American Elephants


Marie Harf Strikes Again: “Sort of Big Words and Big Thoughts” of Kissinger and Shultz. by The Elephant's Child
April 9, 2015, 6:27 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

Former, and very distinguished. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz wrote a joint op-ed for the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  titled “The Iran Deal and Its Consequences: Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on it head.”

Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today. The threat of war now constrains the West more than Iran. 

I’m sure being a spokesperson for the State Department is a difficult job. They are expected to repeat the talking points issued and to support them, presumably without learning any contradictory facts, and to be able to handle any awkward questions from attending media people. So,in the natural course of things, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf was asked about the op-ed by the “deans of diplomacy.” She said she heard “a lot of sort of big words and big thoughts, but I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives about what they would do differently.”

Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites. The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment?”

“In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another.”

I wonder if Hart knew who the two former Secretaries were, and what they accomplished? “Big words and big thoughts?” The attendant reporters were clearly not impressed.


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