Secretary Kerry Weighs In

Just last week, the pagliacci at the head of America’s Department of State, John Kerry, gave an interview on the much-esteemed house organ of domestic propaganda, the “PBS NewsHour”. The entire interview was a farce of human reason, yet was mindlessly absorbed by millions of armchair Americans, 41 percent of whom cannot name the Vice President of the United States. If they cannot perform this simple act of civic sentience, how can they be expected to cut through the thick fog of propaganda that blankets American consciousness on a nightly basis?

They can’t. They can’t be expected to laugh uproariously when Secretary Kerry points a condemnatory finger at Tehran, blaming them for the mysterious instability in Yemen, and saying, with not the slightest trace of irony, that, “…the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized (italics mine).” Nor can they be expected to choke with incredulity when, in his next breath, Kerry says, “…or while people engage in overt warfare across lines — international boundaries of other countries.”

No, this is all too much to digest. We are blind to the irony. Blinkered by the hypocrisy. After all, the CIA has been arming al-Qaeda thugs in plain sight for several years now in Syria and Iraq, under the myopic eye of the American public, with hardly a murmur of protest. How compelling must be the White House spokespersons that tell us we are only arming “moderates.” We nod sagely from our couches: it is far better to be deposed and slaughtered by moderates than genuine radicals.

No, our blank faces register nary a twitch when Kerry accuses Iran of destabilizing its own neighborhood when it is the United States that has turned the entire region into a confused pastiche of tattered borders, despoiled sovereignties, roving refugees, makeshift graves, and tribal compounds. Evidently, in Kerry’s twisted beltway perspective, only the U.S. is authorized to ruin the region—a region where it doesn’t belong but has refused to vacate since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. From the arrogant diktats of British imperialists to the cynical coups and free-market experiments of imperial America, the Middle East has suffered ceaseless depredations at the hands of the West. One wonders how countries like Iran are even capable of sitting at the negotiating table and facing our cabal of inveterate cheats. Maybe they don’t read history. We certainly don’t.

History As Myth

For Kerry and his State Department lemmings, history is a blank slate on which future historians will pen a chronicle of plaudits to American power. We will be lauded as peacekeepers or, as President Obama noted in 2009, the exceptional nation that “…has underwritten global security for over six decades.”

Presently, the U.S. is stepping up weapons shipments to Saudi Arabia and establishing a “joint coordination planning cell” with Riyadh to help in the destruction of Yemeni rebels seeking redress for religious oppression and other injustices inflicted upon Yemenis by pro-Western governments in the capital of Sana (such as idly permitting unrelenting drone attacks by the U.S.). This is Obama’s, and by default, Kerry’s, idea of global security. To hurry arms to a brutal authoritarian dictatorship that wishes to violate the sovereignty of a neighboring nation in order to install a pro-Western government that mirrors its own regime. Thus far it has met with little success, destroying only civilian infrastructure, murdering just 500 civilians and uncounted Houthi rebels (soldiers are unpeople, duly fit for slaughter), but doing little to impede radiating Houthi control over the country.

This is quite surprising considering that Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama awarded the protest-crushing, female-silencing, citizen-beheading Saudi royals the largest weapons deal in the sordid history of U.S arms sales in 2010. Not to mention a colossal shipment of banned cluster munitions two years ago. Why exactly, one wants to ask, do the Saudis need more guns? Haven’t we supplied a sufficient arsenal with which to thwart populist uprisings and annihilate Shia calls for justice in the flashpoints of self-determination that dot the peninsula? One would think. But then there is always the possibility that the Kingdom might unspool itself back into the array of fiefdoms from which it first emerged.

The NPT Community

Later, deeply concerned interlocutor Judy Woodruff (a modest improvement on unblinking zombie Jim Lehrer) suggested the Iran deal was really about just delaying Tehran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. This question itself is so profuse with false assumptions that it would require an entire seminar to unpack. But Kerry breezily dismissed the query with his own priceless riposte, claiming that the deal represents “…a guarantee that for the next 15 to 20 years [Iran] won’t possibly be able to advance that program and then, when they become a more legitimate member of the non-proliferation community and subject to lifetime inspections and investigation, we will have accountability (italics mine).”

As a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran was determined to have concluded its nuclear weapons program in 2003, subsequently subjecting itself to the most rigorous and unnecessary inspection regime in the history of the IAEA. It was hectored and harrowed into this regime by the two leading nuclear threats to world peace: the United States and Israel. The former has openly violated the NPT by distributing nuclear formulas to India, both a non-signatory and serial provocateur in Kashmir, the lush territory it disputes with arch-rival Pakistan, another nuclear power that has the U.S. to thank for its status. The latter, America’s deputized aggressor Israel, is another non-signatory of the NPT and currently holds the dubious honor of being the single member of the Middle East opposed to the creation of a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, such as exists in Latin America and other saner parts of the planet.

Woodruff, masterfully emulating a paranoid neoconservative, continued to ask misinformed questions, one of which prompted the pagliacci to reply, “They have agreed to abide by what is called the additional protocol of the nonproliferation treaty. That protocol requires participating states to adhere to a higher standard and if they don’t, Judy, then the sanctions can, and will, come back.”

Interesting that the aforementioned U.S., violator of the NPT and the only country to actually use nuclear weapons, has refused to abide by the additional protocols it desperately wants applied to any nation it deems a regional rival.

In 2004 the U.S. adopted the Model Additional Protocol in a good-faith attempt to bring other NPT members on board. But they were of little consequence to the U.S. as it is a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) and thus held to less stringent standards than Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS). Nuclear states don’t have to comprehensively apply the safeguards to all of their sites. They can even except sites for reasons of national security. Non-Nuclear states have to make practically all of their facilities—even non-nuclear energy sites with the additional protocol—eligible for NPT safeguards.

But that’s not all. As soon as it pretended to adopt the protocols, the U.S. added two addendums to its adoption, a corollary of the NPT’s exemption for NWS members, called by the U.S. a National Security Exemption (NSE). The NSE lets the U.S. permit access to sites, activities, information, and additional locations, at its own discretion. A second addition limits the use of environmental sampling and the number of inspectors who can access a site.

Before Congress ratified this feckless edition of the additional protocol, it added a letter from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that stipulated that the NSE would be used with, ahem, some regularity. It also insisted that the President ensure that security and counterintelligence training will have been completed by the time any sites are declared to the IAEA.

Were Iran to attempt anything of the sort, the Lausanne negotiations would have instantly collapsed, additional sanctions would have been hysterically imposed, and both the U.S. and Israel would have begun issuing veiled threats (violating, in the process, both the NPT and the UN Charter). As it is, Iran has dealt with demands to “anytime, anywhere” access, air reconnaissance, access to military bases, and other invasive measures. Remember, when the U.S. was turning the vice grip on Iraq before attacking it more than a decade ago, it even requested unfettered access to Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace, which it later inhabited. Most of this while Hussein was frantically trying to negotiate a peace via any go-between he could find—including Syria, France, Egypt, Russia, and Germany. Aside from Iraq, it is also useful to contrast U.S. hyper-vigilant posture toward Iran with its laissez faire attitude toward Israel’s absurd “policy of deliberate ambiguity” regarding its WMD stockpile. Of course, it isn’t as though the Israeli arsenal is manned by some rabid paranoiac.

Buying Friends, Abetting Allies

Woodruff, at this point, has descended into a frothing neocon huff. She announces that cutting a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program is fraught with concerns (as opposed to the alternative, perhaps, of annihilating Iran’s nuclear sites and rendering swathes of Persia uninhabitable thanks to the not-so sanitary act of dropping thousand pound bombs on nuclear reactors). She clamors, “The U.S. is going to have to increasingly show its support for those in the region who fear Iran.” Kerry attempted a dignified and fulsome response, mumbling some well-rehearsed stock clichés about defending “friends and allies.” He might have simply shouted into Woodruff’s ear that the United States delivers $3B annually to Tel Aviv for its bi-annual slaughter of defenseless Palestinians. He might have hammered the table and reminded the world that he personally mails Egypt’s criminal President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi some $1.3B a year to fund mass trials of dissidents, fulfill numberless death sentences, and slaughter protestors. He might have flung his hands in the air and recalled the bombastic $10B deal the U.S. cut in 2013 with Israel, the Saudis, and the United Arab Emirates, providing even more aircraft, missiles and transport vehicles to these terribly fraught apartheid states and fanatical theocracies teetering on the edge of civilization. Finally, calming himself, he might have softly reiterated the $60B record-setting deal with the Saudis, the munitions of which are proving themselves admirably in their ability to liquidate both human quarry and entire municipalities across Yemen.

Finally, our lantern-jawed secretary closed the interview with a fatuity, claiming that Iran was flying supplies to the Houthis “every single week”, despite the fact that the Saudis have imposed a no-fly zone over the country that would have prevented this. No matter, there is little time to resolve contradictions when there are so many raging fires to extinguish on the ground across the oil-rich Middle East.

Perhaps Kerry should have ended the show by stating the obvious: we are executing a global campaign to disarm every potential rival via the effete and infinitely manipulable constructs of international law. As part of this campaign, Iraq was combed by inspectors and bombed by Western aircraft on a regular basis for more than a decade before having its defense systems torpedoed and its entire army disbanded. All this as a deliberate prelude to permitting the artificial nation-state to sink into anarchy. Syria had its chemical weapons stockpile destroyed on the farcical premise that it used them against citizens just as international observers entered the country. Libya had to have its air force vaporized, its government toppled, and its left-leaning president brutally murdered. And then—the coup de grace—Iran has had its 20 percent enriched uranium destroyed, its civilian nuclear program rolled back, and its nation set to by IAEA inspectors eyeballing every nuclear facility in search of the slightest discrepancy. Clearly, that 1979 revolution still burns brightly in the minds of Pentagon hardliners.

Fear not, Mrs. Woodruff, for it won’t be long before there aren’t any countries left in the Middle East capable of defending themselves. That is, aside from the vitiated autocrats and trigger-happy settlement builders we have authorized to arbitrate the bloodletting in the world’s most brutalized region.

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives in New York City and can be reached at

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire and Imperial Fictions, essay collections from between 2012-2017. He lives in New York City and can be reached at