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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sense or nonsense?


Trying to make sense out of the fight over Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress, Mitchell Bard spouts a lot of nonsense.
Netanyahu’s decision to speak before Congress still makes little sense. In addition to angering Obama and Democrats in Congress,
Obama was 'angry' at Israel long before Netanyahu decided to come and speak. Look at the history of this relationship. Obama's bona fides as a supporter of Israel were being questioned long before Netanyahu became Prime Minister in 2009. Obama is angry at Israel because it exists. Neither Binyamin Netanyahu nor anyone else in Israel did anything to bring about that anger. Netanyahu's speech has nothing to do with this. Recall that Obama called Netanyahu chickens**t long before this speech was ever announced.

As to the supposed anger of Democrats, mainstream Democrats - like Menendez and Schumer and Dershowitz - haven't expressed a whole lot of anger. The anger comes from the Congressional Black Caucus (which brands any questioning of Obama as 'racism') and from Democrats who take money from J Street and other far Left organizations. Those people - and the people who vote for them - are the ones who are driving down the percentage of Democrats who sympathize with Israel. They were never in Israel's court from the start. Netanyahu's speech is just flushing them out. Even if they still insist on calling themselves 'Israel supporter.'
he has undermined the legislation that he was coming to support.
Netanyahu is not coming to speak in support of the sanctions legislation. It already has a veto proof majority once it is brought to the floor. Netanyahu is coming to speak out against making a bad deal with Iran in which all red lines are abandoned. A deal in which Iran is allowed to retain its nuclear facilities, retain its uranium enrichment plants, keep the centrifuges spinning and - yes - still get relief from sanctions. It's a deal against which most of Washington seems to be tongue-tied.
The prime minister’s speech also has an air of desperation; he apparently realizes that he cannot prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
It's not that Netanyahu cannot prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons - it's that Obama won't let him. So yes, there is some desperation here. Netanyahu is desperate to stop Obama from officially declaring that Iran can do whatever it pleases when it comes to nuclear weapons - to leave the door open for another President or another day. Because Iran can be stopped - just not without military action, or at least a credible threat of military action. 

But Netanyahu isn't the only desperate one here. So is Obama. Obama is desperate to stop the Prime Minister he called a chickens**t from undermining what Obama believes will be his signature foreign policy achievement for his second term, if not for his entire Presidency: appeasing Iran, bringing it back into the 'family of nations' and turning it into a regional power in the Middle East which can offset Israel and force Israel to start whistling to the Arabs' tune. The fact that Obama is clearly expending far more energy on stopping Netanyahu's speech than he is on stopping Iran's drive for nuclear weapons shows that Obama is also desperate. Let's call it desperate for a legacy.


The argument here is whether Obama's Munich-like philosophy will prevail or whether Netanyahu's vision of an acknowledged Israeli right to take independent action against Iran will prevail. By stiffening opposition to the deal, both in and out of Congress, Netanyahu is increasing the (admittedly slim) likelihood that Congress will stand up to Obama and scuttle the deal. No, Netanyahu won't persuade the Schakowsky's or the Rangel's or the Durbin's, but he might give Chuck Schumer - for example - the backbone to say that he cannot in good conscience vote with the administration on this and not welch as Schumer has done in the past. And he's also increasing the likelihood that when and if Israel decides it has no choice but to act, Obama will not have the political backing to stand in the way.
it is difficult to see what purpose the prime minister’s speech will serve since he has been sounding the same alarm now for years. His views are no secret to anyone and will have no greater impact if they are presented before Congress.
That's actually not true. Most Americans could not even name the Prime Minister of Israel until this controversy started, let alone recite his views on a deal whose details are slowly coming out in the media.  Israeli opposition to the deal is the only context in which Americans are discussing the substantive problems with Obama's appeasement. Netanyahu's speech is already helping to raise the profile of opposition views to the deal. And unlike in Israel, where it is being delayed for five minutes on the bogus claim that there might be partisan thoughts, the speech is likely to be viewed live in the United States by millions.
Israel has good reason to be alarmed at the direction the nuclear talks have taken, even though it appears unlikely Iran will except any deal.
Unless you equate Iran with the 'Palestinians,' who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, it seems to me that at this point a deal is highly likely. Obama has already conceded almost everything Iran wants.
Did Netanyahu think speaking in Congress would help his reelection campaign? Perhaps, but this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Incumbents always blur the lines between policymaking and campaigning. When Obama ran for reelection his speeches were meant to help his campaign regardless of whether they were labeled as campaign events. Furthermore, the fact that Obama reacted so angrily, as did many other Democrats, may hurt Netanyahu’s chances if Israeli voters decide that they don’t want a prime minister who has worsened ties with their principal ally.
No, this is not about the Israeli elections. I am sure that Netanyahu would have a much better chance of gaining votes by staying in Israel and campaigning. Ask Buzi Herzog.
Zionist Union co-chairman Isaac Herzog said Tuesday that he had declined AIPAC's invitation to address its conference, saying that while American Jews are very important to him, it was clear that replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was just as critical and his main mission now.
In a press conference with foreign media, Herzog said that Netanyahu's spin on the question of who's going to Washington has to stop. Every Israeli and American official - including the U.S. President - knows his stance against the Iranian nuclear program, Herzog added.
Herzog told the reporters that when he becomes prime minister, he will travel all over the world to preserve the security interests of the citizens of Israel – but for now, he has to decline the invitation to focus on that goal.
So who is the statesman and who is running an election campaign?


Netanyahu has only two options: He can surrender to the Iranian nuclear bomb, pretend that everything is nice with the White House until the next crisis, and echo White House propaganda that ISIS is the big problem. Or he can play the cards he has and work the only realistic opportunity to stunt Obama’s planned appeasement and preserve an Israeli military option against the Iranian weapon. Which would you choose if you were him?

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1 Comments:

At 8:04 PM, Blogger stephen77 said...

Hello Carl. Could you encapsulate precisely what Netanyahu wants regarding Iran, and how he would go about getting it, assuming there were no constraints?
This is one of those issues about which there is considerable confusion on the part of may Americans.
Thanks

 

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