Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor

"Big Words and Big Thoughts"

April 19, 2015 --

The Wall Street Journal, April 8, published an op-ed article by former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz on negotiations with Iran on that country's nuclear program.

This long critique, "The Iran Deal and Its Consequences," raised a number of serious questions in a dispassionate manner.

Asked for State Department reaction to the Kissinger-Shultz critique, acting department spokesperson Marie Harf remarked, April 9, that she "heard [sic] a lot of big words and big thoughts."

Subsequently, Ms. Harf came in for criticism, including from a family friend, for what appeared to be a breezy rejoinder.

The Kissinger-Shultz piece arguably contains a number of serious observations. Consider the following: "Cooperation is not an exercise in good feeling; it presupposes congruent definitions of stability."

LPR wonders: was Ms. Harf put off by the term "congruent?" This observation continued: "There exists no evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding."

Does the Obama administration contend that Washington and Tehran are close to reaching "congruent definitions of stability?"

Consider this, too, from Kissinger and Shultz: Washington "must develop a strategic doctrine" for the Middle East. Does the Obama administration contend that it has such a doctrine and is implementing it? KIssinger-Shultz added: "Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order."

A response from Tehran to this observation is indicated in reports, April; 14, that Iran is preparing Hezbollah for a major assault on Israel.

Kissinger and Shultz article point out that at this stage of the negotiations with Iran, the West, more than Iran, is constrained by "[t]he threat of war." They suggest that once sanctions are ended, the need for "coordinated international action" to reimpose sanctions...risks primarily isolating America, not Iran." And they point to difficulties of verification and enforcement.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini did not undermine the Kissinger-Schultz concerns when he was reported, April 9, to declare that sanctions must end when the nuclear agreement is signed, and that inspection of military sites will not be permitted.