By Harry C. Blaney III
The predicted reactions to Prime Minster’s Netanyahu speech in Congress echo the political divide in our nation; in the real world of security and common sense it was embarrassing, shallow and simply a trap laid by Bibi to create a conflict that would scuttle any hope for peace in the region for decades. Despite disclaimers, it was also aimed at dividing Americans and our political life.
Let me be frank and direct, these Netanyahu (also called “Bibi”) actions were at best provocations. They were more likely a deliberate trap to make America again act against its own security interests and that of the region as a whole. The underlying aim was get us into a headless preemptive war out of which no good could come.
Despite unconvincing and hypocritical phrases by Netanyahu that he did not create partisan division on support for Israel, along with his disingenuous praise for Obama’s support for Israel (which has been considerable), the main impression he left, which he knew, was that Americans could not trust the President nor the Democrats to safeguard the security of Israel. The further false impression he left was that any negotiations would, in his view, lead inevitably to Iran gaining nuclear weapons.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry have pointed out frequently that any agreement must prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and that any alternative was even more dangerous since it would lead even faster to the nuclear option without the constraints imposed by the interim agreement and the more comprehensive document that is on the table now and is still not agreed. The latest news is that the recent Geneva negotiations broke up without any real progress, but in these matters, people often play brinkmanship towards the end…..not a very smart tactic when so much is at stake. Whether the Netanyahu speech had an impact on the Iranian authorities to harden their position remains unknown.
It was clear that Netanyahu’s point was to undermine the Iranian nuclear negotiations, not because he thought they were insufficient, but he feared they were going to be successful and thus undermine his call for “war.” That logic in our crazy world shows what lengths Netanyahu would go to not just stop an Iran agreement, but to scuttle any further peace efforts in the Middle East. Further, his aim was to justify a policy of piece by piece displacing Palestinians on the West Bank and eliminating the possibility of the existence of a Palestinian state and its people’s rights. There is no other conclusion that one can find for such a reckless approach. The sad part is that this approach most en-dangerous long-term Israel’s own security and perhaps even its existence.
This Bibi strategy is simply suicidal for Israel. It must live in its neighborhood; it must find peace with others in the region. That is the only solution for Israel’s security. The rest, the illegal settlements, the killing of woman and children in Palestinian camps and in Gaza civilian urban warfare with tanks, bombs, and missiles, are all directed toward creating permanent conflict as justification for a policy of suppression, endless war, and power for Bibi and the militant right-wing to stay in control. Together this stratagem is creating insurmountable conditions for any peace agreement. A former head of the Mossad, Meir Dagen simply called the speech “bull shit” and that the Bibi, Likud Party actions would end with an “apartheid” state. A group of former Israeli “Commanders” from the security agencies and military also issued a statement against Bibi’s strategy and its undemanding the US-Israeli relationship.
One factor which may give some hope that Bibi’s stratagem will not work, is that Iran has the potential to curtail its nuclear program and thus to lift some of the sanctions and start exporting more of its oil, end its present isolation, and try to restart its economy for which it needs outside investment and trade. If Iran thought for a second, it clearly needs that more than any atomic bomb which is also suicidal. But the question is: will rationality and facts on the ground prevail or like Israel, will Iran’s leader’s irrational desire for perpetual war prevail? That remains a question for serious negotiations not war!
Finally, I want to be clear that any Middle East peace must provide for the security of Israel, which is in our interest, but also for the new Palestinian state and indeed for the region. That is rightly American policy and our key objective. War with Iran and within the region will not bring peace. Bibi seems to want not peace, but authoritarian dominance of the Palestinians. There is no other conclusion one can draw from his actions and indeed his speeches, despite him saying he “wants peace” – which seems a peace of the conqueror. That is not in the cards.
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