WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday urged the Obama administration’s international and domestic critics to give negotiations with Iran over its contested nuclear program sufficient time and space to play out.
“Engagement is not surrender,” Hagel said at a “Defense One Summit,” sponsored by a Global Security Newswire partner publication. “It’s not appeasement. And engagement is not negotiation.”
The Defense secretary said he “felt sorry for Secretary Kerry,” given the criticism that top U.S. diplomat John Kerry has received for not having clinched an Iran deal in Geneva last week along with his “P-5+1” partners. The multinational talks are aimed at preventing Tehran from gaining an ability to build nuclear arms in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Iran is discussing that possibility, under the stewardship of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, along with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and United States — plus Germany.
Hagel counseled more patience, suggesting that negotiations actually had yet to begin and saying it was unrealistic that they would bear fruit immediately.
“Wait a minute! We’ve been literally at some kind of an informal, unofficial war with Iran since 1979,” he said. “Does anybody really think that we’re all going to get together [with] the P-5+1 for a week, and come out of that deal with some tidy little agreement?”
Hagel added that all parties involved have “political issues” to contend with. “This is going to take time, if we’re going to be able to move somewhere,” he said.
“At the same time, you always keep a ready, capable military that is second to none in the world” as leverage in the talks, Hagel said. He added that recent success in persuading Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal was due in large part to the “real, live threat of military force against Syria.”
The Obama administration has taken sharp criticism from Israeli leaders for an alleged willingness to make deep concessions to Tehran on lifting sanctions and allowing continued uranium-enrichment in the Persian Gulf nation.
Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers in both chambers are pursuing legislation to impose new Iran sanctions in hopes of forcing a deal that is stricter on Tehran. Kerry and other administration leaders have warned, however, that any such measures could spoil a potentially fleeting opportunity for an agreement that would rein in Iran’s nuclear effort.
Hagel called Iran “a very dangerous, lethal, state sponsor of terrorism” that causes “tremendous trouble all over the Middle East, for us [and] for a lot of nations.”
However, he said, “if we can move toward some common interest, to move to some higher ground, to some possible — potential — resolution to a problem, aren’t we smarter to do that?”
What We're Following See More »
Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.
"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.
Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."