Kerry: Lose that Limp Shrimp Pink Tie!

Ken Blackwell
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Posted: Dec 21, 2014 12:01 AM
Kerry: Lose that Limp Shrimp Pink Tie!
Editor'Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.

Well, here’s the problem. No wonder the U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks are going nowhere. Sec. of State John Kerry has had to kick the can down the road--again. He just gave Iran another extension on the West’s deadline to come to an agreement about Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon. Deadline? Red line? Dead red line?

Secretary Kerry has entered into talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. These are the highest level contacts since the Ayatollah Khomeini sparked the revolution in 1979 that brought the Mullahs to absolute power in that Shiite nation. The media are duly impressed. It is historic. Has to be. After all, John Kerry is there.

But going into these talks, Sec. Kerry wore a pink tie! Now, we all know that John F. Kerry is the clothes savviest, suavest top diplomat the U.S. has had since Dean Acheson. Kerry is a very model of sartorial excellence.

We can certainly give credit where credit is due. He’s come a long way, we must admit, since his first appearance on the national scene. He testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. Back then, he was a shaggy-haired student protestor wearing his Navy medals on his scruffy old combat jacket. Here’s the link to C-SPAN’s coverage.

Granted, today’s natty demeanor is a great improvement. But that limp shrimp pink tie is hardly a power tie. It’s a matter of historical record that no man who wears a pink tie has ever made peace in the Mideast, the Midwest, or anywhere else.


And, take our word for this, Mr. Secretary: pink tie tyers have never won the Nobel Peace Prize, either. Just check out AlGore’s somber gray cravat here. We could hardly ask for greater dignity than that displayed by Nelson Mandela as he accepted his Nobel Prize for Peace. HINT: No pink ties here, either.

We don’t want to spoil the fun for Most-Traveled Sec. of State in History. We would not object if he wore his pink ties to all those Georgetown cocktail parties or even sported one at a Harvard faculty dinner. (Although, given the leftwing politics of those places, isn’t wearing pink rather like gilding the lily?)

We have a serious point here: Sec. Kerry has allowed Foreign Minister Zarif to scream at him, to verbally abuse him, and as Washington’s Free Beacon reports, Kerry takes it.

VIENNA—Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks is known to frequently scream and shout at Western diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a practice that has caused alarm among bodyguards stationed outside the negotiating room, according to a member of the Iranian diplomatic team who spoke to the Farsi-language press.

This should never happen. Consider these two famous encounters. During World War II, Prime Minster Winston Churchill went to Moscow to tell Soviet dictator Josef Stalin there would be no Anglo-American invasion of Western Europe in 1942 or 1943, either. Stalin replied in rude, sarcastic, and insulting tones. “If you British would fight the Germans, you wouldn’t be so frightened of them,” he said through an interpreter.


Churchill returned to the British Embassy in a fury. He began to dictate a cable to London to report to the War Cabinet on the day’s ugly encounter.

“Prime Minister,” warned an aide, “all of your words are being monitored!” Instead of cutting off his remarks, Churchill raised his voice so the hidden bugs could pick up his every word. He told London:

If there is any repetition of these insults, I will of necessity return home immediately.

The next day, Churchill returned to the talks with Stalin. The Kremlin’s absolute ruler’s mood had changed over nigh. The talks proceeded with a measure of civility if not warmth.

Fast forward to 1986, Reykjavik, Iceland. President Reagan and Soviet Communist Party boss, Mikhail Gorbachev were racing toward an historic arms reduction agreement when when the charismatic Russian said that all of this was, of course, conditional on Reagan’s abandoning his Strategic Defense Initiative.

Nothing doing, said the Gipper. Nyet! He broke off the talks and left Iceland. There was no yelling. There were no ugly words. But Reagan made it clear he was through talking.


The Western media moaned and mourned. That foolish old man! That stubborn right1winger! That dangerous ideologue!

But one year later, in December, 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev met again. This time, in Washington, they signed the INF Treaty. It was the largest nuclear arms reduction treaty in history. Reagan’s watchword: Trust but Verify.

Both of these writers have dealt with the Russians. Blackwell in Moscow worked at the highest level (human rights, arms control) and Morrison in the Bering Sea at the lowest level (fisheries). Both of us can testify to what succeeds and what fails in delicate negotiations.

Churchill’s and Reagan’s dignity and firmness saved the day diplomatically. Peace can be achieved, but only through strength. Peace is not obtained by an American willingness to endure degradation and abuse.

And peace is certainly not advanced when our top diplomat signals by his attire that he is as soft as the most invertebrate wielders of Soft Power!