John Kerry brought it upon himself. Testifying before a House committee on Wednesday the Secretary of State explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceptions on the Iranian nukes should not be trusted because, after all, he supported the war on Iraq. Of course Kerry conveniently forgot the fact that, as a Senator, he voted for the Iraqi war resolution as well.
One member of the press who picked up on that was the Matt Lee of the Associated Press who reminded State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki of that troubling reality. In response, Psaki declared — somewhat remarkably — that Kerry just wanted to show that no one was infallible.
At was at this point that Lee delivered the death blow, retorting:
Well, so if no one is infallible, how is it possible that Prime Minister Netanyahu here in his opposition to a potential Iran deal is wrong and you guys are all right?
The transcript and video of the back-and-forth follows:
Lee: Yesterday when he was testifying on the Hill, the Secretary questioned Prime Minister Netanyahu’s judgment about his opposition to a potential Iran deal, and one of the reasons why he cited for questioning it was because the prime minister – before he was prime minister in his current iteration – was supportive of the 2003 Iraq war. And in fact – well, he just said supported it and vocally – vocal – was a vocal supporter of it. And I’m wondering if you can explain a bit more about what he meant since there were a lot of people, including himself at one point, who were supporters of that war, and why this makes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s judgment suspect and does not make anyone else’s judgment suspect.
Ms. Psaki: Well, the Secretary was simply stating the fact that as has been recorded, and in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own words, that he was a strong supporter of the Iraq war. He raised this to make the point that no one is infallible, including himself too, and that it’s important to approach international challenges with an open mind and with all of the options in mind. I think I wouldn’t compare, though, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strong and vocal support for the Iraq war, and I would point you to the fact that the Secretary himself at the time also spoke out quite a bit about the path that the current – the administration at the time took and his opposition to many of those actions. So I wouldn’t put them in the exact same category. But regardless of that, his point was about where we are with the Iran negotiations, and that we have to look at all of the options, look at all of the information that’s available, to – and have an open mind about how to approach this. And that’s what he’s asking from the prime minister.
Lee: Okay. Well, but you do understand why there are people who can’t really understand why he would use that, at least? I mean, I’m sure that there may be other things that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been wrong about, if – what —
Psaki: He was making more of a forward-looking comment —
Lee: Does it have to do —
Psaki: — about looking ahead to what we’re debating and what we’re discussing, and that was the point he was making.
Lee: And I suppose – I guess it is a relief that he’s willing to concede that no one is infallible, including himself. Does that —
Ms. Psaki: That includes – that is true, right? Even all of us.
Lee: Does that include the Pope?
Lee: Does that include the President?
Lee: Or the Pope?
Ms. Psaki: No one is infallible, Matt. I think that’s true.
Lee: But – so, okay. Well, so if no one is infallible, how is it possible that Prime Minister Netanyahu here in his opposition to a potential Iran deal is wrong and you guys are all right?
Psaki: What – the point the —
Lee: There is a – is there not a potential —
Psaki: Let me be —
Lee: — that you guys are wrong about this?
Psaki: The point the Secretary was making is that as we look to the Iran deal, let’s look at what the components are, let’s look at what the final details are, let’s look at whether or not it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, which we all agree is in the interests of Israel, it’s in the interests of the global community. Let’s not make a prior judgment.
Lee: But it’s the – but what is being opposed here is not that. You set that up as something that – as what is being – what the opposition is for.
Psaki: I don’t think most would argue —
Lee: The opposition isn’t for that —
Psaki: — that there is an effort to prejudge an outcome when the details are not yet known.
Lee: Well, but it’s the approach that the prime minister has an issue with, not the goal that you both – that I think he would say that you share with him, which is to prevent Iran from —
Psaki: And we’ve said we have a disagreement on that.
Lee: But he says that – but he says – yeah, but he says that this is not the way to do that. And if you’re admitting that no one is infallible, or if that’s what the Secretary meant to say, and citing specifically Prime Minister Netanyahu and not any of the other people who perhaps didn’t support the Iraq war but are still opposed to the Iran nuclear —
Psaki: Well, we look forward to hearing what the alternative is, then. We haven’t seen a proposal on that front, Matt.
Cross-posted at The Lid