Netanyahu and Obama 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in love. Not with a person or an idea, but
with a party. The Republican Party. Ever since he took office, Netanyahu has
found himself attracted to the GOP. Now, the attraction has blossomed into love.
The prime minister has been swept off his feet by the parade of dashing
Republican candidates courting him and offering to take care of Iran, an issue
he has struggled with for more than two years.It’s like the old song lyrics,
“Heaven/ I’m in heaven/ and my heart beats/ so that I can hardly
When it comes to a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu is like a damsel in
distress. While he has stated in the past that Israel would deal with Iran by
itself if forced to, he knows this to be untrue. Experts agree that even a
successful Israeli attack would only delay Tehran’s nuclear ambitions by a year
or two, and would come at a high price.
Thus, the prime minister is using
scare tactics in order to nudge other world leaders into action. Like any
damsel, he is pinning his hopes on the kindness of strangers.
Netanyahu is an arranged marriage with US President Barak Obama. But this is a
relationship built on mistrust and suspicion. Like Michele Bachmann, a
candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, he believes that Obama has
adopted a policy of appeasement toward Iran. Americans want Obama to be tough on
crime; Netanyahu wants Obama to be tough on Iran.
The prime minister
hopes that come November 2012 the American voters will, a la Fiddler on the
, “match him a match, find him a find, catch him a catch” – a good
that would enable Mr. Netanyahu to take his
relationship with the GOP to the next level, blissful matrimony. A strike on
Iran would serve as the honeymoon.
BUT LOVE, as they say, is blind. In
Netanyahu’s case this might prove to be true. Recent polls in the US show
that President Obama has a good chance of winning the next elections. Several
national polls place him ahead of all Republican candidates. In the case of Mitt
Romney it’s a small lead, but the president is much farther ahead of Newt
Even if a Republican is voted into office, there is no
guarantee he would become Netanyahu’s knight in shining armor. In fact, the
field of Republican candidates seem to be moving in the opposite direction. In a
recent National Security Debate held in Washington, the contenders all took a
step back from the Iranian cliff.
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Ron Paul, the congressman from the
great state of Texas, declared that he would oppose a US military strike in
Iran. In his opinion, America should simply butt out and let Israel take care of
itself. To quote Al Pacino in the movie Scent of a Woman
– whoa! While Paul may
be the odd man out in the Republican race, the other candidates agreed that it
was too soon to talk about a military campaign in the Persian
Republican front-runner and former speaker of the house Newt
Gingrich said the US should focus on changing the regime in Iran with as little
force as possible. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, would
settle for sanctions which would cripple the Iranian economy, as would Texas
Gov. Rick Perry.
So it appears that GOP leaders are not as eager as
Netanyahu to take the relationship further. Could the Republican’s recent
statement on Iran be their way of saying “it’s not you, it’s me”? Or maybe, like
Groucho Marx, they all feel that marriage is a wonderful institution, but who
wants to live in an institution? Netanyahu may have to rethink his policy
regarding Iran. Scare tactics and wishful thinking might not do the trick.
Luckily for him, the events taking place in the Middle East offer many other
possibilities. A pragmatic Arab League still awaits an answer on the Saudi peace
plan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is just as lonely as
Perhaps a local suitor could be found.
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