The PJ Tatler

Shultz: No 'Empty Threats' If You Want People to Trust Foreign Policy

George P. Shultz, the 94-year-old former secretary of State who served under President Reagan, didn’t just put Code Pink in its place at today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

He also slapped around the administration’s Iran policy, reminding lawmakers that the “first point to remember is Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

“It started right away when they took people in our embassy hostage for close to a year. One of the first acts also was to try to blow up the Grand Mosque in Mecca. They act directly. They act indirectly through Hezbollah. I think it’s probably a fair statement to say that if it weren’t for Hezbollah, Assad would not be in Syria right now. But Hezbollah is an Iranian entity and we shouldn’t kid ourselves about they. And they perpetrate terror. So that’s point number one about what they’re like,” said Shultz, who claimed he was “out of practice” by not having appeared before Congress for 25 years.

“Point number two, they are direct, they are developing ballistic missiles. They’re pretty advanced in that, as far as I can figure out. That’s a menacing military item. Number three, internally, there’s a lot to be desired in the way they run themselves. There are lots of political executions in Iran and it continues. And fourth, they’re trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

He stressed that there’s “no sensible explanation for the extent, the money, the talent they’ve devoted” to their nuclear program “other than that they want a nuclear weapon.”

“We have granted the right to enrich. Already they’ve pocketed that. And we’re just talking about how much. I think it’s also the case of what if — if you said to yourself, what is their agenda. Their agenda is to get rid of the sanctions. And they’re doing pretty well,” Shultz continued. “The sanctions are eroding. The more you kick the can down the road, the more the sanctions erode. And they’re not so easy to put back. I hear people talk about snap-back. There’s very little snap-back. If you’ve ever tried to get sanctions imposed on somebody, you know how hard it is. You’re trying to persuade people who are making a perfectly good living out of trade with somebody to stop doing it and it isn’t easy.”

Schultz underscored that he’s “very uneasy about the way our negotiations with Iran are going on.”

He added it’s “a very threatening situation” because Iran gives “every indication … that they don’t want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel.”

“Iran was the first state advocate of the Islamic jihad uprising that sweeps away national borders and bases foreign policy on the domination of the particular interpretation of religion,” former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 91, said at the same hearing. “Iranian foreign policy since the advent of the ayatollah regime has been a combination of the religious and imperial element and has asserted a dominant position towards neighboring states and toward states well-beyond it and, of course, with respect to the eradication of Israel.”

“…So when one speaks of political cooperation, the question is whether the political orientation of that regime has been altered. It cannot be judged alone by the nuclear agreement in which the removal of sanctions is a great Iranian interest.”

Shultz stressed that foreign policy can’t operate on “empty threats.”

“And you can translate that into when you say you’ll do something, do it. If you have that pattern of behavior, people trust you, they can deal with you. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, they can’t deal with you, they don’t trust you. So I think this has been a very important principle,” he said. “And then once you have all these things in place, negotiate, engage with people, don’t be afraid to engage with your adversaries, but do it on your agenda and from your strengths. So that’s the outline.”