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The Six Points of Kissinger and Schultz’s Refutation of the Iran Deal

It’s no surprise that Marie Harf at the State Department sought Wednesday to dismiss the analysis by Henry Kissinger and George Schultz of the Iran deal as little more than “big words and big thoughts.” When you hear administration officials launch ad hominem attacks, you know it is because they are deeply threatened.

That’s because Kissinger and Scultz’s Wall Street Journal piece is the most thorough and damning evisceration of President Obama’s Iran arms deal you can find. And it’s been lodged by two of the foreign policy establishment’s wisest and most experienced hands, neither known for their partisan fervor.

I thought I’d take you through their argument, which you may not be able to access on the Wall Street Journal website. Because it’s a major statement about what may be the most important issue of our time.

Below, I’ve placed my own headlines above quotes from the piece to clarify their main points. There are six.

1. The deal permits a nuclear Iran

Negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years. The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.

2. Iran triumphed in the negotiations

While Iran treated the mere fact of its willingness to negotiate as a concession, the West has felt compelled to break every deadlock with a new proposal. In the process, the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon.

Ambiguities apply to the one-year window for a presumed Iranian breakout. Emerging at a relatively late stage in the negotiation, this concept replaced the previous baseline—that Iran might be permitted a technical capacity compatible with a plausible civilian nuclear program. Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites.

3. The agreement is probably unenforceable

The physical magnitude of the effort is daunting. Is the International Atomic Energy Agency technically, and in terms of human resources, up to so complex and vast an assignment? In a large country with multiple facilities and ample experience in nuclear concealment, violations will be inherently difficult to detect. Devising theoretical models of inspection is one thing. Enforcing compliance, week after week, despite competing international crises and domestic distractions, is another. Any report of a violation is likely to prompt debate over its significance—or even calls for new talks with Tehran to explore the issue.

Compounding the difficulty is the unlikelihood that breakout will be a clear-cut event. More likely it will occur, if it does, via the gradual accumulation of ambiguous evasions. When inevitable disagreements arise over the scope and intrusiveness of inspections, on what criteria are we prepared to insist and up to what point? If evidence is imperfect, who bears the burden of proof? Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action.

4. The deal result in nuclear proliferation

Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.

Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common, the state structure is under assault, and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?

Are the guarantees extended against the use of nuclear weapons—or against any military attack, conventional or nuclear? Is it the domination by Iran that we oppose or the method for achieving it?

5. An expansionist Iran will be newly empowered 

For some, the greatest value in an agreement lies in the prospect of an end, or at least a moderation, of Iran’s 3½ decades of militant hostility to the West and established international institutions, and an opportunity to draw Iran into an effort to stabilize the Middle East.  There exists no current evidence that Iran and the U.S. are remotely near such an understanding. Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives. Iran’s representatives (including its Supreme Leader) continue to profess a revolutionary anti-Western concept of international order; domestically, some senior Iranians describe nuclear negotiations as a form of jihad by other means.

The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran’s intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states. Iranian or Iranian client forces are now the pre-eminent military or political element in multiple Arab countries, operating beyond the control of national authorities. With the recent addition of Yemen as a battlefield, Tehran occupies positions along all of the Middle East’s strategic waterways and encircles archrival Saudi Arabia, an American ally.

6. The administration erred in de-linking the nuclear deal from other issues

Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran’s hegemonic efforts.

Some have argued that these concerns are secondary, since the nuclear deal is a way station toward the eventual domestic transformation of Iran. But what gives us the confidence that we will prove more astute at predicting Iran’s domestic course than Vietnam’s, Afghanistan’s, Iraq’s, Syria’s, Egypt’s or Libya’s?

Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony. They will increasingly look to create their own nuclear balances and, if necessary, call in other powers to sustain their integrity.

Nuclear arms must not be permitted to turn into conventional weapons. The passions of the region allied with weapons of mass destruction may impel deepening American involvement. If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role.


This is typical Obama. As Kissinger and Schultz point out, we have no strategy. No broad thinking has gone into this agreement. We just put a bandaid on the situation for ten years while strengthening our adversary, Iran, and destabilizing the region.

And we and our children will pay dearly for it.

43 thoughts on “The Six Points of Kissinger and Schultz’s Refutation of the Iran Deal”

  1. Quite simply put, Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Schultz are in a league of their own.
    Marie Hard is nothing more than an Obama mouthpiece/hack.

      1. No one who wears fake glasses to make themselves look more intellectual should be considered an authority on anything. Ever.

    1. When he surrounds himself with people like this,…he is the smartest person in the room.
      ( And that ain’t sayin’ much.)

      1. I’ve noticed that his administration is very non-threatening to his throne. Not impressed with any of them.

        I also hear, MO’s “staff” is even worse AND has a high turnover rate.

  2. Keith maybe if you send this version to MH she will get it. After all, that struggle with big words and big ideas is tough and she might be grateful.

      1. Agree. Thanks Keith.
        As I mentioned on a different thread, she owes them an apology. Even if she disagreed, she could have responded like an adult.

      2. Yes, “big” words like Liberty, the US Constitution”, Balance of Powers, Checks and Balances, the Bill of Rights, etc. Those are the words I want the government folks to know and understand and live by.

    1. By the way, when American troops were dying in the Middle East under President Reagan, exactly what was Sec. Schultz’s grand plan?

      And Sec. Kissinger’s grand, global plan after Viet Nam?

      What a bunch of crap they wrote.

  3. Well done Mr. Koffler.

    Perhaps Ms. Harf would understand the former secretaries if they would infuse their comments with,…’like, you know’, or, ‘you know what I mean’.

    “Big words and big thoughts”.
    Get a dictionary and a history book you muffin head.

  4. How ironic that Kissinger’s brilliant analysis is being summarily tossed out the window when, incredibly, Obama solicited his services in December to call Putin directly re the Ukraine mess. This was after Kerry cancelled his trip to Russia, realizing that he would get nowhere.

    It is not known whether or not Kissinger complied with Obama’s request.

    No deal is better than a bad deal when we have the (Choom) gang that can’t shoot straight. God help us all!

    1. Of course they would toss Kissingers analysis out the window.
      It does not comply with Obama’s current policies.

      The warnings are over the place that this ‘deal’ is dangerous.
      The Iranians are stating that there is no deal.

    1. You spent that time in school to be able to determine the difference between the fools and the charlatans from the people that are against them.

  5. Thank you for this outline Keith, it helps a lot.
    On desperate ground, fight: “if you fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; where as death is certain if you cling to your corner.” Sun-Tzu
    Unlike Lord Barack’s theory of “give in until you have nothing left.”

  6. I’m almost finished with GWB’s book on his Dad “41”. I wish it would never end.

    It’s part bio and part a deeper look into the Bush 1 administration and the people who were loyal to him. And diplomacy. He entertained foreign leaders all the time at Camp David and was reciprocated by being guests at their homes on his foreign travels.

    I highly recommend this book because it’s very inspiring and certainly makes Obama look bad in comparison. I think Cheney’s new book picks up from there :)

    1. Almost any president we’ever had looks good by comparison with the Termite-in-Chief. Even Jimmy Carter, who actually fostered the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, shows this clown up for the empty suit he is.

  7. Super “K” is 92, Harff might be 29. The fact that theses numbers are related is the only detail that connects the two. Marie should respect her elders.


  8. Point #6 should be point #1; Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Israel should all be used as leverage for Iran to avoid further, more stringent sanctions. Sanctions relief is their immediate goal. Make it contingent on verifiable renunciation of support for terrorist operations.

    But then we have self-absorbed adolescent intellects in charge, concerned more with personal “legacy” and superficial imagery than long lasting Middle East stability.

  9. Thanks for the breakdown on this article, Keith. Unfortunately, this is all way above Marie Barf’s (air)head.

    As you noted, the link above takes you to the WSJ article, but they won’t let us see the entire article. I’ve mentioned this before, but just Google the title and when you click the link from a Google search, the WSJ lets you in that way.

    When I Googled the title and subtitle, I was able to see the entire article. Just Google:

    The Iran Deal and Its Consequences
    Mixing shrewd diplomacy with defiance of U.N. resolutions, Iran has turned the negotiation on its head.

  10. And, right on cue, comes Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, amping up his trashing of the “framework” cobbled together by Obama and Kerry. Who could have see this coming? Answer: everybody. Anything to buy time to complete their nuclear bomb. Just a few more months. Here, from the Weekly Standard:

    “Earlier today, Khamenei broke his silence on the supposed “framework” the Obama administration has been trumpeting as the basis for a nuclear accord. Khamenei’s speech pulled the rug out from underneath the administration.”

    Khamenei accused the Obama administration of “lying” about the proposed terms, being “deceptive,” and having “devilish” intentions, according to multiple published accounts of his speech, as well as posts on his official Twitter feed.”

    1. Framework,…outline, been there done that.
      The ACA was nothing more than an outline, and you see what they have done with that.

      Khamenei accused the Obama administration of “lying” about the proposed terms, being “deceptive,” and having “devilish” intentions, according to multiple published accounts of his speech, as well as posts on his official Twitter feed.”

      Go figure.

      1. The question: is Obama in on this Iranian “outrage” about the “framework”? Is this part of some arrangement he has with Iran whereby the Iranian reaction was all agreed upon and planned? Why this could be so, I cannot figure out, but there are mighty dark forces behind all this, and the Congress has to dig in deeply to sort this mess all out. If they are capable of such a task.

  11. It is a mystery to me why the press even show up at these flying male cow feces in the fan gatherings. I guess the progressive media types just love to live the smell of it..We might get a straighter truer answer interviewing Charles Manson. And he is certifiably nuts..

  12. Obama is so disgusting,evil, anti-American, anti-Israel, hates religion, you name it, he’s it. And the Republicans do nothing, say nothing, should impeach him, Republicans worried about their big money and position, do not care about the USA or its Americans, along with the democrat/communist party. Drop dead Republicans, amazingly, you are no help in protecting our government, people, economy, safety, etc. etc. etc. No one will vote for Republicans and the democrat/ communists will rule for another 8 years, maybe longer because of Republicans doing nothing to save the country, all no better than the communists, greedy, in bed with the communists, you name it, The Republicans have let us down, they were voted in and they have voted themselves out because of fear, greed, selfishness, not a brave one among them to take this evil out of the White House. Remember Republicans its your fault when this country goes bust.

  13. All media talks themselves blue in the face about the evil in the White House but nobody does anything to stop them. All talk, no action. Everyone we voted for is a coward, greedy, goes along with the democrat/communists. Nobody will vote Republican ever after this let down by the Republican party! They are no better so whats the difference if Hillary gets in because of a fake fraud election. You’ll see, they won’t count the Military votes and she’ll get in, fraud and thanks to the Republicans who are just as disgusting.

  14. What’s the difference between Kissinger’s peace treaty meetings in Paris with North Vietnam and Obama/Kerry nuke treaty meetings in Lausanne with Iran? Both doomed to failure from the start.

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