Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (hereinafter referred to as “Bibi”) and President Obama (hereinafter referred to as “The Prez”) each got to chalk one up in the “win” column yesterday. Both victories are a little bit national security, a little bit political one-upmanship.
The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight on May 2 will be a pay-per-view spectacular like we’ve never seen before. The fight should result in a clear winner and all you have to do is bet your money and root for your guy.
The showdown between The Prez and Bibi yesterday was a tough one, though. In the absence of judges and without a knockout punch, there’s no clear winner. Bibi’s victory may be short lived if he doesn’t prevail in the March 17 election in Israel.
The Prez’s victory came when Speaker of the House, John Boehner (hereinafter referred to as “Boner” or “The Orange One”) had to put his tail between his legs and announce that he couldn’t stop a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
In other words, House Republicans couldn’t find a way to hold funding of the nation’s security network hostage to their whimsical immigration plots. To date, their mantra on immigration reform is, “Go away, we’re full.”
Boner didn’t step into the ring yesterday, but he definitely had a dog in the fight. Some may even think of Boner as THE dog in the fight.
Inviting Bibi to speak before a joint session of Congress from the same podium from which The Prez delivers his State of the Union address was a ballsy move for the The Orange One. Especially for a guy who hasn’t shown much in the way of balls, lately.
For Bibi to use that podium to tell us what is wrong with our president and our foreign policy was pretty ballsy, too. Then again, Bibi has shown no shortage of those treasured orbs in his lifetime.
Make no mistake, I am a militant Zionist. If I could press a button and annihilate all who would stand against Israel within a 250-mile buffer zone of her borders, that button would already have been pressed.
Unlike Staples, though the Middle East offers us no “Easy” buttons. This is not about my support for Israel or Bibi and to conflate those issues is a mistake of epic proportion.
The same people who tell us that American Jews need to support Bibi unconditionally also question the ability of Muslims to be good Americans. Splitting your loyalties is not easy. Luckily, we’re not often called upon to do it.
Unlike Boner, Bibi’s problem is not ethical, it’s existential. It’s also political. Only the man himself knows his true motives for appearing before Congress and I suspect that even he suffers a bit of the Blurred Lines.
For the rest of us, including AIPAC , we didn’t hear anything new and we didn’t see any new Road Runner cartoons. In fact, Bibi first warned us of the immanency of Iran’s coming nuclear power in 1996 .
He also promised us, in 2002 that toppling Saddam Hussein would bring peace and tranquility to the Middle East.
It will be difficult in the future, even for The Prez’s most ardent detractors to deny that quashing the Sunni government in Iraq and sending the Baathists scurrying is what gave rise to ISIS. Not understanding the delicate balance in the region between Sunni and Shia Muslims was the ultimate blunder in our invasion of Iraq.
If George W. Bush didn’t understand it, Bibi should have.
No one is arguing that the threat from Iran isn’t real, imminent and inevitable. Bibi, however offered no solutions. He urged the United States to keep economic sanctions in place, many of which would stay in place alongside the deal currently being negotiated. Not that sanctions have ever proven to hurt any government more than its citizens.
Bibi insisted on “further nuclear restrictions”, even though he’s not a party to the negotiations and doesn’t really know what restrictions are being negotiated. The truth is, Iran is a big country and if they have secret nuclear facilities, we won’t be able to inspect them. That’s what secret means. Keeping Iran at the table may be the best way to assess the state of their nuclear capabilities.
Lastly, Bibi thinks we should make any deal permanent-as opposed to the 10-year treaty National Security Advisor, Susan Rice outlined. This from the guy who said that Iran can’t be trusted, anyway.
If they can’t be trusted, they can’t be trusted indefinitely, much less for 10 years.
Around the middle of the 19th Century, British statesman and twice prime minister, Henry John Temple-3rd Viscount Palmerston-noted, “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”
For the foreseeable future, America and Israel will have permanent, common interests. As democracies, the nations shall remain friends, long after the departure of their current leaders.
What none if us need is a repeat of yesterday’s melodrama, which only served as a place for the The Prez’s detractors to come out and “detract”, for Israel’s supporters to show their support and for the GOP to yank at Jewish purse strings.
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