Later On

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

On the Use and Misuse of History: The Netanyahu Case

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Some very interesting responses to the Netanyahu speech, as reported in James Fallows’s blog. I did wince at “centers around” from the historian: it should be “centers on.” To take one example:

. . . 2) The modern history that got left out of the speech. Gary Sick, of Columbia University, has studied Iranian politics and policy for more than 40 years. After Netanyahu’s speech he wrote an assessment, including its strength as a “barn burner of a campaign speech” for the Israeli elections, but also its weakness as a studiously misleading description of the real state of negotiations with Iran.

.You don’t want to include anything that will detract from your central purpose [of campaigning in Israel, where the speech came on at 6pm local time]. So, what did Netanyahu leave out of his speech?

1. Iran has dramatically reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium. Remember Bibi’s cartoon bomb that was going to go off last summer? Well, it has been drained of fuel, and that will probably continue to be true indefinitely. No mention.

2. Inspections will continue long after the nominal 10-year point, contrary to his claim that everything expires in ten years. No mention.

3. The heavy water reactor at Arak will be permanently modified, so it produces near zero plutonium. Not only did he not mention it, but he listed the reactor and plutonium as one of his threats.

4. His repeated assertion that Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons ignores the judgment “with high confidence” of both American and Israeli intelligence that Iran has taken no decision to build nuclear weapons. It also contradicts the repeated findings of the IAEA that no materials have been diverted for military purposes.

5. All the major countries of the world are co-negotiators with the United States, so a U.S. congressional intervention that killed the deal will not only affect us but all of our major allies. If we stiff them, there is no reason to believe the international sanctions will hold for long. No mention.

Are these simply oversights in the interests of time? Why did he leave out only the facts that cast doubt on his central thesis?

Read all of Gary Sick’s piece; compare it with Netanyahu’s end-days warnings about the emerging “bad deal”; and while you’re at it think back to people who were telling you in 2002 and early 2003 to be skeptical of the end-days warnings about Saddam Hussein’s imminent and existential threat to the world. . . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 March 2015 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

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