Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Netenyahu: Invited to Undermine

John Boehner invited Netenyahu to speak to Congress with no other intent than to undermine negotiations with Iran that are intended to keep them from building nuclear weapons, negotiations that are not just between the U.S. and Iran, but a whole host of Western powers and Iran. A loathsome act by the Speaker. Let's take a quick look at other talking points.

1. We hear a lot about the "existential" threat to Israel. But which state is the one more likely to lethally bomb the other? Israel, of course. Unless Iran is suicidal, they won't bomb Israel. ISIS is a suicidal end-times death cult; not Iran. Also, the U.S. has a track record of meddling in Iran's internal affairs. Iran is far more likely to be obliterated than Israel is.

2. If we don't negotiate, Iran will certainly build a bomb, and Israel and the U.S. will be left with only a military option to try, futilely, to prevent it. But Israel and House Republicans actually do want war, so that's where we are headed if negotiations fail. A war with with Iran would make the Iraq debacle look like Grenada. If they don't want war, well, what is their plan of action to stop Iran?

3. Through negotiations, Iran is agreeing to be part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. In exchange for serious inspections to prevent bomb-building, all states in the world have the right to nuclear energy. It's worth noting that Israel has nukes in contravention of the NPT, as does U.S. ally India. When the U.S. paved the way for India to build nukes a few years ago they assured that Iran would be under no moral obligation not to follow suit and build their own. And Israel is saying, it's OK for us to act outside of international law, but not Iran. If you were Iranian -- and I mean just a regular educated non-fanatical Iranian -- what would your reaction to that be?

4. Of course the cynical view is that he's just doing this to bump his numbers in the upcoming election. Would Bibi toy with global peace just for that? Maybe. A related view is that he cares less about Iran getting the bomb than he he does about them becoming an accepted member of the international community. Fallows argues that at The Atlantic.

UPDATE 3-4-15:

As always, I urge you to read Larison at the American Conservative on foreign policy matters. Among other things, he called Netenyahu's  appearance a "disgraceful spectacle." (Obama called it "theater.") In terms of particulars, Larison notes that when Bibi rejects an agreement that has a ten-year expiration date, he is rejecting the norms that guide nearly all such negotiations. It's not negotiating if one side is expected to concede on every single point.

Noted elsewhere, the Israeli PM has a dismal track record in terms of his projections for the Middle East. He was one quite notable and early proponent of the Iraq debacle, and he's been wrong on much, much else. But the hard-liners and fear-mongers in both countries keep the other gainfully employed, so they have that going for themselves.

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