State Dept Downplays Kissinger/Schultz Op-Ed as 'A Lot of Big Words and Big Thoughts'

April 8, 2015

On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called an op-ed by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz on the Iran negotiations "a lot of big words and big thoughts."

Kissinger and Schultz, who served under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, said the strategy Obama has pursued is futile and dangerous.

"Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony," the column said.

Harf sparred with AP reporter Matt Lee, interrupting him several times as he tried to get a reaction to the op-ed from the State Department.

"Really, you don’t think it’s nuanced?" Harf asked Lee.

"Is there a question or are you just commenting?" Harf replied. "I’m not going to go line by line."

The Obama administration has repeatedly challenged critics of the deal to offer an alternative. This response has been used to rebut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Republicans, foreign leaders, and even some from his own party.

"I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives. I heard a lot of–sort of a lot of big words and big thoughts in that piece, and certainly there is a place for that. But I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives about what they would do differently," Harf said.

The same administration that asked questioners for their own solutions insisted that there are only three options in dealing with Iran: To bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, leading to war, to negotiate a deal with Iran that will cap their enrichment capabilities, or to increase sanctions on Iran in hopes it will force them to accept a better deal.

The administration has said their parameters are the only way to avoid another major war in the Middle East and worsen the chaotic environment in the region. Kissinger and Schultz disagreed.

"Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms," the column said.

"History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves."