Understanding the Netanyahu speech to Congress
The US entertained a very special foreign dignitary this week, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This visit from Netanyahu comes after Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reached out to have the Israeli leader speak to Congress. On the surface, all of this would be benign if both Speaker Boehner and Sen. McConnell had talked to the Obama administration about formally inviting a foreign dignitary to speak to Congress or in what political scholars refer to as a “dick move” by the Republicans.
Traditionally anything dealing with foreign policy – including inviting foreign leaders to Washington – is done by the White House. Also the last time I checked neither the Speaker of the House nor the Senate Majority Leader has a foreign policy branch on their team or an affable second-banana that give amazing shoulder rubs to wives of governmental officials.
Then again, it’s Israel. It is one of the US’ closest allies on the international stage, what could Netanyahu possibly talk about that would cause a ruckus?
Currently the Obama administration is in the middle of peace talks with Iran over their nuclear program. President Obama believes that the best option is to negotiate with Tehran over a nuclear program with strict limits in exchange for limiting international sanctions. Much like the Cuban sanctions, years of economic sanctions have not slowed down Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama hopes that this approach will do just that.
On the flip-side, Netanyahu feels that the Iranians aren’t negotiating in good faith, as in they will develop a nuclear weapon no matter what. So all these talks are doing is allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon without consequences from the international community! Netanyahu’s speech was essentially a ploy to try to kill the talks by persuading Congress to create new sanctions.
It’s like if Netanyahu is that yuppie who wants to gentrify a minority neighborhood in a big city. Sure he wants to live in a vibrant/ethnic neighborhood and create a world where Israel can peacefully coexist in the Middle-East, but at the same time wants it on his terms similar a yuppie would complain they should get rid of a dry cleaners – that has been servicing the neighborhood for decades – for a vegan bakery yet complain that the neighborhood is losing its “identity” all in the same time!
It’s understandable why Israel would be wary of an Iran with even peaceful nuclear intentions. Years of hostility between both nations haven’t necessarily created a trusting relationship. Like Netanyahu said Tuesday,
“Only the United States can lead this vital international effort to stop the nuclearization of terrorist states. But the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close…but, ladies and gentlemen, time is running out. We have to act – responsibly, in a united front, internationally. This is not a slogan. This is not over-dramatization. This is the life of our children and our grandchildren. And I believe there is no greater, more noble, more responsible force than the united front of democracy, led by the world’s greatest democracy, the United States.”
So in many ways, time is of the essence. If you don’t act now then there could be prolonged strife in the Middle-East for a long… hold up, what (???)… that was a speech Netanyahu gave in 1996 to US Congress? Well I’ll be damned…
For decades, we have been dealing with Iran in a certain context that hasn’t necessarily been the most fruitful. The problem lies in how Netanyahu looks at the current geo-political climate. He believes that isolation of Iran through economic sanctions and constant threat of military strikes is the way to go, while everyone waits as Iran’s current regime collapses.
But that’s the thing. It hasn’t worked.
Much like America’s stand on Cuba, the international community has tried to isolate Iran for years to no avail. In cases like these, Netanyahu looks to be behind the times.
As for the Republicans wanting to stick it to President Obama on foreign policy.
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