Friday, March 06, 2015

Netanyahu's Real Alternative

 
 
-Charles Krauthammer, MD
 
Queen Esther got her first standing ovation in 2,500 years. And President Obama came up empty in his campaign to preemptively undermine Netanyahu...
 
Obama's petulant response was: "The prime minister didn't offer any viable alternatives."

But he did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable. And if that doesn't work? Hence Netanyahu's final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support.  

It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. This is as malicious a calumny as Charles Lindbergh's charge on Sept. 11, 1941, that "the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration."

In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars 

Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).  

Change the deal, strengthen the sanctions, give Israel a free hand. Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu's speech had a terrible poignancy.  

After all, Churchill was ignored.
[Jewish World Review]
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After the Speech: "Uh-Oh" - Walter Russell Mead

Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress had a measurable impact on the American debate over Iran policy. In Congress and even in the press there is a spreading sense of "uh-oh."
    
Netanyahu's speech and the reaction to it in Congress demonstrated beyond all doubt that America really does see Israel as a cherished friend and ally. For many American Christians, helping the Jews build a safe haven is a sacred religious duty. For many other Americans, what the Jews have built in Israel, despite all the problems and flaws, is a precious jewel, a beacon of liberty, and a sign of hope in a dark world.

Americans are not going to change their minds about this anytime soon. And they aren't willing to ditch Israel as the price of peace with the jihadis.
The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. He served as senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations until 2010. 
(American Interest)
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In the run-up to Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress, I confess I had been more than cynical. When he had finished speaking, I realized exactly how wrong I had been. This was one of the most powerful speeches which I have seen delivered in that chamber in the modern era. Netanyahu was gracious, not only to those who support him, but to those who might disagree with him. He was sincerely grateful for all that he and the nation he represents have received from the United States.
    
I was wrong when I supposed that this speech was a pointless, partisan, political ploy. He was there to be a leader, but also a gracious ally. He did not come with his hat in hand to ask America to save him. He reiterated that Israel could save itself, but that it would not have to stand alone as long as those with common values which embrace basic goodness stood together. 
(Hot Air)


[T]he U.S. administration is attempting to deflect the criticism now coming from many directions: Israel, Arab states, congressmen, statesmen like Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, and nuclear experts - people no less knowledgeable than the administration. The critics have legitimate concerns; they are not warmongers. The time to insist on mechanisms to maximize the prospect that Iran cannot move to nuclear weapons is now. 
The writer heads the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)



The bottom line: The administration is prepared to allow the Islamic Republic to get within a screwdriver's turn from the bomb, regardless of whether in 2025 Iran is ruled by Ahmadinejad 2.0, or whether it remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, or whether its leaders continue to call for the destruction of Israel. That's why Netanyahu said the deal "doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb, it paves Iran's path to the bomb." He was right.
(Foreign Policy)
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UPDATES:


A group of Republican senators has written a letter to the Iranian leadership warning that any nuclear deal Tehran signs with the current US administration will not necessarily be honored after President Barack Obama leaves office.

The letter is the latest effort by Congress to gain some control over an emerging deal with Iran, which many senators see as allowing the Islamic Republic to retain too much of its nuclear infrastructure, a view that was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech to Congress last week.

The senators point out to the Iranian leadership that any international treaty not approved by Congress "is a mere executive agreement." While President Obama is limited to two terms in office and will leave the White House in January 2017, "most of us will remain in office well beyond then - perhaps decades," the senators state.
[Jerusalem Post]
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The Gambler - John Vagabond

[I]t's those who weren't invited, the great mass of 'we, the people', the politically unwashed, who get to hear and respond to what Bibi will have so say on their TV screens and on the Internet. It's here where the standing ovations matter, not in a few Brooks Brothered suits sitting in committee chambers in Washington and liberal, wishy-washy drawing rooms.

He's taken a huge gamble, just to be there, and he will spell out a danger, clear and present, about the threat to his country of a nuclear-armed, fanatically destructive and psychopathically malevolent Iran whose tentacles of destruction already extend to its proxies in Lebanon, Gaza and Syria, all of which just happen to be in Israel's back yard.

America will listen, because this time the balance of power could shift dramatically and even perhaps permanently against US interests in the region if Iran is allowed to proceed, or even, pretend not to proceed.
 

All the time, people tell us not to trust politicians, and most of the time, they're quite right. But, on this occasion, in the words of the song, I think that it's probably wiser not to 'count your money when you're sitting at the table - there'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done'. And, to Israelis, you might like to offer a prayer of thanks for a leader who isn't just a good poker player, but a statesman.
[Small Wrinkles in Spacetime]
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Dealing with Iran - Douglas J. Feith

At the heart of the Obama-Netanyahu dispute - and of the president's clash with Congress - is not diplomacy versus war. It's the difference between cooperative diplomacy and coercive diplomacy.


By taking a cooperative approach, Obama insists, the U.S. and others can persuade Iran's ruling ayatollahs to play by rules that all parties voluntarily accept. In contrast, the coercive option, which Netanyahu favors, assumes that Iran will remain hostile, dishonest and dangerous.
     

When Obama says the Israeli leader has offered "no viable alternative" to the deal being negotiated, he is denying that a coercive option exists. But Netanyahu's point is that we can have one if we try.
    

Iranian leaders have a long record of shameless dishonesty. Their aid to the tyrannical Assad regime has been massive since the Syrian civil war began, but they routinely deny it. And they make a practice of lying to UN weapons inspectors.
     

History teaches that constraining bad actors through arms control and peace accords is a losing bet. The arms-control approach is to invite bad actors to sign legal agreements. This produces signing ceremonies, but the bad actors inevitably violate them.
The writer served as U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy (2001-05).
(Wall Street Journal)
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5 comments:

LHwrites said...

This seems a very narrow view of the event and the aftermath. Here are some other points of view and polls.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/03/why-netanyahus-speech-didnt-do-his-american-allies-any-favors/
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/netanyahu-on-iran-echoes-his-2002-iraq-alarm-407864899724
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/netanyahus-missed-opportunity
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/netanyahu-enters-never-never-land/2015/03/05/2f279c3c-c372-11e4-ad5c-3b8ce89f1b89_story.html
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Netanyahus-Congress-speech-did-not-help-Likud-Post-poll-finds-393124
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahus-speech-to-congress-fails-to-jolt-the-electoral-needle-at-home/2015/03/04/b8e9f31e-c0e0-11e4-a188-8e4971d37a8d_story.html

Bruce said...

Thx. I will review them.
B

John Vagabond said...

Opinion is, of course, sharply divided on N's legitimacy in addressing Congress in the first place, from Churchillian statesmanship to cheap political manoueuvring. I think he was right to go, play his cards and withdraw, letting the dust settle. The US Presidential hand has been called and rightly so, however the voting goes and if an Iranian deal is the best card in his foreign policy hand, he might be well advised to fold while he still can.
My take...
http://soupyskyepraise.blogspot.fr/2015/03/the-gambler.html

Bruce said...

I had no idea you blogged on the MidEast. I love your reflections and will include them (in soundbite version) in a blog post shortly.

Bruce said...

Hi John,
I just included your material in a update to this very post. i'll be following your blog from now on.
Bruce :}