By Fareed Zakaria
In diplomacy, transparency is often the enemy of progress. Negotiations are best conducted secretly until there is an agreement. When carried out in full public view, the process simply allows opponents to attack every concession made to one side, paying little attention to the concessions to the other. Even imagined concessions get attacked. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu furiously protested against the proposed deal with Iran even though, as Kerry suggested, he didn't actually know what was in it. Ironically, it is to prevent just this problem that Netanyahu has insisted that talks between Israel and the Palestinians take place in strict secrecy.
One party that did know what was in the proposed agreement was France. The French took the unusual step of breaking ranks with their Western colleagues to publicly denounce the deal on the table. This has led some to wonder whether France's strategy was to demonstrate its hard-line credentials to the most anti-Iranian states in the Middle East–Saudi Arabia, in particular–and thus gain favor. (Paris has signed a multibillion-dollar defense deal with Riyadh in recent months.) And of course, being anti-American comes naturally to a French President, especially one from the Socialist Party, like Francois Hollande.