Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiations with the Iranians reminds me of similar U.S. negotiations with Russia at the end of World War II.
In July 1945, the efforts of newly appointed Secretary of State James Byrnes were criticized by George Kennan, the future architect of the successful Cold War containment policy of the 1950s. Kennan, who at that time was a rising star in the State Department, observed:
“Barnes is negotiating with no clear or fixed plan, with no definite objectives or limitations. His main purpose is to achieve an agreement. The realities behind the agreement, since they only concern (other countries) about whom he knows nothing, do not concern him. He wants an agreement for its political effects at home. The Russians know this. They will see that for this superficial success he pays a heavy price in the things that are real.”
Following these negotiations, Barnes left Moscow proud of what he had accomplished. Josepf Stalin was overjoyed. He had agreed to token concessions that in no way weakened his control over Eastern Europe while winning symbolic involvement in our occupation of Japan.
Does any of this sound familiar?