I didn't know it was David Gregory's job to act as a mouthpiece for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that's exactly what the viewers were treated to this Sunday on Meet the Press, where he literally spent almost the entire interview with Secretary of State John Kerry badgering him about why he hadn't been properly deferential to Israel and their carping about the potential easing of sanctions on Iran.
Here's a portion of the fairly hostile interview with Kerry from the show this weekend:
DAVID GREGORY: So a couple of points there. You want them to stop their weapons program. Others, like the Israeli Prime Minister is saying, "No, they've got to dismantle their infrastructure before they get the kind of economic relief that is part of this deal."
JOHN KERRY: Well, I'm not sure that the Prime Minister, who I have great respect for, knows exactly what the amount, or the terms are going to be, because we haven't arrived at them all yet. That's what we're negotiating. And it is not a partial deal. Let me make that crystal clear as I have to the Prime Minister directly.
It is a first step in an effort that will lock the program in where it is today, in fact set it back, while one negotiates the full deal. And there will not be a relaxation of the pressure. Nobody has talked about the current architecture of sanctions. The pressure will remain. There will be, hopefully if this is arrived at, a means of absolutely guaranteeing that while the negotiation on the real end-game takes place, Iran's program is not going to continue, is not going to grow.
It seems to me that Israel is far safer if you make certain that Iran cannot continue the program. Now, every day that we don't have it, they're continuing it. So I think the American people, and most people in the world, want the President of the United States, with the awesome power that we have, to exhaust all the diplomatic remedies before we resort to the use of military force if we have to.
DAVID GREGORY: And nothing is--
JOHN KERRY: That option is not off the table. Nothing is off the table, David--
DAVID GREGORY: But here's the question. If the only reason they're coming to the table now is because they feel the economic pain of sanctions, it's not just the Israelis, it's the Saudis, it's Republicans in Congress who have said, "If that's the only reason they're coming to the table, what's the rush? Why not increase that economic pressure so you get not just a halt, but actually a dismantlement of the architecture, which is the goal of the presidency?"
JOHN KERRY: Because the President believes, as I do, that the pressure exists today, which is why they're willing to negotiate. I mean, look. I was there, and I voted for these sanctions. We voted for these sanctions in order to bring Iran to the negotiating table.
Now that they're there, you have to act in some good faith, and an effort to be able to move towards the goal you want to achieve. If, as their act of good faith, they freeze their program and allow us absolutely unprecedented access to inspection and do other things. Now, I'm not going to into the list. But if they do the things that we believe is necessary so that we can guarantee we know what is happening, and we can move it back while we negotiate the end game, it seems to me you've got to do something that indicates your good faith.
The president has made it clear, he will not reduce or change the overall core architecture of the oil sanctions, banking sections. Iran will still be under enormous pressure precisely to complete the task. So I think there's a lot of hype and an awful lot of speculation about what is going on here, when all that is happening is an effort through the sanctions Congress put in place to get negotiations, when those negotiations hopefully produce an actual result. And that's what we want to have to happen--
DAVID GREGORY: But as America's Chief Diplomat, are you being skeptical enough about a man who has been called a wolf in sheep's clothing, who wrote a book in which he talked about how they can continue work on their nuclear program while they gain confidence of the West, basically play games with the West? Are you being skeptical enough?
JOHN KERRY: David, some of the most serious and capable expert people in our government who have spent a lifetime dealing both with Iran, as well as with nuclear weapons and nuclear armament and proliferation are engaged in our negotiation. We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid.
I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests in our country, and of the globe, and particularly of our allies, like Israel, and Gulf states, and others in the region. We are absolutely determined that this would be a good deal, or there'll be no deal.
Now, that's why it's hard. That's why we didn't close the deal here in the last couple of days, because we are together, unified, pushing for things that we believe provide the guarantees that Israel and the rest of the world demand here. But one thing is clear, is that we're not going into a full deal and giving away something. We're talking about stopping their program where it is with enough guarantees to know that it is, in fact, stopped where it is, while we then negotiate the full measure of the deal with our allies, with our friends, with all of the interested parties advising at the table, consulting, and their interests well represented.
Anyone ever remember Dancin' Dave being this aggressive with members of the Bush administration before they decided to invade a couple of countries that were not a threat to us?
Here's more from Juan Cole on the negotiations: France Crashes the Geneva Party, Scuttles Iran Deal. Go read the whole thing, but he had some words of caution for France at the end of his post I thought I'd share here:
One thing France must keep in mind is that hawks in Washington actively want a war with Iran, and that if there is no agreement now, that war will be on the front burner if a Republican comes to power in 2017. Since the French opposed the Iraq War and have been traumatized by their participation in Afghanistan, presumably they don’t want to give the American Right such a luscious opportunity, which won’t in the end benefit French interests in the Middle East. Hollande may think he is standing up for France, but he might actually just be making himself subordinate to South Carolina and American arms dealers.