Commentary Magazine


Kouchner Warns Obama

In late October, Emanuele pointed out that French President Nicholas Sarkozy criticized Barack Obama’s talk-intensive approach to Iran as “utterly immature.” The French government may be taking a more cautious tone these days in its criticism of our President-elect, but the message is the same. Now French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warns:

“We have negotiated at great length. People came to France, we sent people to Iran, we met them, and unfortunately this dialogue produced nothing. And so, one must be careful.”

[. . .]

Kouchner said his concern is that direct talks between Washington and Tehran could hurt the unity of the major powers that presented the offers to Iran and have imposed sanctions against it – France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China.

It’s as good a time as any to wonder if Obama’s slide from far-Left fantasist to center-Left pragmatist extends past domestic concerns and into foreign policy. Obama’s recent appointments, and his camp’s calculated leaks, reveal a political maturity that wasn’t there for the majority of the campaign season. Taken in concert with his multiple attempts at denying he’d meet unconditionally with Tehran, Obama’s post-election posturing gives one reason to hope (provided Obama is done with “hope”) that attempts at blindly searching for common ground with our sworn enemies will never materialize.

There is, after all, common ground with our allies to think about. And as Kouchner more or less makes clear, disrupting even the woefully ineffective international sanctions against Iran would truly constitute “cowboy diplomacy.”