Secretary of State John Kerry's "unorthodox" lead role in the negotiations with Iran is highly unusual, according to retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the National Security Agency and the CIA.
"Usually the secretary of state is the closer," Hayden said Monday on Newsmax TV's
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"You notice as we're getting into this final stretch here, other foreign ministers are now coming into the loop. Kerry's there all the time.
"It's hard for me to remember another time when a secretary of state cleared his desk to become the negotiator rather than the person above the negotiations. This is a matter of technique. Even in a job less important than this one, like at the CIA, you really wanted your staff to go in there, roll their sleeves up, and go bare knuckles with the other guy so you could stay above the fray and make those final demands or final concessions. We've reversed that in this case."
Getting a nuclear deal with Iran has become the "lodestar" of the Obama administration's foreign policy, according to Hayden, who said that every other conflict around the globe is "being organized" around it.
"Frankly, what we do or don't do in Yemen, do or don't do in Iraq, do or don't do in Syria, even how much we're willing to press Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine is a byproduct of this intense passion on the part of the president and Secretary Kerry to get this deal," he said.
It's never a good idea to be the person in the room most interested in reaching an accord, he added.
The mantra that no deal is better than a bad deal under which the White House is operating will soon be replaced by assertions by the administration that the U.S. got "the best possible deal" we could get, Hayden predicted.
"That's not the same thing as a good deal and we should never ever concede that in the debate that's going to be coming up," he said. "When we don't get something that we were led to believe all along we were expecting to get, the cover story is that we've arrived at a 'creative solution.'"
If the Iranians succeed in not having to ship their stockpile of uranium
to Russia, the U.S. should be "very suspicious," according to Hayden.
The Iranian negotiations are just one of many ways the U.S. has "really disturbed our Sunni allies," Hayden said.
"They've got a whole list of things that they feel we have pulled the rug out from under them," he said.
By allowing Iran to become an "industrial-strength nuclear state," it is laying the groundwork for a nuclear arms race.
"The Sunnis are going to want one of those for themselves too because the successful deal would give the Iranians so much that the Sunnis are now going to want to be competitive with it," he said. "I don't think this is going to cap this race and in fact, in its own way, it might inspire it."
Hayden also weighed in on the Iranian journalist
who has defected. His information should be carefully considered but also vetted, Hayden said.
"We use a lot of things to motivate sources, some of them are pretty noble like idealism, others are not, like ego and money and coercion and so on," he explained.
"Here's a fellow who seems to want to talk to us based upon an ideal which we share with him: freedom of the press. So again, it begins to establish the relationship you have to establish with a potential new source and again, coming out of arguing for the lack of press freedom, that's a pretty good first step on his part and ours."
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