At a news conference the other day, House Speaker John Boehner took up his role as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pro bono publicist by announcing that “a majority of Congress” opposes the Iran deal. You could almost hear the laughter emanating from the White House as the Speaker underscored his own irrelevance.
The uproar surrounding the Vienna accord signed by the P5+1 and Iran has reached such heights that it’s become mere background noise: it’s like we bought a house next to a freeway and quickly inured ourselves to the racket. After all, how seriously are we supposed to take Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s loud hysterics? These reached a crescendo of silliness the other day when, speaking at a memorial ceremony honoring the 111th anniversary of the death of Theordore Herzl, Bibi bloviated:
“Iran’s growing aggression is several times more dangerous than that of IS, which is dangerous enough. And this aggression, which aims to reach every corner of the world, has the ultimate true aim of taking over the world.”
For a country that’s on the way to world conquest, Iran should surely be spending more on the military: their $10 billion defense budget is relatively minuscule, as Juan Cole points out, “on the order of that of Norway or Singapore.” Their air force hardly exists. If global hegemony is indeed their secret agenda, then hadn’t they better get cracking?
And while this Fox News-like hyperbole may be amusing, there’s a sinister aspect to Bibi’s bombast: his downplaying of the relative danger of ISIS, or the “Islamic State,” as he calls it, in relation to Tehran. It’s clear the Israelis see Iran as the main danger to their interests, but isn’t it a bridge too far to minimize the threat posed by ISIS, which, after all, now shares a border with the Jewish state? Or maybe it all makes perfect sense: ISIS fighters haven’t traversed that border once. Indeed, it seems to be a popular spot from which Israelis watch the Syrian civil war as if it were an episode of Downton Abbey. And then there are those accounts of wounded Syrian rebel fighters being transported to Israeli hospitals, where they are treated free of charge and then returned to the battlefield….
Addressing the Israeli Knesset, Netanyahu announced that the Israeli cabinet had voted unanimously against the Iran deal – a proclamation of resounding presumption, since the Jewish state was not a party to the agreement. He went on to say that Israel reserves the right to “defend itself,” a not-so-subtle threat to launch a first strike against Tehran: “All the more so, we will reserve our right to defend ourselves against all of our enemies. We have strength, and it is great and mighty.”
I am Bibi, the Great and Powerful!
And yes, he is powerful, albeit his power lies not just in Israel’s military strength – including a huge inventory of nuclear weapons – but also in the effectiveness of the international army that exists in every Western country, an Israeli fifth column which takes its marching orders from Tel Aviv. Ha’aretz reports:
“Netanyahu’s spokespeople said he plans to ‘kill himself’ pursuing the last remaining option for scuttling the deal – preventing its ratification by the U.S. House of Representatives – by persuading Democratic congressmen to defect to the Republican camp and vote against their president.”
Yet even here, despite their legendary influence, Israel’s “great and mighty” lobby is being outflanked by President Obama. To begin with, even if every single Republican in both houses of Congress votes against the deal, it will take a lot for the Israel lobby to rope in enough Senate Democrats to give them the necessary super-majority to override a presidential veto. This is very unlikely.
Secondly, since the Iran deal isn’t a treaty but rather an executive agreement, the President doesn’t even need the consent of Congress: what our solons will be voting on is a Republican-sponsored measure of disapproval. That measure will have new sanctions attached to it, and yet even if it does garner a super-majority, Israel’s amen corner will have scored a hollow victory, since no other countries will honor those sanctions, including especially the other signatories (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China). This will merely underscore our weakness in the face of international opinion.
All this post-agreement brouhaha is just drama for it’s own sake, like a couple that has already gotten divorced and is just fighting over custody of the kids and the division of property. The real issue – the fate of the marriage – has already been finalized, and everything that comes after is just post-marital theatrics. The Iran deal is a done deal, and there’s nothing Bibi or his American sock puppets can do about it now. Their only hope is to prove – by hook or by crook – that Bibi’s predictions of Iranian cheating were prescient.
The real locus of Israel’s assault on the Vienna accord will take place over the coming months – and years – during which time they’ll be improving their intelligence capabilities in an effort to ferret out violations (or, rather, trumped up charges of violations) on Iran’s part. Accusations that Iran has violated the agreement won’t come directly from Israeli sources: Bibi’s bag men in the US and British media will be the preferred conduit, and we can expect the first fusillades shortly. Another source of Israeli disinformation is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), otherwise known as the “Council of National Resistance,” an Iranian exile group of neo-Marxist cultists: previously listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department, the MEK has dozens of American political figures on their fat payroll, and a long history of concocting forgeries purporting to document Iranian perfidy. The Israelis have been their longtime allies, and no doubt MEK will continue to play the same role – and be taken seriously by the Western media in spite of their dubious record.
So get ready for a long and contentious Israeli campaign to destroy the hopes for peace in the Middle East. Bibi – the Great and Powerful! – has just begun to fight.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.