Obama Negotiates


In his joint press conference today with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, President Obama commented on the state of negotiations with Iran, specifically on the issue of sanctions.  While most of the discussion has focused on the question of being able to reimpose sanctions, or abandoning them, or being able to reimpose them after abandoning them, this line caught my ear:

I would just make a general observation. That is that how sanction are, lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there is a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that. Part of John’s job and part of Iranian negotiators’ job and part of the P5+1’s job, is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.

Obama publicly said that, in part, the negotiations with Iran consist of an effort to get what we want, while letting the mullahs present some palatable line to their “body politic.”

In other words, he just told the Iranian people that their leaders are lying to them about the terms of the deal, in order to make the sale.

It’s no doubt true that part of a negotiation can be, under the right circumstances, when you hold the high cards and have been driving a hard bargain, to find some way of letting the other side save face.

None of those conditions obtains here. We’ve been getting rolled, and all Obama has just done with that comment is give the mullahs an excuse to pretend they’ve been backed into a corner where they have to drive a harder bargain.  He seems have mistaken conducting a seminar in foreign policy for actually conducting foreign policy.

As Mark Steyn likes to ask, “If he were on the other side, what would he be doing differently?”

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