Richard Grenell served as the spokesman for the last four U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations: Zalmay Khalilzad, John Bolton, John Danforth and John Negroponte.
I certainly don't expect the New York Times to admit that one of their greatest bogeymen turned out to be correct about Iran's nuclear game-playing. However, the Times Editorial Board did once say "John Bolton is right. Kofi Annan is wrong."
Unfortunately it wasn't about the Iran nuclear issue they were talking about - it was about his opposition to the UN's ineffective Human Rights Council.
Nevertheless, someone needs to say it now. John Bolton was right.
When the Obama Administration proclaimed victory on October 1st by announcing that a break-through had been reached in Geneva and that Iran had committed to shipping 2,600 pounds of fuel to Russia, expert Iran watchers were appropriately cynical. Bolton cautioned, yet again, that the Iranians had used some of the same diplomatic nuances they had been using for years to successfully buy more time to continue enriching uranium and fake cooperation with the international community.
Usually, the Europeans were the first to take the bait but this time the Obama Administration got hooked first. Bolton, however, was the first to stand up and call the Iranian pronouncement a sham - and he did it within hours of the announcement.
But as Obama officials were rushing to pat themselves on the back and the New York Times was proclaiming atop the paper "Iran Agrees to Send Enriched Uranium to Russia," Iranian officials were telling reporters that they had not committed to anything. The Iranians called it "an agreement in principle" - code words for "we'd like to but…"
The Times' reporter in Geneva, however, was taking what the Obama officials were saying and running wildly with the incredible news. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the Times had either not checked with Iranian officials or ignored their warnings in favor of the Obama Administration's good news. Roughly a month later, the Iranian official statements confirmed the fact that the Obama Administration had been duped. The Times subsequently inched its way back to reality through multiple follow-up stories that increasingly showed skepticism in the Victory claims culminating with October 30th's headline "Tehran Rejects Nuclear Accord."
Today, while the Iranians reprocess more fuel, the Obama team continues to compromise and offer even more incentives to them. No wonder Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is waiting - the deal keeps getting sweeter. President Obama has offered the Iranians more time, more sites to place their illegal fuel, more personal correspondence with the Ayatollah, more excuses as to what happened to the original deal they announced and no Chinese and Russian arm-twisting. The Obama team also keeps claiming that if Iran ships 2600 pounds of fuel out to Russia for re-processing then Iran will be unable to pose a nuclear threat for at least a year.
This often told claim is a dangerous calculation based on an assumption that Iran doesn't have more hidden fuel (we just found out about another reprocessing plant in September) and can't quickly convert what would remain if the plan had been accepted. Additionally, the low enriched uranium in question was produced in violation of UN Security Council resolutions so any deal to help Iran convert illegal fuel undermines Security Council credibility. The naivety of President Obama could be chalked up to hope and inexperience in foreign policy matters if it wasn't routinely and consistently happening.
Bolton should know. No American Ambassador has produced more Security Council Resolutions on the issue of Iran than John Bolton. Bolton was able to produce three UN Security Council resolutions on Iran, two with the increasing pressure of sanctions. The deadlines in the resolutions that Bolton insisted upon were kept mainly because he held his counterparts to their word.
When Iran tried to manipulate the process by asking for more time, more talks or giving empty and last minute commitments, Bolton enforced the deadlines. Bolton was incredibly patient and willing to have round the clock negotiations but in the end forced a vote of the Security Council to the dismay of the Europeans and the consternation of Russian and China. It's true that John Bolton would not win the most popular Ambassador award at the UN but being popular shouldn't be the priority.
I hope that the Obama team can now see that being popular at the UN doesn't get us support from the Europeans on sanctions resolutions or an affirmative vote from Russia and China. If it did, President Obama would have passed another Security Council Resolution on Iran, North Korea and Sudan by now. Obama is so popular in foreign countries that one begins to wonder who is happier. But being popular only means you aren't asking Countries to do anything different.
This month, the world is seeing the pressure turned down on Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. France's Foreign Minister has signaled their refusal to block shipments of refined fuel to Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called sanctions "counterproductive when there are talks underway" and China needs Iran's oil so badly that it not only is refusing to consider further sanctions but is cutting new energy deals with Iran.
Where is the Obama Administration's pressure on Iran to stop enriching uranium? Sadly, the Americans are getting hoodwinked by Iran and Europe is happy that they don't have to vote for more sanctions or enforce the ones that are in place now. While the President gives up our missile shield to Russia, relaxes financial restrictions on Cuba, allows North Korea to violate their signed agreements and breaks campaign promises on a Sudan no-fly zone, the world applauds the most popular American President in history.
And here at home, Fareed Zakaria continues to call for more American compromises and more talk while characterizing Conservatives as unwilling to talk. It isn't that Conservatives think speaking to Russia about Iran is bad, a claim Fareed Zakaria erroneously tries to tag Conservatives with, it's that giving something without getting something in return is foolish and naïve. Zakaria and the other elites blinded by Obama's global reset button want America to compromise and negotiate but fail to expect the same from the other side. Zakaria is that typical internationalist that views diplomatic success as merely sitting down to talk. Talking is the goal for them.
And if America needs to compromise in order to ensure that there are more talks, well, then so be it. Talking is success, right?
By Richard Grenell: