Team Obama turns the Netanyahu address into a global event

“leave it to the political wizards of the Obama Administration to turn it into the global diplomatic event of the year.” (Wall Street Journal Editorial)


When I first read that Netanyahu would deliver a speech to the US Congress opposing Obama’s still distant conclusion to the endless Iran nuclear negotiations I wondered at the wisdom, the potential damage to Israel from openly defying the president of the United States. With the disclosure recently of the outlines of the “agreement” my attitude changed. I have never been a fan of the prime minister but, with the election of Obama (for whom I voted) I felt that the more hawkish Israeli might be exactly what Israel needed to balance the new president.
I do not put full blame on Obama for the emerging nuclear deal: it was, after all, GW Bush who allowed Iran to progress to the point Obama inherited the problem. Regarding Iranian challenge to American hegemony in the region, had the “activist” Republican somehow won a third term I suspect his policy of ignoring the problem would have brought the world to precisely the point that the appeasement negotiating strategy of Obama has achieved. Retreat to Isolationism is, after all, US policy at least since Iran enticed Bush to overthrow their arch-enemy (against strong Israel, Saudi and Egyptian advice against!) Sadam Hussein.
It is America’s efforts to hide behind its two-ocean defense lines, leaving the Middle East and the world without a “superpower” that has contributed so dramatically to events unfolding in the region, trapping the US in the unfolding quagmire it sought to avoid. Damn Syria: just when we were at the threshold of escape!
The two articles reproduced in whole or part below appeared in the conservative Wall Street Journal and the liberal New York Times. Both ends of the American political spectrum. Both appeared yesterday/today and both fully agree regarding the disaster represented by the promised negotiations outcome.
It appears that, at least regarding hubris and the president’s “instincts” regarding Iran that his administration is no longer between the right and the left, but outside even America’s longing to retreat from the world!


Speech of the Year

Team Obama turns the Netanyahu address into a global event.

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 26, 2015 7:56 p.m. ET

Speeches by foreign leaders to Joint Meetings of Congress are routine events, and often among the more forgettable. So it might have been with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s address to Congress next Tuesday. But leave it to the political wizards of the Obama Administration to turn it into the global diplomatic event of the year.

From the moment House Speaker John Boehner invited Mr. Netanyahu, the Obama Administration has made its displeasure plain, first accusing the Israeli government of breaching diplomatic protocol and leaning on Congressional Democrats to boycott. Then this week the Administration unleashed a withering personal and political attack that is unprecedented against a close ally. National Security Adviser Susan Rice even said the speech is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between Washington and Jerusalem.

The Administration’s tactic seems to be to peel off some of these Democrats by accusing Mr. Netanyahu of injecting partisanship into U.S. politics. But the Prime Minister did nothing more than accept an invitation from a co-equal branch of government, with its own important foreign-policy role. If there is partisanship here, it is from a President whose Iran policy is no longer trusted by much of his own party.
The Administration also seems to think that manufacturing a crisis of relations might defeat Mr. Netanyahu in Israel’s elections next month. A similar crisis between then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and the George H.W. Bush Administration contributed to Shamir’s defeat in 1992.
That tactic may work again, since Israelis are naturally wary of becoming estranged from their most important ally. Then again, Israelis are even more wary of a nuclear Iran, and a recent poll by the Times of Israel found that 72% of Israelis “do not” trust Mr. Obama to ensure that Iran won’t get a bomb. Some 59% of Israelis also hold an unfavorable view of the U.S. President.
This suggests that Mr. Obama’s attempts to interfere in Israeli politics by personalizing his differences with the Prime Minister may backfire. The trashing of Mr. Netanyahu has done nothing but increase public interest in his speech, no matter how many Democrats boycott. Recent polling finds Americans overwhelmingly in favor of giving the Israeli leader a fair hearing in Congress.
Assuming Mr. Netanyahu’s argument and rhetoric prove equal to the occasion, Mr. Obama may have done him and his cause a political favor.

Converting the Ayatollahs [excerpts]

 NYTimes, FEB. 27, 2015


 … [President Obama] seeks to wean Iran away from the radicalism of the revolution and bind it into the international economic and diplomatic system. By reaching an agreement on nukes and lifting the sanctions, Iran would re-emerge as America’s natural partner in the region... Once enmeshed in the global system, Iran would work to tame Hezbollah and Hamas and would cooperate to find solutions in Gaza, Iraq and Syria. There would be a more stable balance of power between the major powers… To pursue this détente, Obama has to have a nuclear agreement. He has made a series of stunning sacrifices in order to get it.

In 2012, the president vowed that he would not permit Iran to maintain a nuclear program… Under the reported framework, Iran would have thousands of centrifuges… According to some reports, there will be no limits on Iran’s ballistic missiles, no resolution of Iran’s weaponizing activities… Iran may be especially radical if the whole region gets further inflamed by Sunni-Shia rivalry or descends into greater and greater Islamic State-style fanaticism… Do we really want a nuclear-capable Iran in the midst of all that?

If the Iranian leaders believe what they say, then

United States policy should be exactly the opposite of the one now being pursued… Instead of a condominium with Iran that offends traditional allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, the U.S. should build a regional strategy around strengthening relations with those historic pillars.