John Kerry a 'Self-Deceiving Bumbler'?

In contrast to NYT attacks, Washington Post says critics of US position highlight 'troubling points' which must be addressed.

Gil Ronen ,

Washington Post
Washington Post

While the New York Times has attacked Israel's position regarding the P5+1 talks with Iran over its nuclear weapons program as "hysterical", the Washington Post came out in support of some of those same positions Tuesday. 

The Obama administration “could profitably spend the time before the next round of talks ensuring that whatever terms it puts forward for limiting Iranian nuclear capacity have broad support in Washington and among U.S. Allies,” the Post opined in an editorial.

The paper said Secretary of State John Kerry is being “reasonable” when he says that the sanctions relief being proposed, including the unfreezing of some Iranian assets, would not change legal mandates and could be quickly reversed.

It adds, though, that “the skeptics, who in Geneva seemed to include France’s foreign minister, made some troubling points about the specific terms on which the Obama administration appeared prepared to agree to. One concerned the new heavy water reactor: Iran wanted to continue its construction during negotiations. Since it’s hard to imagine a permanent settlement that allowed for the operation of the facility, the West should insist on a freeze.”

“The second doubt is about Iran’s demand that its 'right' to enrich uranium be acknowledged,” write the Post's editors. “While acceptance of a residual enrichment capacity may be a necessary element of any permanent settlement, this should be contingent on the regime’s acceptance of stringent controls, including a significant downsizing of its nuclear infrastructure. Since it has not yet agreed to such steps, Iran should not be granted the principle.”

“Any successful negotiation with Iran will require distasteful concessions to a regime whose domestic repression and external aggression are repugnant and a menace to U.S. allies. But a deal that decisively curbs its nuclear capacity is preferable to military action. The Obama administration is right to move forward — but it should work harder to align any deal with its goals and to bring Congress and allies on board.”

“A self-deceiving bumbler”

Jackson Diehl, the Post’s deputy editorial page editor, wrote a column in which he described what he said was “Kerry’s Magical Mystery Tour,” and called the Secretary of State “a self-deceiving bumbler.”

“Imagine a world in which the Middle East is not descending into carnage and chaos but is on the brink of a monumental series of breakthroughs,” wrote Diehl.

“By next spring, Iran’s nuclear program will be secured and Egypt will be a liberal democracy. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has stepped aside. And, not least, Israelis and Palestinians have settled on the terms for a Palestinian state. This is the world that John Kerry inhabited as he shuttled across the world last week: a fantastical realm created by his billowing vision of what he can accomplish as secretary of state.

“To those outside the Kerry bubble,” Diehl went on, “Egypt is ruled by a regime more repressive than any in decades, with a muzzled media and thousands of political prisoners. Syria is mired in an anarchic struggle whose most likely winners appear to be Assad and al-Qaeda , with neither inclined to negotiation. Israelis and Palestinians are further apart on the terms for a settlement than they were at the turn of the century. And the emerging conditions for a deal with Iran threaten to drive a wedge between the United States and some of its closest allies.

"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.”