Netanyahu: The Day After (Revised)

4 Mar

Netanyahu: The Day After

 

My reaction to Netanyahu’s theatrical performance yesterday in Congress led me to recall that the deepest thinkers turned against democracy in ancient Greece because of the susceptibility of the Athenian citizenry to demagogic oratory from opportunistic politicians. Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides all became sensitive to the degree to which the rhetoric of demagogues contributed to the decline, and eventual downfall, of ancient Athens. They did this by convincing Athens to embark on superfluous and self-destructive war making.  Yet even in the worst last days of Athens the demagogues who performed so destructively were at least homegrown! It would have been inconceivable anywhere else than the United States for a controversial foreign leader to be welcomed before the legislative chamber with the express purpose of attacking the ongoing delicate diplomacy of the elected head of state on an issue of utmost importance for the peace and security of the world. It is not merely a matter of the niceties of governmental protocol as to whether the Speaker of the House was delinquent by not coordinating the invitation with the White House so as to agree on a date not so embarrassingly tied to Netanyahu’s bid for reelection on March 17, although even such issues are not trivial. More substantial, however, is what it tells us about this self-destructive embrace of a foreign leader that is unabashedly seeking to derail a critical foreign policy initiative clearly in the interest of the United States, the Middle East, and the world, and even Israel (although presumably not from Netanyahu’s and Likud’s inflamed and inflammatory worldview).

 

Such concerns about the vulnerabilities of democracy also underpinned the republican ethos of James Madison and other architects of the U.S. Constitution that explain why America’s founders opted for a republic rather than a democracy. They sought to rein in ‘the tyranny of the majority’ by a series of measures that willingly sacrificed efficiency for restraint. Such republican sentiments have been trashed in recent years, especially by Republicans who have been ironically particularly willing to give the President essentially unlimited discretion to wage war while foregoing the specifics of authorization and the requirements of a ‘declaration of war.’ In fairness, the Democrats are not without blame for this constitutional complacency, which is suggestive of the insidious effects of compulsive bipartisanship in recent American foreign policy, and no where more insidiously than in relation to Israel and a disastrous militarist approach to peace and security throughout the Middle East.

 

Stripped of its Baroque flourishes, what Netanyahu was telling Congress is that it should be sure to impose such unreasonably strict requirements on any future deal with respect to Iran’s nuclear program as to make any proposed arrangement non-negotiable. As it is, what Obama seems to be demanding of the Iranians is a set of assurances that extend far beyond what has been ever expected of any other non-nuclear state despite several others (including Germany and Japan) edging far closer to the nuclear weapons threshold than Iran. These impositions on Iran’s nuclear program include restrictions on enriching capabilities, removals of existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, and a program of periodic rigorous inspections, scheduled and unannounced.

There already exists an unreflective consensus in the United States that any effort by Iran to cross the nuclear threshold would provides ample justification for launching an aggressive war against Iran. The liberal center of the current American political debate, dominated by soft Zionist perspectives, seems mindless or clueless about why such a posture is so unjustified. It never makes mention of the litany of unlawful military threats made by the United States, and even more so by a nuclear armed Israel over the years, directed at Iran. Most commentators do not acknowledge that threatening a non-defensive military attack is as unlawful as is an actual use of force (the UN Charter uses the language of ‘threat or use of force,’ making no legal distinctions, and does so knowingly in light of the effects of such military threats on peaceful relations and on sovereign rights). This threat diplomacy has been reinforced by an array of provocative and unlawful covert interventions disregarding Iran’s rights as a sovereign state, including the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran and cyber warfare waged against its nuclear program (in 2010 it became clear that the United States and Israel had jointly developed a computer worm known at Stuxnet that was being used to destroy Iranian centrifuge capabilities at their Natanz facility and maybe elsewhere). Against such a background, Iran’s willingness to negotiate in light of this background, not to mention its willingness to overlook Israel’s retention of a nuclear weapons monopoly in the region, can only be understood in relation to the hardship imposed on the country by the international sanctions regime established largely at the behest of Washington and Tel Aviv, as well as the drastic fall in world price of oil. Additionally, the leadership of the Iranian government seems inclined to establish more normal relations with the United States and the West after decades of confrontation.

 

Against this background, we can begin to appreciate how deeply irresponsible it was for Netanyahu to be given this Congressional platform from which to deliver his fear-mongering and war-provoking speech that quite obviously had one overriding purpose and effect—to defeat, and at least deeply complicate, the already complicated diplomacy of reaching an agreement with Iran acceptable to both sides. Its secondary motives, equally obviously, was to help Netanyahu win electoral approval in Israel and to show the American people that for the sake of Israel, they are far better off in the future with a Republican in the White House.

 

If this gloomy assessment is correct it will almost certainly lead in two main directions: giving the hardliners in Iran the upper hand, who have contended all along that an encounter with the West is inevitable and in accord with Islamic destiny. In effect, a collision course culminating in war would appear increasingly inevitable. And such a collision would have devastating effects in the region, including a substantial risk of a far wider regional war. It would also take a huge step in the direction of making the Huntington prophesy of ‘a clash of civilizations’ a tragic reality.

 

For a global state such as the United States, the pursuit of national interests is often destructive of the interests of others, but given that the alternative here of the adoption of the Netanyahu’s prescriptions, it should be a no brainer that the Obama approach is to be greatly preferred. As argued, even Obama is being far too deferential to Israel’s view of Iran, but at least it is far less destructive of national and human interests than where Netanyahu’s path leads. This is one situation in which ‘leading from behind’ (that is, following Israel) will not do. The world needs a responsible United States Government on the global stage, but this can only happen if the umbilical cord tying the country to Israel is cut, and this will only become feasible when many more of the American people awaken to their own interests and the betrayal of their most cherished values.

 

A final observation—we should not forget while this dark Netanyahu melodrama unfolds, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is completely ignored except by the Palestinians and by activist supporters around the world. Quite relevantly, the supposedly moderate Israeli opposition to Netanyahu has also kept mum about what they might do to bring about a just peace, apparently being either content with the status quo or fearing that any talk of making peace would alienate even anti-Netanyahu voters. In effect, one more cost of the Netanyahu visit is to preclude any mainstream attention being given to the intolerable realities so long endured by Palestinians living under occupation and in refugee camps.

19 Responses to “Netanyahu: The Day After (Revised)”

  1. Arif March 4, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I would say it bordered on sedition.

  2. farid March 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    The latest Netanyahu “speech” was included by Obama regime in order to exert pressure on Iranians to accept a very bad deal. As you have expressed yourself on the previous page: [You are quite wrong about the nature of the agreement. It is more restrictive than I would have expected to be negotiable.] Then know what I am talking about.
    The clash between Obama and Netanyahu is FAKE. This tension has been constructed to pressure Iranians to submission. This Fake clash is intended to silence the critic of a very bad ‘deal’ where NO LEADER WILL ACCEPT as it is, except traitors and Zionist stooges.
    Then, both Obama and Netanyahu threaten Iran with WAR if Iranians don’t accept. War? for what? No one knows, except that we know both are war criminals. This script written by Obama where Netanyahu delivers the insult called ‘speech’, to intimate Iranians into submission to spread the fears of ‘Iran danger’ among gullible people, if ran does not accept. This is the main diplomacy of Obama regime with Iran. Obama is threatening Iran with war. He says: “if Iran Talks Fail ‘Military Actions’ Await.”
    Obama thinks Iranian people are dumb not to see his criminal intend.
    Iranian people have already spoken through media and have exposed the latest deception of Obama against Iranian nation and are very angry. Iranian people are NOT dumb. However, he may be able to fool his own supporters AGAIN.

    The Zionists have already spoken and are happy with the language of the ‘negotiations’, since Obama has given all the details of the negotiation to Israel whenever the US/Iran met. Why all of a sudden the Zionists are making such a noise especially when Obama wants Iran to accept a very bad deal by March 17. The criminal Zionists ideal is total elimination of Iran nuclear program , which is not possible due to Ahmadinejad’s clever move he made in his term to increase enrichment to 20%. Otherwise, Israel is very satisfied with the stick Obama is holding over Iranian people head.

    The phony clash between Obama/Netanyahu has been inserted by Obama regime to force Iranians into submission where Iranians will REJECT. The latest deception will strengthen their view that USG cannot be trusted. Obama has always supported Israel’s crimes against humanity and continue to do so, therefore, the latest SHOW is for the fools to watch and to believe. Iranians are not fool, but their enemies are.

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya writes:

    {Although there are several angels to look at the situation, the key point that should not be lost is that through his tough stance Prime Minister Netanyahu is actually providing leverage to President Obama and the US negotiating team against Iran. This is why talk about a war with Iran is beginning again in Washington, DC.}

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/netanyahus-speech-to-the-us-congress-really-helps-obama-against-iran/5434611

    Iranian newspapers revealed Obama’s deception. The top story today, headlined “Netanyahu’s mission to support the Geneva agreement under the guise of opposition,” reported that the United States and Israel have engaged in what’s called a “jeweler’s war,” which in Persian is when two sides work together to fake a conflict, in order to force Iran’s nuclear negotiators to make an “incorrect calculation” in the nuclear talks.
    According to Iranian opinions, Israel’s opposition to the Geneva interim nuclear deal was “political maneuvering” to allow the United States to force Iran into more concessions, and now claims Netanyahu’s opposition to a nuclear deal is also intended to “deceive the Iranian team.”

  3. Dr Dayan Jayatilleka March 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Perhaps most ridiculous of all was Netanyahu’s dismissal of Iran’s valuable role in combating ISIS on the ground. His argument was in essence that these were Tweedledee and Tweedledum. If the same thinking were to have been adopted by Churchill and Roosevelt there would have been no Western wartime alliance with Stalin (and Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Tito) against fascism. Netanyahu’s argument on Iran vs. ISIS is also reminiscent of those in US policy making circles who saw the Sino-Soviet split as merely tactical. The bottom line then is that Netanyahu would have the US lawmakers push Iran to the brink, while the US is fighting ISIS/ISIL and eyeballing it with Russia in another theatre. With friends like these…

  4. carlos March 4, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Speaking on Q. & A. program on ABC (Australia) in answer to question re rise of anti-Semitism, it was admirable that Miriam Margolyse (actress, recent resident of Australia) replied ‘blame it on Israel and Netanyahu’s attitude and treatment of the Palestinians, World-wide people are waking up!. Israel/ Dimona, main
    danger in the ME. N. disarmament pls.

  5. Kata Fisher March 4, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    Dear Farid & Carlos:

    When my father lived, he would use a word that I hardly ever heard anyone else use in my entire life – as a child and after that.

    Once, I was watching UN address by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and he said that word: “dusman.”

    When my father applied that word, it meant “spiritual enemy”.

    http://www.wordsense.eu/%D8%AF%D8%B4%D9%85%D9%86/

    It was ringing true to me – the word itself echoed in my conscience, and I understood Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!

    I do not believe that one can or should “deceive the Iranian team”…
    Only Satan deceives the nations.

    Where Iran does would like to meet?

    Besides, where is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni?

    Professor Falk met him while he was camping out in France (Khomeni camp / Levite camp?) By now, he (our beloved Professor) has have met interesting Hebrew prophets – such as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni?

    Getting absolution for the Pope is like unhealthy joke. But it must be done.
    There is young priest from Dalmatia Zlatko Sudac who, in fact, can give absolution to a Pope – why him? He is closest to Rome – I guess.

    Well, it is way too complicated – Pope can’t be forgiven apart from authentic absolution trough confirmed stigmata in the Church-Charismatic.

    Iran does not need nuclear deal. Iran just should make no deals with nuclear things, except, take spiritual authority over it and get rid of it in the Middle East. I believe this because I believe I know who Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni is – and why he was under such spiritual attack because he is the one who has authentic spiritual authority in Middle East to do away with nuclear waste.

    It is of all of Satan – nuclear technology – it is not from God. This is way: evil science, all together that interferes with natural human life and spiritual process.

    We can call it good; however, it is good of a evil.

    A very important note:

    Farid writes:

    “…a ‘jeweler’s war,’ which in Persian is when two sides work together to fake a conflict’ in order to force Iran’s nuclear negotiators to make an ‘incorrect calculation’ in the nuclear talks.”

    We ask, “Jeweler war for and of what?”

    We do ask this: How much of evil is under the Grace? Well, I can assure all that Nuclear weaponry is not under Grace, at all. Everyone has to repent of it. All nuclear pursuits should be replaced by other ways that meet human needs. Above Earth Resources, first.

    It is time to start to be rational for humans.

    • rehmat1 March 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      I have a reflection. The Persian word “Dusman” happens to be pronounced “Dushman”, which means ENEMY. British veteran war reporter and author Alan Hart called “Zionism is the greatest DUSHMAN of Judaism”.

      Shalom……

      • Kata Fisher March 5, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

        Shalom,

        Who is Alan Hart – and why would he say such thing?

  6. Gene Schulman March 5, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    Dear Richard,

    Except for a few typos, I find no fault with your reasoning about Netanyahu’s visit to Congress. However, I don’t believe you go far enough. Anyone with an I.Q above 65 can see that this is all domestic politics and circus on behalf of both the Republican party and Netanyahu’s re-election chances. Much deeper, I believe, is the true attitude toward Iran. Iran has never been a threat, either to Israel or the U.S. The nuclear negotiations are only a distraction. The main purpose of both U.S. and Israel’s foreign policy is to maintain their hegemony in the region and sustain their aggressive military actions against all potential challenges. Thus, I believe that Iran is still in the gunsights and will eventually be attacked, no matter what treaties may be signed. The U.S. and Israel are tied at the hip, and for all the talk of tension between Bibi and Obama, those ties will ne’er be severed.

  7. Kata Fisher March 5, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    About Existential threat to Persia-Israel

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/05/world/amanpour-iran-javad-zarif/index.html

  8. john francis lee March 5, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    I think the allusion to the people being misled by demagogues is misplaced. There 313 million Americans but just 537 oligarchs – the house, senate, president and vice president – who lord it over us and it is they who chase the skirts not of demagogues but who cower before the AIPAC and its protection racket : You wouldn’t want to destroyed in the next election, would you?

    Noam Chomsly makes it his habit to cite polls showing the ‘amazing’ result that most Americans do not approve of what ‘our’ oligarchics do. I don’t imagine it was any different it ancient days either. The people who wrote classical history were oligarchs of later centuries themselves.

    I found Michael Parenti’s, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, a very good read, and I’ll bet you have to, or would if you haven’t read it already.

    Don’t beat the people with the knotted rope reserved for the hypocritical oligarchs. Please.

    I’ll bet that a politician who openly ran against Israel’s brutal genocide which translates into the US’ never-ending wars, and the AIPAC – agents of that monstrous, misshapen dwarf of a colonial nuclear power in the Middle East – would defeat these traitorous poseurs, these oligarchs who so consistently sell us out in the house, senate, and whitehouse.

  9. rehmat1 March 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    During his speech at the US Knesset, Netanyahu invoked Jewish Holy Book of Esther to demonize Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei.

    “Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated,” Netanyahu said.

    Netanyahu was referring to Israel National News (January 28, 2010) report that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khamenie told the visiting Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz: “The region would soon witness the annihilation of the Zionist regime. The timetable for the destruction depends on the functioning of the Islamic countries and Muslim nations.”

    Israeli newspaper statement admits that Khamenei predicted the “annihilation” of “Zionist regime” – and not Jews or the state of Israel. But then, Zionist Jews are never known for a guilty conscience.

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/03/06/netanyahu-and-queen-esther-of-persia/

    • Kata Fisher March 5, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

      Rehmat:

      Iran’s Supreme Leader (I mean not the dead one) but the living – current one Ayatullah Ali Khamenei is misunderstood – I think and also believe.

      To me he is nothing else but as same as Old Testament saint, and Church-age is a bit messed up.

      In reality he would and can be seen as Pope in Church. I really think so. Religious leaders like to say things – and often would say mind-boggling things — things of conscience that are not subject to judging just by anyone.

  10. Beau Oolayforos March 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    Your final observation might have gone even further, as it seemed to me that the whole speech charade was at least partly a smoke screen – anyone with that much blood on his hands, who stinks in the eyes of the world, and will do so in future histories – he has every reason to try to change the subject. The probability that Obama also despises him has always been a hopeful sign, going forward.

  11. zak March 7, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Just wanted to comment on “national interests” and the reference to cutting the “umbilical cord”. It seems as though the conventional wisdom of the Israel lobby weilding power over congress, or US foreign policy, is being alluded to here, and if that’s the case I wonder if you truly believe this, professir Falk.

    There is always a lot of talk about unconditional US support for Israel, and so-called “pro-Israel” positions being adopted by US politicians, lawmakers and presidents, even to the point where it is claimed that many of these policies harm US “national interests”. But is it not extremely troubling that usually, no effort is made to define what those “national interests” are, and whether what elite politicians regard as “national interests” is similar to what large portions of the citizens regard as “national interests”, or if “national” even figures into the equation? For example, large majorties of Americans polled consistenly put healthcare and more equitable tax rates on the top of their list, in terms of priorities. In turn, US governments and politicians usually describe private, multi-tiered healthcare and unequatable tax rates which favour the business class, as being the best options for their society. Ignoring for a moment that the facts on these issue unambiguously reject the positions of the gov and politicians, the simple fact that the priorities of the leadership are radically opposed to the priorities of the people, tells us that what these groups regard as “national interests” is very different.

    So, in the case of Israel, we have congressional reps who vote every year to give $3 billion in aid every year to a country that is regarded as harming “national interests”. But does this harm “national interests”? Who’s “national interests”? So, of course, the average American who hears about this aid, alongside proclamations by their leadership that funding for foodstamps must be cut, that social security is unsustainable and that the poor must pull up their bootstraps, might think that this aid package is not in the national interests of the US, where desperately needed funds for social programs are being diverted to a foreign country. But what about the politicians, the ones who vote this aid in, how do they factor this into the national interests of their country? Beyond the rhetorical hysterics of Israel being an ally in the war on terror, or a bulwark against Russian influence, radical nationalism or whatever other boogeyman is conjured up in the current decade, there are clear national interests here at work – corporate welfare.

    So, of that $3 billion dollars a year, how much is used to make purchases from US companies in the defense and high-tech sectors? Well, I’ve read estimates ranging from 60-80%, must be spent on US purchases. Like the $1 billion given to Egypt every year, of which about 90% must be used to by stuff from US corporations, these aid packages are better understood as state subsidies for private US corporations. So, when cogress approves a re-up of ammunition for Israel during one of it’s many massacres in Gaza, does this really have anything to do with Israel, or is this about handing out guaranteed revenues and profits to their constiuents, US corporations?

    Sure, we can look at AIPAC and other Israel lobby groups and the money they throw at preferred candidates and the money they throw at the opponents of politicians who have fallen out of favour, but we can also look at 2 other things. When the Israel lobby is pushing for things that are in conflict with US corporate interests – say war with Iran, or large arms/equipment deals with Saudi Arabia – how well does AIPAC and co. fare? They utterly fail to exert any significant pressure whatsoever. It is clear from these types of examples – the Israeli lobby’s failures – that US corporate interests trump the Israeli lobby every time.

    And this leads us to the second item we should look, corporate campaign funding. If we’re serious about understanding why there is an “umbilical cord” between the US and Israel, we should look at corporate money from the defense and high-tech industries – the main beneficiaries of the aid to Israel, and the so-called “special relationship” – and then compare that to how much money the Israel lobby is estimated to be throwing around.

    In this context, it seems that apparent support for Israel, and acquiescence to the demands of the Israel lobby, is a actually just a correlation of interests. Israel seems influencial among the US political class only because their positions mirror, or at least don’t threaten, US corporate interests. If this is the case, then surely US elites are indeed making moves that they see as supporting the national interests of their country. The average American might not regard largescale corporate welfare as in their national interests, but elite politicians most certainly do.

    • Kata Fisher March 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      I have a reflection:

      Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei can be asked if the technology of development of nuclear substance/program/deal in Iran can be capsised into research for depleting of nuclear substance?

      It can not be done without Iran’s Scientists – I am starting to understand this because it has to take place in Iran, specificaly – they have spiritual authority over this technology that will make development of demolition of Nuclear accomplished goal by the turn of the next century.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebra#History

  12. Beau Oolayforos March 17, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    For what it’s worth, from one who happened to be in DC in the days immediately following this speech, the media silence seemed deafening. While admittedly a casual observer, I saw/heard not one word about it, neither in print nor on TV. Topic A was Hillary Clinton’s emails.

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