Liberals tried to criminalize contacts with Russia. What’s the excuse for their hypocritical silence about the former secretary of state’s “strategizing” with Iran?
If there is one word that has widened the gap between Democrats and Republicans in the past 16 months, it is “collusion.” Many on the left believe that the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton. Proof of any such plotting has yet to be produced and may never surface (perhaps because it didn’t happen). We can hope the probe being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ultimately get to the bottom of the affair. The suspicion that Trump’s apparent soft spot for the Vladimir Putin regime is somehow linked to what we do know about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election has cast a shadow over his presidency in the eyes of his opponents.
But it’s clear that whatever the truth of the allegations about Trump, another prominent political figure has been colluding with a hostile foreign power. As the Boston Globe reported last week, former secretary of state John Kerry has been engaged in secret talks with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, as the two have “strategized” about how to preserve the nuclear deal the pair helped negotiate. If true — and Kerry has not only not denied this activity but has reportedly discussed it with members of Congress and others whom he hopes will assist him in thwarting the Trump administration’s apparent intent to either junk or revise the pact — this crosses an important line between legitimate advocacy and illegitimate efforts to sabotage the actions of a sitting U.S. government.
If allegations about that sort of behavior sound familiar, it’s because similar charges were lodged against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national-security adviser, who resigned after a few weeks in office because he lied about contacts with Russia. Flynn pled guilty to lying but will apparently not be prosecuted because of when he held talks with the Russians: after Trump’s election though before his inauguration, when the Obama administration was still in charge.
When news about Flynn’s contacts with Russia became public, a chorus of liberal pundits and talking heads as well as newspapers like the New York Times demanded that Flynn and perhaps presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner be charged under the 1799 Logan Act. That law states that unauthorized diplomacy with foreign powers by private individuals is a crime. The statute has almost never been enforced. In the not-so-distant past, many Americans have traveled overseas to meet and “strategize” with other nations.
In fact, John Kerry did so back in the 1970s when, after his service in the Vietnam War, he and other anti-war activists journeyed to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese, who were fighting the United States at the time. Richard Nixon was guilty of colluding with the South Vietnamese during the 1968 presidential campaign — he wanted them not to sign any peace agreement that might help the Democrats win the election.
Neither Nixon nor Kerry was charged under the Logan Act, and the odds are that federal prosecutors will be just as reluctant now as in the past to dust off that relic of the John Adams administration. But anyone who was outraged about Flynn’s activity, which was hardly unusual for a key member of an incoming administration, but remains silent about Kerry is not only hypocritical but winking at efforts to aid a hostile foreign power gain an advantage against an American government that is rightly concerned about its criminal behavior and intentions.
Of course, there is nothing illegitimate about Americans’ wanting to preserve the deeply flawed nuclear deal. Obama-administration alumni have organized a group called Diplomacy Works to defend the agreement, and their efforts have received prominent and favorable play in the mainstream liberal media. Obama’s deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes once boasted about creating the “echo chamber” that helped him sell the Iran deal to a nation and a Congress that opposed it. Recreating that echo chamber has turned out to be child’s play.
But there is a difference between speaking up for a policy position and actively colluding with an enemy nation. Kerry may sincerely believe that he advanced the cause of peace by discarding all of the West’s economic leverage in exchange for a piece of paper that legitimized Iran’s nuclear program and ensured that it would eventually get a bomb while the country was enriched and empowered. Trump aims to end the Iranian nuclear threat by changing or scrapping the deal. Kerry’s campaign to torpedo his efforts has the effect of ensuring that Tehran won’t be held accountable for its terrorism and illegal missile production.
We may not be willing to jail someone who helps the very nation that Kerry’s own State Department labeled the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. But we should not hesitate to label Kerry’s collusion with Iran both immoral and dangerous.
Kerry also seems determined to let Iran hold on to one of his most egregious concessions in the negotiations, in which he ultimately discarded almost all of President Obama’s initial demands. Kerry is defending the sunset clauses that will allow restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to expire within a decade, making it inevitable that Tehran gets its weapon of mass destruction without the West being able to do a thing about it.
For a former secretary of state to play the role of consigliere to a tyrannical Islamist, anti-Semitic regime is a disgrace. That it is happening at a time when Iran’s occupation of Syria and aggressive behavior is raising the chances of war with Israel is all the more outrageous. That’s especially true since it was the bankrupt policies of Obama and Kerry that effectively enabled the Iranians and their allies to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime. That led to atrocities and to the continued use of chemical weapons, which Obama and Kerry also promised to stop. Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder that Zarif and the ayatollahs think of Kerry as a trusted friend.
The crickets about Kerry from Democrats who were outraged over Flynn is not only a sign of hypocrisy but also proof that their Trump derangement syndrome has caused them to lose touch with any sense of morality. There’s no point in calling for Kerry to be indicted under a Logan Act that is never enforced against anyone. But those who casually lobbed around terms like “treason” to describe Trump’s attitude toward Russia need to ask themselves why they aren’t offended by Kerry’s giving aid and comfort to a rogue nation like Iran. We may not be willing to jail someone who works to undermine his country’s government and helps the very nation that Kerry’s own State Department labeled the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. But we should not hesitate to label Kerry’s collusion with Iran both immoral and dangerous.