On the day that Barack Obama gained enough votes supporting his deal with Iran to keep it from even coming to a vote in the Senate, the Supreme Leader of his partner nation, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, proclaimed that Iran would see to it that Israel will not survive the 25 years of the agreement, and that the US will remain as the Big Satan with no access to Iran.A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat.
Also in the news were reports of Iran developing missiles capable of reaching Western Europe and the US, perhaps capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Barack Obama has done it again. If the Nobel Committee gave him the Peace Prize for the Cairo speech that preceded Arab spring and what came next in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Nigeria, he should get at least as much for the deal said to keep Iran from nuclear weapons.
Europeans and Japanese have gone along with the American leadership, talking about doing business with Iran more than worrying about those missiles being developed.
Israel's worries are the most immediate, softened a bit by reports from the diplomatic communities that Iran is not serious about its rhetoric. By that view, the speeches are meant to firm up support at home and elsewhere among Shiite Muslims (read that Hezbollah) more than to define any serious intentions.
With those soothing comments, plus a few (nuclear?) missile carrying submarines from Germany and a new generation of formidable plans from the US, Israelis may breath easier.
However, with Iranians continuing to speak as they do, Israel has all the moral authority necessary to use the maximum of its military potential.
Jewish lore and law has provided for this.
הבא להורגך השכם להורגוIf someone is coming to kill you, get up early and kill him. (Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, p. 72a)
It's widely said that it is too late for Israel to do significant damage to Iran's nuclear program, due to its dispersal and burial, without using a number and manner of weapons that would assure Israel's condemnation, isolation, and destructive retaliation.
Maybe. What the grandchildren of Holocaust victims will do when threatened is not something for casual speculation.
What the victory does for the reputation of Barack Obama and the prospects of his party colleagues is another matter.Deal supporters are claiming that surveys of American Jews show that most are on their side. J-Street announced that "American Jews overwhelmingly support the president’s diplomatic efforts." In this case, "overwhelming" was 59 percent.
However, most American Jews vote and express themselves as Democrats, and this is a party issue. Americans generally have responded against the deal by a margin of 49 to 21, with 70 percent saying that they have "not too much" confidence or "none at all" that Iranians will uphold the deal.
To hear that American Jews support the agreement more than Americans generally will not soothe those Israelis who have come to view American cousins as coddled by a good life, and wrongheaded on what's important.
It's too early to project anything about the 2016 election. The Republicans have to sort themselves out; Donald Trump may have to sort himself out more than others. Hillary still has an edge, but she's getting more challengers. Her e-mail kerfuffle may be more than trivial, and she occasionally looks her age. Immigration may yet prove as important as the Iran deal, and both may help the Republicans if they do not kill themselves in the primaries, or if Trump keeps to the prospect of running as an Independent if he doesn't get the nomination.
It's also too early to project what historians will write about Barack Obama a decade or more from now. Should the deal go really bad, Obama, along with John Kerry will find themselves on the same shelf with Neville Chamberlain.
Iranian support for Hezbollah, Bashar al Assad, rebels in Yemen and Bahrain, as well as flirts with Hamas are still in the air. In the confusion of the Middle East, there is also some kind of cooperation between Iran and the United States against the Islamic State.
In my days as a baseball fan, I learned that you can't tell the players without a score card. Now it is apparent that there is no scorecard for the Middle East. Barack Obama may have thought he could fixed it with good will, some speeches, and diplomacy. He may now realize that it ain't so simple. Iranian and Russian soldiers are doing what they can to save the Assad regime, or what is left of what used to be Syria. That country's map is a mosaic of areas dominated, but not likely controlled in any regular sense by the government or its competitors. Turkish Kurds have gone into Syria to fight alongside Syrian Kurds. Turkey has sent its army into Iraq against Kurds, after Kurds killed police in eastern Turkey. Hezbollah fighters near the border with Israel have sought to cause trouble here, but the response was severe. And one convey of Israeli ambulances taking wounded Syrians to a hospital was set upon and the wounded personnel killed by Israeli Druze, seemingly seeking revenge for what happened to their cousins in Syria.
It's a tough place.
Let's hope the well intentioned, but combat shy American President doesn't go down as his generation's great appeaser.