Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with Matt Lauer for an interview on Today earlier, defending the deal with Iran — and telling Israel to cool their jets, almost literally. In doing so, Kerry managed to turn Israel into the aggressor and Iran into a passive actor who might somehow decide they need a bomb only if Israel attacked them. It’s a strange reversal, and one that confirms the impression that the Obama administration has become the lawyers for the mullahs (via Jeff Dunetz):
Lauer points out to Kerry that opposition to the Iran deal encompasses practically the whole Israeli political spectrum. Kerry responds by noting that a few Israelis support it — “the former head of Shin Bet … the former head of Mossad.” Kerry opts to ignore the fact that representatives of both major alliances in Israeli politics, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his erstwhile opponent in the last election Isaac Herzog, both strenuously rejected Kerry’s deal. Herzog, whom the Obama administration and Kerry in particular hoped would be a more pliable partner in US-Israeli relations, said that Kerry and Obama would “unleash a lion from its cage” with the deal, and that it would “affect our borders. and it will affect the safety of my children.”
When Lauer hinted that the deal puts us at odds with Israel if they chose to take action, Kerry responded that any such action would provide justification for Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons:
Lauer: Do you think because many in Israel including the prime minister are very uncomfortable with the deal that the it’s now making it more likely than two years ago, for example, that Israel might attempt some unilateral action — military or cyber attack against Iran?
Kerry: Well I think that would be an enormous mistake. A huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and the region, and I don’t think it’s necessary. The fact is we will have for 15 years a restraint on Iran that absolutely prevents it from developing a weapon. They can’t enrich beyond 3.67%. You can’t make a bomb at 3.67% they will have only 300 kilograms in a stockpile of enriched uranium. You can’t make a bomb with that. They would have inspections on a daily basis the in their facilities.
That assumes, of course, that the Iranians will never cheat on the agreement. That seems like a fair assumption, except if you take into consideration all of the times they’ve cheated on other agreements over the last 20+ years on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But other than that …
Lauer: If the Israelis are not convinced and they take action where would it leave us the? Would we support Israel? Would the treaty go up in smoke?
Kerry: If they bombed them, sure Matt. I presume Iran would have a reason to say this is why we need a bomb. And what Iran will decide to do is dig deeper because Israel doesn’t have the ability to stop, nor do we, unless we went to all out war and literally annihilated Iran which I don’t are hear people talking about. So if you proceed with a normal military operation, you are talking about rolling back the program for two to three years. Then what do you do? And if you did that what will Iran’s response be? They are likely to decide now you have proven why we need a bomb and they will dig deeper and go get it.
Er, what? Kerry seems to forget that it’s not Israel who has spent the last three decades-plus issuing threats to wipe Iran off the map. Iran’s mullahs and their handpicked politicians have repeatedly, even joyously, pledged to destroy Israel ever since the 1979 revolution put them in power. That’s been the purpose of their pursuit of nuclear weapons, along with imposing their own regional hegemony through nuclear terrorism on top of all the other forms of terrorism they have been employing since seizing power. In fact, Supreme Leader Ali Khameini codified the regime’s public posture on the “elimination of Israel” in November of last year, in what the Iranians must have thought would be taken as a sign of moderation.
Not surprisingly, the Israelis object to this idea, and they’re pretty sure that the nukes Iran has tried to build for two decades had Tel Aviv as their targets. They don’t want to wait until the missiles are in the air to ensure their survival. Their attempts to stop or slow down this nuclear pursuit aren’t why Iran thinks it needs the bomb, and to make that kind of statement is either willful obtuseness or astounding naïveté. Either way, it hardly makes “trust us” a great option for Israel — especially since Kerry and Obama refused to demand guarantees for Israel as part of the deal.
Kerry’s not going to be all alone in selling this crap-sandwich deal to the American public and Congress. Dave Weigel reports in the Washington Post that MoveOn will come out of mothballs to conduct protests at August town-hall meetings in favor of the deal, taking a page from 2009 Tea Party protests against ObamaCare. That comparison probably won’t last for long, though:
But MoveOn’s most ambitious goal is to turn the long August recess of 2015 into the summer of peace. The inspiration comes — just a little — from the other side. In 2009, the last Democratic Congress was almost brought to heel at town halls, a combination of grassroots activism and top-level strategizing by groups like Americans for Prosperity. Tea Party activists packed the once-sleepy meetings of their local representatives. Some viral videos made some voters into celebrities; others made congressmen into former congressmen. (The 60-day countdown for congressional action on the deal takes the recess into consideration; had the deal been finished earlier, the countdown would have lasted 30 days.) …
There are two new, stiff challenges for any effort like this. One: In 2009, members of Congress discovered that they did not like being yelled at and seeing the videos show up on TV. Since then, “tele-townhalls” and smaller, invite-only forums have become more popular, and traditional town halls have started to decrease. According to Legistorm, the 535 voting members of Congress held a total of 588 public meetings in the 2014 recess — down from an already paltry 792 the previous summer.
Problem two: MoveOn will have company. Galland framed its campaign as an answer an ongoing, expensive campaign by opponents of the deal. The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is supplementing one ad campaign that could cost as much as $20 million. But the bulk of AIPAC’s effort is one-on-one lobbying, especially among safe Democratic members of Congress who balk at casting votes “against Israel.” Last week, at its annual Washington conference, Christians United for Israel announced the creation of a political fund to move Congress against the deal.
Good luck with that. The more that Kerry talks about this deal, the worse it sounds. They might do better to form a barrier outside of State to keep Kerry quiet.
Update: I changed “justify” to “provide justification for” in both the headline and the post, which is more accurately what Kerry asserted.