Democrats Hold Secret Meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, along with several of his Senate Democrat colleagues, reportedly met secretly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured above) during the Munich Security Conference last week. The Federalist raised the question whether that "would mean Murphy had done the type of secret coordination with foreign leaders to potentially undermine the U.S. government that he accused Trump officials of doing as they prepared for Trump's administration."

Senator Murphy tweeted that he was simply engaging in a dialogue with Zarif, which he claimed was within Congress's authority as "a co-equal branch to the executive." While acknowledging for the record that "no one in Congress can negotiate with Zarif or carry official U.S. government messages," Murphy declared that "there is value in having a dialogue." He added, "It's dangerous not to talk to adversaries, esp amidst a cycle of escalation." That all depends on what Murphy and his cohorts had to say to the Iranian foreign minister behind closed doors.

According to Senator Murphy's own telling, he used his meeting with Zarif to urge Iranian action to control Iran's proxies in Iraq, release American citizens being unlawfully detained in Iran, and end the Houthi blockage of humanitarian aid in Yemen. That sounds innocent enough, if Murphy was telling the truth about everything that was said during his tête-à-tête with Zarif. But there is no reason to take Murphy's self-serving account as representing anywhere near a complete record of the meeting.

Let's see a full transcript or contemporaneous notes of the private discussions with Zarif, if any exist, along with a list of all Americans present. For example, did John Kerry participate? He was spotted walking in the vicinity of the conference site. What was he doing there in the first place? Kerry, let's remember, had previously conducted, while a private citizen, his own unauthorized shadow diplomacy with Zarif to try and keep the disastrous Obama administration nuclear deal with Iran alive.

In Senator Murphy's public remarks at the same Munich Security Conference where he held his private meeting with Zarif on the sidelines, Murphy made no bones about describing himself as a "critic" of President Trump's confrontational policies towards the Iranian regime. On certain key points, Murphy expressed views closer to the Iranian position than to the official position of the U.S. government. For example, Murphy criticized the Trump administration's taking sides with Saudi Arabia against the Iranian regime, even while conceding that the Iranian regime is considered a U.S. adversary while Saudi Arabia is considered an ally.

Thus, it is naïve to believe that Murphy and his fellow Democrats did not share, during their private discussion with Zarif, their serious misgivings about President Trump's dramatic reversal of the Obama administration's appeasement policies. Murphy has been one of his party's leading critics of President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the disastrous nuclear deal the Obama administration had negotiated with the Iranian regime and to impose harsh sanctions on the regime. Murphy has also sharply criticized President Trump's order to take out the blood-thirsty Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani as he was in Iraq planning further attacks against American citizens and facilities.

We need to know whether in fact Senator Murphy and other Americans sought to undermine the current U.S. foreign policy towards the Iranian enemy regime during their unauthorized private talks with its foreign minister. Murphy must either produce a full transcript or notes of the discussions, or testify in public as to everything that was said during the meeting.

One thing we do know for sure. Senator Murphy is clueless on how to deal with the Iranian regime. Following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, for example, which Murphy called "catastrophic," he asserted, "The damage has been done to the U.S. national security since the targeting of Qassem Soleimani. I don't think the administration gamed out how badly this would go for us." He added, "The president has gravely injured this nation's security around the world. He has made us a literal laughingstock."

The only laughingstocks are Murphy himself and the other critics of the Trump administration's tough stance against the escalating acts of aggression launched by the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime carefully calibrated its response to the killing of Qassem Soleimani to avoid any massive U.S. retaliation. Despite the usual bluster, it appears to be thinking more carefully before crossing one of President Trump's red lines again. Until the decisive strike killing its terrorist mastermind, the Iranian regime had been ramping up tensions directly and through its proxies led by Soleimani, resulting in the killing of an American contractor and the invasion of the U.S. embassy compound in Iraq. The regime was convinced by the behavior of past U.S. administrations that Soleimani would remain off limits. If appeasers like Senator Murphy had his way, the Iranian regime would have been right. Thanks to President Trump's decisive actions, the United States and its allies are more secure today against the aggressive designs of the Iranian regime.

President Trump's critics like to say that if he had only stuck with the nuclear deal and not backed the Iranian regime into a corner with severe economic sanctions, everything would have been just fine. They conveniently choose to forget the Iranian regime's seizure of two United States Navy patrol boats and 10 crew members in January 2016, which occurred shortly following the completion of the nuclear deal. After being photographed on their knees with their hands over their heads in violation of international law, the Americans were finally released with many thanks from then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Groveling was the Obama administration's way of conducting diplomacy with the Iranian regime, which exploited the Obama administration's ineptitude at every turn.

Aggressors take advantage of the weaknesses they perceive in their adversaries. This is what happened when the infamous Munich Pact with Adolf Hitler was signed in the very city where the annual Munich Security Conference is held today. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain hailed the Munich Pact, exclaiming it would bring "peace with honor" and "peace in our time." Winston Churchill responded, "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war."

Churchill was right about Nazi Germany. He knew that you cannot bring about real peace by appeasing expansionist dictatorships that are willing to invest their resources in military buildup at the expense of their own people. Similarly, President Trump is right about the Iranian regime. The nuclear deal was a giveaway to the regime, making billions of dollars available to fund Soleimani's terror campaign and Iran's offensive weaponry including ballistic missiles. Now Soleimani is dead and the regime has learned that U.S. appeasement is no longer the order of the day so long as President Trump remains in office.

If Senator Murphy and his comrades sought to undermine President Trump's successful peace through strength policy during their private meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, they need to be held fully accountable immediately.

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About the Author

Joseph A. Klein