It’s not been a good week for Secretary of State John Kerry. Savaged in a Jackson Diehl column for his vision of a “Middle East dream world,” Kerry went from one miscue to another.
First, he winds up in a scrape in Jerusalem when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu finds out that the American team negotiating with Iran has changed the terms of the offer. Kerry’s response was to lash out at Netanyahu and berate him for failing to make peace. Kerry hightailed it out of Israel and landed in Geneva ready to sign an agreement with the Iranians—only, America’s top diplomat hadn’t done his homework by clearing the “bracketed language” in the draft document with his own side. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, seeing that the Iranians were getting everything for nothing, wisely crashed the deal.
Now Kerry is traveling abroad tasked with explaining to American allies that Obama, in spite of what anyone may think, “will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.” As he explained to his hosts in Abu Dhabi yesterday: “That is a centerpiece of his foreign policy and he will not bluff. As he said to me point blank when I became Secretary of State, I asked him about it. He said, ‘I don’t bluff.’”
As evidence, Kerry cited Obama’s Syria policy—a very poor choice given that the Emiratis, like all of America’s Gulf Cooperation Council allies, took Obama’s turnaround on striking Syrian targets as proof that he does not keep his word. Perhaps Kerry understood that he’d chosen the wrong audience to sell snake oil because the hedged language, the convoluted structure, sounded eerily similar to his most famous gaffe.
“The President made a decision that he would go in and attack in Syria in order to hold [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad accountable to not use his chemical weapons,” Kerry said. “And before he had to finally pull that trigger or make that decision, he made his decision, but before he had to actually execute, we were able to strike an agreement to get all of the weapons out, which has actually goes further than would have achieved otherwise.”
Got that? Obama was for bombing Syria before he was against it.