Monthly Archives: March 2015

Implications of Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show (here) and Roger Cohen in the New York Times (here) discussed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech to the US Congress (Youtube, here).

Jon Stewart, spoke about the “Festival of Slights,” and said, “No one can speak for all Jews … we like to argue.”

He also played clips of Netanyahu’s speeches to Congress.

Netanyahu in 2015, “Iran’s break-out time would be very short… about one year.”

In 1996, “The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran… If this regime or its despotic neighbor Iraq were to acquire nuclear weapons this could presage catastrophic consequences. Time is running out. We have to act.”

In 2002, “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, [you] could very well create an implosion in a neighboring regime like Iran.”

Cohen wrote (here),

Netanyahu … portrays a rampaging Islamic Republic that “now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana,” a nation “gobbling” other countries on a “march of conquest, subjugation and terror.” Then, in the same speech, he describes Iran as “a very vulnerable regime” on the brink of folding.

Well, which is it?

… where is the leverage to secure that “much better deal”?

[Netanyahu] dances over the fact that military action — the solution implicit in Netanyahu’s demands for Iranian nuclear capitulation — would likely set back the Iranian program by a couple of years at most, while guaranteeing that Iran races for a bomb in the aftermath.

What better assures Israel’s security, a decade of strict limitation and inspection of Iran’s nuclear program that prevents it making a bomb, or a war that delays the program a couple of years, locks in the most radical factions in Tehran, and intensifies Middle Eastern violence?

No wonder Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party’s House Leader, saw Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as an “insult to the intelligence of the United States.”

In commenting on the speech, here, Mier Dagan, former head of Israel’s Mossad, was skeptical that Iran could produce nuclear weapons in less than a year. That remark, Dagan said, was “bullshit.” Dagan called Netanyahu’s address “a political speech that caused diplomatic and defense damage to Israel.”

Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu’s opponent in the Israeli elections, said,

“The painful truth is that after the applause, Netanyahu was left alone. Israel was left isolated. And the negotiations with Iran will continue without any Israeli involvement. This speech badly damaged U.S.-Israel relations. It won’t change the administration’s stance but will only widen the rift with our greatest friend and strategic ally.”

Meanwhile this fellow stood outside Congress asking a very simple question:

American Protesting Israeli PM Netanyahu at US Congress, March, 2015. He stands with a sign asking members of Congress if they are loyal to the US or Israel.

American Protesting at US Congress, March, 2015

Netanyahu appeared to have openly supported Mitt Romney in the Presidential election of 2012 (ABC News/CS Monitor/Guardian). Had Mr. Romeny won the Presidency, whether or not he would have changed US policy toward Israel and the Middle East, there might have been the perception that the US was an agent of Israel.  The Republicans in Congress seem to have forgotten Washington’s and Jefferson’s policies about entangling alliances.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Israel, Netanyahu, Obama