John Kerry’s Flying Circus
January 20, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield 24 Comments
lkOn the State Department website there is a section titled “Travels with the Secretary” that lists all the places that the Secretary of State has been to. In an atmosphere where Hillary Clinton received the Liberty Medal because she “traveled to more countries than any other Secretary of State” mileage is almost as good as accomplishment… at least to the latest senator to squat in the Truman Building.
Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry may not be getting anything done, but they do have a lot of hotel bills, souvenirs and snapshots to show for it.
John Kerry has traveled to 39 countries over 144 days for 312,927 miles with a total flight time of 678.56 hours. That would be impressive if he were going for a Guinness Book of World Records entry, instead of a diplomatic accomplishment.
In 2014, Kerry has already been everywhere from Jerusalem to Paris and from Kuwait City to Vatican City and from Saudi Arabia to Ireland for a total of 26,000 miles. Most of his time has been spent in the Middle East where warring factions are united in a fervent wish that he would go away.
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have all rejected his security proposal for the Jordan Valley. The Israeli Defense Minister reportedly told friends that he wished John Kerry would win a Nobel Prize and go away. Palestinian Arabs protested Kerry’s visit and an aide to President Abbas declared, “No Palestinian leader in his right mind would accept any of this.”
The media is talking up Kerry’s success, but the situation on the ground is worse than it was before the Secretary of State who put Russia in charge of resolving the Syrian Civil War got started. The Palestinian Authority is threatening a war against Israel in every forum and polls show that solid majorities on both sides have no confidence in the process.
Kerry egotistically tried sidelining actual talks between the parties and offering them his proposals instead. These negotiations have failed, not just for the usual reasons, but because they aren’t actual negotiations between two parties. Undaunted, Kerry is coming back with a framework for peace talks that no one but him wants or believes in, based on positions that neither party actually agrees on.
No doubt he’ll rack up a lot of extra miles and cadge a lot of free drinks on the way there and back.
The problem with the peace process is that it was never meant to produce peace. The entire political machinery of the Palestinian movement was set up as a bear trap for Israel and the United States. Both countries have spent two decades stuck in the bear trap and instead of trying to escape by chewing off a trapped limb, keep reviewing proposals to chew off their healthy limbs in order to appease the trapper.
The one thing that the Palestinian Authority can never do is agree to any true final status agreement without setting up an ongoing process for further agreements. That would be opening the bear trap and since it is the bear trap, it would no longer have a reason to exist. The PLO, in all its forms, was a manufactured insurgency by the USSR and its Arab allies to tie down Israel and the United States.
Regardless of how much territory the Palestinian Authority received in a final status agreement, it would have to agree to give up on some part of Israel. And that would be a “betrayal” of the cause that would end its usefulness to its backers and its support among its own people allowing Hamas to take over.
The Palestinian Authority wants to continue the status quo. It might declare statehood if that will mean more foreign aid, because it already is the world’s welfare state, but it will never agree to peace. Its only negotiating cards are terrorism and peace, if it ever traded terrorism for peace; it would have no more cards to play and no way to cadge billions of dollars in international aid without returning to terrorism.
Abbas is happy to go on negotiating forever and extracting more concessions from Israel at every session as long as he never has to make a final trade. Israel only wants a final negotiation because it is tired of offering endless concessions in exchange for nothing. The only way that Abbas knows how to dissuade Israel from final status negotiations is by escalating his demands into impossible territory.
Israel knows what Abbas is doing. Abbas knows what Israel is doing. And John Kerry has no idea what he’s doing rushing back and forth to try and make peace negotiations work that are designed to fail.
John Kerry has a long history of rushing into negotiations that he doesn’t understand. Kerry didn’t understand what was going on in Syria and got taken. He didn’t understand what was going on in Vietnam or in Nicaragua. Instead he eagerly picks the side to the left and begins moving proposals around with no clue as to what the motivations of either party are.
A good negotiator understands not just what the parties say they want, but what they really want. Unfortunately John Kerry has no ability to pick up on subtext. His international experience consists of traveling to other countries and taking absolutely everything that he is told at face value.
John Kerry really believes that the Russians are eager to partner with him even when they’re laughing at him to his face. He really believes that Assad and the Syrian rebels want to negotiate a solution. And he really believes that if he spends enough time in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the barriers will fall away.
Kerry never truly sees the world that he traverses at taxpayer expense, only the awards and plaudits waiting for him once he resolves all of its problems. All his life, he has been a player on his own stage, posturing in a small variety of roles, from Vietnam veteran, to peace crusader, back to Vietnam veteran and then back to peace crusader, from medal hurler to Nobel winner in the theater of his own mind.
Diplomacy for Kerry, like statesmanship and legislating, is a performance. Not only doesn’t he know how to do it, but he doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know how to do it. The same misplaced confidence that got him from telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States military was as bad as the armies of Genghis Khan to sitting on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is moving him around the world with a furrowed brow full of Botox and nothing inside it but a Tom Collins and visions of an elderly Norwegian handing him the Peace Prize that he believes has been rightfully his since 1971.http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/john-kerrys-flying-circus/