Kerry faces a tough sell on foreign policy blunders

Kelly Sloan
Kelly Sloan

John Kerry spends an awful lot of time these days trying to sell the Obama administration’s latest foreign policy mistakes — the restoration of normal ties with communist Cuba and the deal they made with the Iranians. It’s a tough sell, and it doesn’t help that Kerry’s arguments flirt with incredulity.

Kerry said in an interview with National Public Radio that, yes, a future president or Congress could overturn the administration’s decisions to renew its official friendship with Castro’s prison island. “But I think it’d be a terrible mistake. … As time goes on, people will see the benefits that come from this policy.”

Just what people is he talking about? The Cuban political prisoners screaming in Raul Castro’s torture cells? The wretched Cuban citizens assured of continued life under the yoke of communism now that President Barack Obama has legitimized its survival? And for whom only the most naive and unschooled really believe will experience any benefit from trade with a strictly state-run economy?

Keeping on the topic of the Obama administration’s policy of rewarding bad behavior, Kerry next set about his even tougher task of defending the deal he just struck with Iran. He said that should Congress fail to approve the deal, “I’m telling you, the U.S. will have lost all credibility.”

Well, I’ll give him credit for having the chutzpah to say something like that. What does he think happened to U.S. credibility when he handed the Iranians carte blanche to build whatever kind of nuclear program they want? He might ask those countries that have the most to fear from this agreement — Israel and the Gulf states — what they think of American credibility at this point.

It didn’t end there. “We will not be in the hunt, and if we then decided to use military force (absent a deal), do you believe the United Nations will be with us? Do you think our European colleagues will support us? Not on your life.”

First of all, who gives a whit what the U.N. thinks? Well, yes, the Obama administration, since it went to the U.N. with the deal before seeing what the legislative branch of the American government had to say about it. But besides them, who? Two of the permanent members of the Security Council — Russia and China — have vested economic and strategic reasons to see sanctions end and Iran to grow in stature. (And by the way, the extensive diplomatic maneuvering that brought Russia, vitally, on board with sanctions is now rendered moot. How’s that for credibility?) As for the Europeans, most of whose defense is guaranteed by the United States anyway, who wants to bet that once someone points out that at least their southern reaches are within striking distance of the missiles that we just helped guarantee will be nuclear tipped in due course, that they may just take a bit of interest in their own survival, with or without Kerry’s admonitions?

Wait, there’s more. Kerry said if the deal were to fail “it will be a travesty, and Iran will begin enriching, claiming it is a right that they only gave up in the context of negotiations, but since negotiations are dead, they’re going to resume their rights.” Mr. Kerry, the Iranians are going to enrich anyway. Only under the deal, without the sanctions, they will have the resources to do so and to better hide the fact.

On and on it went. Kerry tried to feign toughness by saying that not only was he prepared to walk away from a deal, but that in fact he had at one point. “President Obama in almost every conversation would say, ‘Remember John, you can walk away.’ … And I did walk away. … So we had no compunctions about it whatsoever.”

So what? You walked right back.  And when you did, you gave Iran what it wanted just to have a deal, any deal. It’s not a bluff if you call yourself on it.

Look, I don’t fault Kerry for trying. But what he negotiated was an arrangement that accepts Iranian enrichment, concedes nuclear capability to Iran — while providing the ayatollah new financing for it — and establishes a verification system that is as impossible to implement as it is toothless. Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, and its neighbors will then demand, justifiably, the same capability.

Kerry can circumlocute all he wants. What he accomplished was to start a new arms race.