In what seems to be a talking point in the script handed to all the players, the US has accused Iran of not being serious at the reopening of the JCPOA nuclear talks in Vienna. "What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "The Iranians have not been taking the negotiations seriously at this point," said CIA Director William Burns.
That’s a pretty funny accusation to make in a discussion of negotiations in which the US has already informed Iran that they refuse to guarantee that they will honor the agreement and its commitments as binding even for the duration of the term of the president who puts his signature on it. It’s pretty hard to act seriously when your interlocutor is acting like a clown.
It’s even funnier that the US is criticizing Iran when Blinken, asked during an interview about his pessimism about Iran taking the talks seriously admitted that it is the US’s fault that Iran even has to be back in these talks since "the decision to pull out of the agreement was a disastrous mistake."
Compounding the comedy is that, having admitted that the current crisis is America’s fault for unilaterally and illegally breaching the contract and leaving the deal, the US still refuses to remedy the breach by lifting the sanctions they illegally clamped back down on Iran. Instead, they continue down the path of further sanctions. Add to that that Biden could have remedied the crisis quickly, as he promised he would, but instead did nothing and left Iran waiting for months before restarting the negotiations.
And, if that’s not enough, here’s the punchline: Iran shouldn’t even have to be in Vienna in the first place. CIA Director Burns has verified once again that the CIA "doesn’t see any evidence that Iran’s Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has made a decision to move to weaponize." Iran isn’t being serious about negotiating to end the nuclear weapons program it doesn’t have.
Compounding the comedy is that Iran is very nearly the only country at the table that is not in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The five nuclear powers at the table are all in violation of their NPT commitment to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." In violation of that commitment, the US is planning to enhance and modernize its nuclear arsenal. The UK, too, is increasing, not decreasing its stockpile of nuclear warheads.
But it’s Iran that’s not taking all this seriously.
Vienna is not the only stop for the US foreign policy comedy. The next on the tour is China where, after years of admonishing Colin Kaepernick and a league of professional athletes who knelt on one knee during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in the US because sports should not be political, the US announced that they would boycott the Beijing Olympics because, it turns out, sports is political.
The protest, however, will not include the athletes or the events: it is a diplomatic boycott. The US will send all its athletes, it just won’t send any diplomatic representation.
The diplomatic gap in the stands will surely diminish the events and draw international attention to China’s offenses. China responded that the US has "written, directed and performed [a] farce." Israel gave a similar review to the American comedy, calling it "bizarre."
It would be very funny if it were not the warm up act for the second cold war.
The US has fanned out over the globe pressuring and persuading allies to intensify pressure on Russia over their plans to invade Ukraine. The pressure includes sending more lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Secretary of State Blinken says that the US has been "engaging with our closest allies and partners about a deeply shared concern that Russia is putting itself in a position for renewed aggression against Ukraine. And what we’ve been seeing in recent weeks is deeply, deeply concerning."
But the White House and the State Department only see what the eyes of their intelligence community shows them. And on December 6, CIA Director Burns announced that "We don’t know that Putin has made up his mind to use force." So, "U.S. intelligence agencies haven’t concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine."
In a replay of the Iran punchline, the CIA doesn’t have any evidence for the very thing they are arming the Ukraine against and for which they are aligning the world against Russia.
Again, it would be comical if it wasn’t the first act of the second cold war.
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.