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 »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."