the Americans are much more eager to reach an agreement than the Iranians.”
That is most likely true, given that Barry desperately needs something to distract public (and media) attention from the disaster of his domestic policies, like Obamacare.
At one time, journalism consisted of presenting the facts. Now, the traditions of the great newspapermen, who once labored in support of the mission of the Free Press, have given way to the traditions of Josef Goebbels, the Ministry of Truth and Isvestia/Pravda.
“Accidentally” producing Plutonium 239 is like taking Ambien and “accidentally” robbing a bank: Democratic Fiction. “Accidentally” leaving out that fact is outright deception.
“Hey, Obama! How’s that ‘without preconditions’ working out for you?”
“Iran has said that its program is peaceful,” Kerry said. “The supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] says he has issued a fatwa, the highest form of Islamic prohibition against some activity, and he said that is to prohibit Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon. . . .
Sounds like Kerry is channeling Neville Chamberlain!
Let’s hope we can offer a Winston Churchill to the public soon.
Obama and the State Dept appear to have one goal:
Nuclear War in Our Time.
How in the name of G-d do people who support Gun Control oppose the control of Nuclear Weapons?
To a liberal, that makes sense. They call Tea Partiers terrorists. Go figure.
i’m no fan of kerry or the administration, but this dust up over iran and nukes is just graham/mccain hawkish hyperbole. pat buccanan has published many articles disproving this ruddish.
I’m sorry. Obamacare won’t help stupid or the mess you are making in Iran, John.
I am really surprised, though, that you didn’t offer the Iranians healthcare in exchange for them to stop building nuclear armament.
USA TODAY: White House Stands by Alleged Anti-Nuke Fatwa in Iran
President Obama’s claim that Iran is disposed toward ending its nuclear standoff because of a legal pronouncement by its leader may be a hoax, according to a Middle East research group.
Some critics warn that Iran’s offer to hold talks over its nuclear program is a ruse, to stall for time while it finishes up the fuel enrichment process for an atomic bomb. Others say Iran is also hoping to halt attempts by Congress to strengthen U.S. economic sanctions.
But President Obama welcomed Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s promise not to seek nuclear weapons and told reporters the negotiation offer was worth pursuing.
“I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution (because) Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” Obama told reporters.
But a Washington-based Middle East research group says there is no evidence such an edict exists.
“An exhaustive search of the various official websites of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei turned up no such fatwa, either on his fatwa website or on his personal website,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks and translates news and official reports from the region.
MEMRI says the fatwa was first mentioned by Sirius Naseri, an Iranian representative to a meeting of the U.N.’s nuclear agency in 2005. It was later mentioned in 2012, in an opinion piece in The Washington Post by Iran’s then-foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, and in Iran’s Mehr news agency by the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
But MEMRI says it appears the Iranians were not telling the truth, according to its president, Yigal Carmon.
“It’s a whole campaign,” Carmon said. “They cannot deliver anything real, so they deliver a story about the fatwa but they don’t really have it.”
Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council, said the president’s comment stands. When asked why the White House believes the fatwa exists, Hayden declined to comment.
Former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in 2012 that she discussed the fatwa with experts and religious scholars and with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he’d visited Iran.
Khamenei has said multiple times since 2003 that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic, according to National Public Radio. But the United States and others say Iran is producing far more enriched uranium than is needed for anything other than the making of a bomb.
Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says the fact that the fatwa was never written down is irrelevant because Islam is a religion where oral rulings can be more important than written ones…
“Stupid is as stupid does”. Gump.
John Kerry is another great contrivance: a brainless poser, liar, and a fraudster — worse, he has betrayed his country since the day he returned from his show biz stunt in Vietnam.
As Secretary of State, he’s as a pathetic a failure as Hillary linton was as Secretary of Inebriation. However, as Secretary of Stupid, he’s a roaring success.
Of course he’s not the only fraudster in this administration or in the Democrat party.