Looking at John Kerry’s Iran diplomacy lately creates the impression that he is desperate for a classic photo-op. What he probably has in mind one of those events where you get your picture taken with some dictator who fights wars by proxy and sponsors terrorist groups. You get to hold a piece of paper in the air and say “Now we have peace in our time.” John Kerry is desperate to be hailed as a peace maker, and to push through a deal with Iran in which sanctions will be lifted in exchange for some cosmetic coverup of their nuclear ambitions. In the short run, such agreements look like war was averted. Historically, the record is not as impressive.
Neville Chamberlain’s peace agreement with Hitler in 1938 turned out to have been just a short interlude before Hitler annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia and then went on to conquer the rest of Europe. Then there was the Paris peace talks, in which the US sat down with South Vietnam, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam was supposed to be a broad front of ethnic and political factions in South Vietnam. Most of these factions ended up being “reeducated” when the North Vietnamese ended up politically dominating South Vietnam.
For guerilla movements, negotiations are often simply an extension of armed struggle, a strategic interlude when weapons are silent. Even without nuclear considerations, Iran has been behind war in Lebanon, terror attacks in Argentina and efforts to foment unrest elsewhere in the world. John Kerry seems very comfortable with the Obama administration’s warm overtures to regimes that are demonstrably hostile to the US. Many Democrats and Republicans have serious reservations about lifting sanctions and normalising relations with Iran. given notable failures in US intelligence in the past, following John Kerry’s suggestion that Israel’s opinions be ignored seems very unwise. Iran has ambitions in Lebanon, Syria nad in the former Soviet Union that give many observers cause for concern. Also of great concern is Iran’s role in fomenting unrest among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority.
John Kerry does not strike the profile of a man with a serious understanding of Iran’s role in fomenting unrest, or the danger it could pose if it were to go nuclear. Senators who have met with him and been briefed by him recently were underwhelmed by his presentation. It seems highly unlikely that he will inspire confidence in America’s allies either.