"He is much better on a bike or a wave board than he is a negotiator..."
First a story from my past. I led a negotiation team to hammer out a deal for some "after market" business. We traveled to the now defunct Goodyear Aerospace which was located in Akron, Ohio. When we got there, we were directed to a huge and now vacant dirigible (blimp) hanger. At the very end of the hanger were two conference rooms. Our negotiation was to take place with the Goodyear Aerospace Team in one of those rooms.
The relationship between the two companies was testy at best. However, it was in our interest to get this deal. The negotiation stretched into the early evening. Finally, we hit a hard sticking point and my counterpart from Goodyear said he needed some time to "caucus" with his team. They left and never came back. Left us sitting in that huge, dark hanger all by ourselves. When we got back to the hotel, I called my boss at home and told him what happened. He told us to be on the first flight out in the morning. To paraphrase his words, "You can't deal with people you can't trust. No good deal could ever come from this."
I tell this story for one reason. No good deal can ever come out of a negotiation with Iran. Our President is just the opposite of the man I worked for during those negotiations. Our President should have pulled the team when the Iranians held war games and mocked up a ship to look like the Nimitz. Our President should have pulled the team with the Ayatollah shouted "Death to America". Our President should have pulled the team when the Iranians started to renege on previously agreed to points. But he did not.
A retired four star admiral was on the news this morning. When asked his opinion about the negotiations with Iran, he only said this: "Right now the United States is ready to buy a car without an engine and tires and hope it runs okay." Is that what these negotiations have come down to? Hoping for a "Hail Mary" pass? The admiral went on to say, "The Saudis, the Turks, and maybe others are poised and ready to get their own nuclear program if we allow this deal to ripen." In other words, the Iranians are ready to open a nuclear Pandora's Box, and we are about to give them the key.
So why in the world are we sitting at the table with nothing but a losing hand? It reminds me of the famous line, "We need to pass the bill so we know what is in it." This is nothing more than a pig in a poke. With a different Administration, a different negotiation team, there might be a much different strategy. For example, the opening position could be as follows: "Our friends in Iran. For the past 40 years you have proven you cannot be trusted. You will need some time to build trust again with the United States. Therefore, you will not be allowed to have a nuclear anything. No centrifuges, no uranium, no anything. If for the next 40 years you can prove you can be trusted, if you can stay away from starting proxy wars, then we will talk. Should you decide to go ahead with a nuclear program without our consent, we will come after you with everything we have."
That is how you set the table with people who are untrustworthy. You do not cow tow. You do not cave. You negotiate from a position of strength. As the admiral said, it appears we are ready to receive delivery of a car with no engine and no wheels.