Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What does Netanyahu hope to achieve through his address to Congress?

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James Fallows has some good observations (and links) in his Atlantic blog:

Why is Benjamin Netanyahu going ahead with his speech to Congress in a few hours’ time, despite complaints from all quarters about the damage it is causing? It’s a trickier question than it seems.

Was it simple tin ear on his side, and Ambassador Ron Dermer’s? The idea, as Netanyahu has preposterously claimed, that he “didn’t intend” any affront to the sitting U.S. president and was surprised by all the ruckus? Were they that ill-informed, naive, trapped in a bubble, or plain dumb?

I find that hard to believe, from a leader who prides himself on his U.S. connections and an ambassador born and raised in the U.S. and schooled by Newt Gingrich and Frank Luntz. If Barack Obama addressed the Knesset and said he had a “moral obligation” to criticize Netanyahu’s policies, would he then say he “didn’t intend” any offense? Please.

Was it crass election-year politicking on Netanyahu’s part, based on the need to get through this month’s election in Israel and the faith that eventually things would sort themselves back out with the United States? All politicians know that if they don’t hold office their platforms don’t matter, and most convince themselves that what is good for them is good for their country. So maybe he rationalized that getting through this election was worth whatever bruised feelings it might cause.

On this I defer to the reporting of The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, here, here, and here about the tensions between Netanyahu’s electoral incentives and long-term U.S.-Israeli relations. From my point of view, this would be the most benign explanation. Countries act in their own self-interest, and so do politicians.

Was it because Netanyahu has been such a prescient, confirmed-by-realityjudge of real-world threats that he feels moral passion about making sure his views are heard?

Hardly. I can’t believe that he’s fooled even himself into thinking that his egging-on of war with Iraq looks good in retrospect. And for nearly two decadesNetanyahu has been arguing that Iran was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. When you’re proven right, you trumpet that fact—and when you’re proven wrong, you usually have the sense to change the topic. Usually.

Was it because Netanyahu has a better plan that he wants Congress or the United States to adopt in dealing with Iran? No. His alternative plan for Iran is like the Republican critics’ alternative to the Obama healthcare or immigration plans. That is: It’s not a plan, it’s dislike of what Obama is doing. And if the current negotiations break down, Iran could move more quickly toward nuclear capacity than it is doing now—barring the fantasy of a preemptive military strike by Israel or the U.S. As Michael Tomasky put it in the Daily Beast: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2015 at 9:04 am

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