Like a teacher who lavishes praise on an unruly student when he turns in his homework for once, Secretary of State John Kerry hopes his words will have a reforming effect on Iran.
Since the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal on January 16, Kerry has expressed "deep respect" for and given "enormous credit" to "our partners" in Tehran for their "seriousness of purpose," "professionalism," and "deep commitment" to peace and the brotherhood of man.
The Iranian leadership, Kerry said, wants to use the nuclear deal "as a departure point for something new."
Kerry has pointed to the Islamic Republic’s decision to unplug its centrifuges and ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia as evidence that we are witnessing the dawn of a new Iran. Iran took these steps in exchange for at least $50 billion plus sanctions relief on its top military commanders, financiers, and nuclear scientists.
"Iran has an opportunity here. We all have an opportunity here," Kerry said of the nuclear deal.
Kerry has also praised Iran’s decision to release five U.S. hostages and, separately, 10 U.S. sailors who were abducted shortly before President Obama’s final State of the Union address.
"The Supreme Leader went to the extraordinary lengths of actually apologizing yesterday. That’s very significant. And I hope people will recognize that," Kerry said in Davos.
Iran traded the five U.S. citizens for $1.7 billion (allegedly) and clemency for 21 Iranians who had been charged or convicted of violating sanctions, including several who provided assistance to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah. The sailors were released after they were disarmed and humiliated on film; their captors were given medals by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.
Kerry has had much less to say about Iran’s repeated provocations—actions that cast doubt on the hypothesis that in a few decades Iran will be integrated into the global community, its leaders jaunting to Switzerland for summits to solve regional problems when they’re not summering on Nantucket Island.
Since agreeing to the nuclear deal, Iran has escalated its military support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, tested a new generation of missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads to Israel, fired rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, trashed the embassy of a foreign power, and possibly kidnapped three American contractors working in Iraq, among other examples of neighborliness.
As for Iran’s continued hostile rhetoric, such as Khamenei’s statement that Israel will not exist in 25 years?
"They tell us they’re responding to our rhetoric," Kerry said.
But never his, he might have added.