James Taranto’s post yesterday about John Kerry’s remarks on the incipient deal with Iran:
This morning Goldberg published an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran. Here is the most alarming bit:
Kerry warned that if Congress rejects the Iran deal, it will confirm the anti-U.S. suspicions harbored by the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and eliminate any chance of a peaceful solution to the nuclear conundrum:
“The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them,” Kerry said. “This”—a congressional rejection—“will be the ultimate screwing.” He went on to argue that “the United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”
Goldberg’s headline is “John Kerry on the Risk of Congress ‘Screwing’ the Ayatollah.” We write for a family newspaper, so we went with something a bit more delicate.
To put this as politely as possible—and believe us, we’re straining to do so—Kerry’s tender concern for the ayatollah’s “dignity” is perverse. It’s true that a degree of mutual trust is necessary for a negotiation to succeed, but Kerry ignores the “mutual” part. His analysis is one-sided, and on the wrong side. The main question for Congress—as it should have been for the administration—is whether America can trust Iran.
That reminded me a good deal of a remark made by an Illinois official in response to a question about a proposal to eliminate tolls on Illinois expressways. His response was that he thought it was a bad idea “because then we couldn’t use iPass” (iPass is Illinois’s automatic toll payment system).
I read Sec. Kerry’s remarks a bit more kindly than Mr. Taranto does. I think that the phenomenon of government officials becoming so absorbed in the process of what they’re doing that they forget what they’re supposed to be accomplishing.
To reiterate my own position, I’m not opposed to the deal with the Iranians so much as puzzled by the self-contradictory nature of the arguments its proponents are making. I’d like to be convinced that it’s in the U. S.’s best interests rather than browbeaten into accepting it which appears to be President Obama’s strategy, not a particularly effective strategy in persuading me of anything let alone U. S. senators who are notoriously thin-skinned and jealous of their prerogatives.