John Kerry did not start the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program; but, as National Journal's George Condon notes, nobody has thrown himself more into the talks and nobody's reputation has more riding on their outcome than the American secretary of State currently trying to hammer out a deal in Switzerland.
Even if he is able to claim success, Kerry—again—may not get the payoff he'd like. Given the complexity of the negotiations, the opposition of Israel's government, and the critics in Congress, the verdict almost certainly will be mixed.
"If these talks succeed, that is going to be his legacy," says Kenneth M. Pollack, a former Iran-Iraq analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and a senior staffer on President Clinton's National Security Council overseeing policy toward Iraq and Iran. "It would be an historic accord." As controversial as it would be in the United States and Israel and some Sunni Arab states, "everywhere else in the world, this is considered an unmitigated good."
If a deal is reached and Iran's nuclear program is blocked, Pollack added, "I think Kerry will get an enormous amount of credit for pulling it off. He will be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize. … He could go down in history books as being a monumentally important character, like Jimmy Carter with Camp David."
But, Pollack stressed, there is a flip side: "He could go down as Neville Chamberlain at Munich. Both are possible here."
Aaron David Miller, who spent two decades at the State Department working on the Middle East for presidents of both parties, thinks the accolades for Kerry will be restrained despite his strenuous efforts.
"Will it be his ticket into the secretary of State hall of fame? Absolutely not. He'd like to get in, to be like [Henry] Kissinger and [James] Baker. But to do that, I think he'd have to leave another legacy," likely from the broader Middle East peace process, said Miller, who is now vice president of the Wilson Center.
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Time will tell indeed... next check June 30th but we suspect we know the outcome.