Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By LEE SMITH
Two public opinion polls released last week show that the American public is skeptical of the Obama administration’s interim agreement with Iran concerning the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program. Further, the surveys show that Americans by a large majority mistrust the mullahs and, as much as they’d like a negotiated settlement, believe that it’s unlikely. In other words, the broad American mainstream is more judicious and more sensible than elite liberal opinion, which is still caught up in its Rouhani-fever-induced fantasies of a “historical reconciliation” with a state sponsor of terror that has been targeting America, our interests, and our allies for 35 years.
Just as telling, the latest polls push back against the conceit that in the wake of two wars, Americans—Republicans, Democrats, and independents—no longer care about the larger world around them, especially not the Middle East. As it turns out, the American people are not isolationists, nor are they “war-weary,” as President Obama has described them. Rather, it seems that they’re wary of their leaders, and of the yawning gap between the White House’s public posture and its real intentions. These polls show that the public has taken an accurate accounting of the world, and identified the issue that most troubles us and threatens the security of our allies—Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
On December 9, Pew Research Center and USA Today released the results of a poll conducted between December 3 and 8 concerning the November 24 interim agreement struck at Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.N. Security Council members plus Germany). Their survey showed that 43 percent disapprove of the agreement, with 32 percent approving. Republicans disapprove by 58 to 14 percent while only half of the Democrats polled approve of Obama’s deal and 27 percent signaled disapproval. A large majority of respondents, 62 percent, say that the regime in Tehran is not serious about addressing international concerns over its nuclear enrichment program.
Another survey taken shortly after the Geneva deal also found a U.S. public deeply skeptical of Iranian intentions. Conducted by Luntz Global on behalf of al-Masdar.net and TheTower.org—two websites run by The Israel Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit—the poll shows 84 percent of Americans (96 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats) believe Iran is using negotiations to stall as it continues to advance its nuclear weapons development. Only 16 percent think the regime is negotiating in good faith and will eventually give up its nuclear weapons project.
The Masdar/Tower poll also gives evidence of broad opposition to the White House’s negotiating position and tactics. While Secretary of State John Kerry admitted last week that the final deal would likely allow Iran some limited ability to continue to enrich uranium, 86 percent polled believe Iran should not be allowed to enrich at all. Further, even as the administration has relieved some sanctions and is pushing back against congressional efforts to impose a further round of sanctions, 77 percent disagree with the White House and argue that more sanctions and additional financial pressure are the best way to get the regime to abandon its nuclear efforts. In what may be even worse news for the White House, and augur trouble in next year’s midterm elections for its allies, a majority of Democrats (77 percent) as well as Republicans (96 percent) say they’d rather vote for a senator who approves new sanctions than one who doesn’t.
It’s true of course that all polls need to be taken in a broader perspective, and these two come on the heels of surveys that seemed to show support for the interim agreement. For instance, a Hart Research Associates poll also conducted after Geneva showed that 63 percent favor the deal while only 24 percent oppose it, purportedly after the terms of the agreement had been explained to respondents. The problem is that Hart’s pollsters did not explain the deal accurately. Geneva does not require the Iranians to freeze their nuclear program, as the pollsters said; nor does it neutralize Iran’s current stockpile. While it’s true that, as the Hart poll explains, most economic sanctions are for the moment left in place, the effect of Geneva is to unravel the sanctions regime, as international corporations are now lining up to do business with Tehran. In this sense, the pollster’s prompt was incomplete. In another sense, it was plain wrong. As Haaretz reported last week, the White House has admitted to Israeli officials that its estimate that Iran would receive $7 billion in immediate relief was way too low; the real figure is much closer to Israel’s original assessment of $20 billion. That is to say, the relief was not, as the Hart pollsters suggest, modest.
11:55 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By GARY SCHMITT
Absolute coherence when it comes foreign policy is a rare thing. International relations will forever be a mix of principles, interests, circumstances, and necessities. But recognition of that fact doesn’t mean one has to jump to the opposite conclusion that foreign policy is simply a grab bag of decisions, lacking any coherence whatsoever. But, more and more, this appears to be the case when it comes to the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia.
2:46 PM, Nov 26, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry today thanked rapper Ludacris for helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan:
But interim deal with Iran puts the White House and its traditional Middle East allies in opposing camps.2:52 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of the interim deal that the White House signed with Iran Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the Sunday talk shows that nothing has changed, not with the American position in the Middle East, or with the U.S. alliance system in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is screaming his head off, but Israel has nothing to worry about says Kerry.
11:16 AM, Nov 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that "Syria welcomes Geneva agreement between Iran and P5+1 countries." SANA is an organ of the Syrian regime.
"An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that Syria welcomes the agreement which was struck in Geneva between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 countries," reads the report from the propaganda machine.
4:10 PM, Nov 19, 2013 • By KEN JENSEN
Just when you were getting used to U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, here comes our formal withdrawal from the Western Hemisphere. Yesterday, November 18, Secretary of State Kerry repudiated the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to the Inter-American Dialogue. Here's what he said:
1:44 PM, Nov 19, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry is calling the attacks against the Iranian embassy in Lebanon today "terrorist bombings." And the U.S. secretary of state is condeming the action.
Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
John Forbes Kerry is one of those upper-middle-class East Coast types of estimable lineage and impeccable credentials (St. Paul’s, Yale, U.S. Navy) whose tribal habits were the subject of the late sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (The Protestant -Establishment, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, etc.). Baltzell popularized the term WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)—-although Kerry is Roman Catholic, not Protestant—and explored the historic WASP ascendancy in American business, education, cultural institutions, and government.
1:37 PM, Nov 12, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
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.
3:36 PM, Nov 11, 2013 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Over a century ago George Santayana wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
He might have had John Kerry and Wendy Sherman in mind.
France's show of courage at Geneva may only delay the inevitable.3:05 PM, Nov 11, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
So the Obama administration is, after all, capable of tough, bull-necked diplomacy. These guys go for the jugular—for them diplomacy is a blood sport where anything is licit so long as victory is the endgame. Too bad the White House deploys those skills not against U.S. adversaries but against allies like Israel and France.
12:22 PM, Nov 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a statement released today, Senator Jim Risch says he's trouble Secretary Kerry is rushing the United States into a deal with Iran.
"I am deeply troubled that Secretary Kerry would rush to Geneva to enter into a deal with the Iranians, which by all accounts is temporary, incomplete, and a bad deal," reads Risch's statement. "The idea of a temporary deal is a broken record we have listened to before.
1:14 PM, Oct 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A week before the government shutdown began, the State Department awarded a $130 million contract to design and build a new embassy compound in the city of NouakChott in the West African nation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which lies between Mali and the Atlantic Ocean. The contract went to Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, after having asked for bids in December 2011:
12:12 PM, Oct 7, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Just a week before the government shutdown kicked in on October 1, the State Department awarded a five-year, maximum $5 million contract for custom handcrafted crystal stem and barware, according to a report in the Valley News, an online news site in Vermont (via Charlie Perkins).