Monday, March 2, 2015

Netanyahu, Obama, Israel, Iran

As has been widely reported, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming speech before Congress has provoked anxiety in Israel, and not only from his political opponents.

It signals the power of the American president and the wish of Israelis to stay on the right side of their most important ally.

Be that as it may, the Israeli website, Debkafile responds to those who have criticized Netanyahu. They explain the Obama policy toward Israel and Iran.

Debkafile reports:

It took time to catch on to Obama’s two-faced policy towards Israel because it was handled with subtlety.

On the one hand, he made sure Israel was well supplied with all its material security needs. This enabled him to boast that no US president or administration before him had done as much to safeguard Israel’s security.

But behind this façade, Obama made sure that Israel’s security stayed firmly in the technical-material-financial realm and never crossed the line into a strategic relationship.

That was because he needed to keep his hands free for the objective of transferring the role of foremost US ally in the Middle East from Israel to Iran, a process that took into account the ayatollahs’ nuclear aspirations.
This process unfolding over recent years has left Israel face to face with a nakedly hostile Iran empowered by the United States.

While Israelis and American Jews are worrying about whether or not Netanyahu will make Obama look bad, they ignore more important events:

Netanyahu’s political rivals, while slamming him day by day, turn their gaze away from the encroaching Iranian forces taking up forward positions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where they are busy fashioning a Shiite Crescent that encircles Sunni Arab states as well as Israel.

It must be obvious that to bolster its rising status as the leading regional power, Iran must be reach the nuclear threshold - at the very least – if not nuclear armaments proper, or else how will Tehran be able to expand its territorial holdings and defend its lebensraum.

This is not something that Barack Obama or his National Security Adviser Susan Rice are prepared to admit. They are not about to confirm intelligence reports, which expose the military collaboration between the Obama administration and Iran’s supreme leader Aytatollah Ali Khamenei as being piped through the office of Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Israel is not the only country that is threatened by the expanding Iranian power. And it is not the only country that will be targeted by Iranian nuclear weapons. Israel is not alone in suffering the fallout of any deal that legitimizes the Iranian regime:

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Gulf are as dismayed as Israel by Obama’s regional strategy, which, stripped of its diplomatic veneer, boils down to a straight trade: The US will allow Iran to reach the status of a pre-nuclear power and regional hegemon, while Tehran, in return, will send its officers and ground troops to fight in Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan.

Perhaps the American Congress can do something to stop the advancing Iranian forces. But, if it is to do so, it will need to be sufficiently courageous to cause President Obama to lose face.


Sam L. said...

"Perhaps the American Congress can do something to stop the advancing Iranian forces. But, if it is to do so, it will need to be sufficiently courageous to cause President Obama to lose face." He will go psycho on us if that happens.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

re: Israel is not the only country that is threatened by the expanding Iranian power. And it is not the only country that will be targeted by Iranian nuclear weapons.

There is some madness here that I wish to understand.

Israel supposedly has nuclear missiles although you're not supposed to say this, and if they do, surely their have Iran targeted, among other Muslim targets.

Meanwhile the last president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is quoted as saying a decade ago he'd like to wipe Israel off the map, which could be just a geographical decision, or a military one, but we can excuse Israel for being concerned, if Iran got nuclear weapons would they use them to perform this literal action?

My problem is the same argument was used in 2003 by President Bush to invade Iraq, despite having no evidence of a connection to 9/11 or specific terrorism, or any evidence for checmical and nuclear weapons besides a bustering Saddam Hussein who was happy for everyone to think he had them.

So what are we supposed to do about nuclear weapons? Are they legitimate tactical weapons in war, or are they merely "insurance policies" against invasion?

It seems to me that we need to stop pretending we can hold nuclear weapons indefinitely, pretend they are purely defensive, while trying to convince the world that our rivals are less responsible than us, and can't be trusted with the same MAD polices which are past leaders openly supported, even if its not polite discussion since the USSR collapsed.

So here's my laundry list:
1) Israel should declare its own nuclear facilities and have them inspected by UN inspectors, and offer a detailed inventor of what they have.
2) Israel should declare its policy in what conditions those nuclear weapons would be used, and what conditions they would not be used.
3) Israel should explain why its madmen are less mad than Iran's madmen, and what safeguards are in place to prevent such current and future madmen from using these weapons in violation to publicly agreed policies.

So when Israel has completed these tasks, I'll consider not laughing at the hypocrisy when we talk about the risks of Iran having their own nuclear weapons to play with.

Katielee4211 said...

I don't agree with Ares and fail to see the logic in hi reasoning. Why should Israel need to do any such thing? Most in the Middle East are not concerned with Israeli aggression with said nuclear weapons. Israel isn't posing a proactive and aggressive threat to stability peace.
Iran on the other hand..very concerned. They wouldn't top with Israel, they would take aim at others in the Middle East, and not unlikely any identified as the Infidel--which would include me and a good many others.
The two don't belong in the same bucket. I find it odd you are neither discerning nor distinguishing the difference.
As far as Congress having sufficient courage? While many do, the leadership don't, so not likely to happen.
Thank-you for posting along with a link to Debkafile.

Ares Olympus said...

Katielee4211 said... Why should Israel need to do any such thing?

Before I answer "Why?", perhaps you can give me your speculative answer to my Israeli Task #2.

And you can also repeat a speculative answer to task #2 on Iran's policy. I expect your answer will be more menacing here.

At least Israel is supposed to be a democracy, but given the Israeli government can't even admit they have nuclear weapons, its hard to have a democratic debate over proper use of strategic nuclear weapons.

If I was Netanyahu, that's what I'd do, "People of Israel, let's play war, I'm going to give you 24 scenarios and each one will end with multiple choice answers including a nuclear attack."

It sounds like a fun dinner table game. Everyone can play!

Ares Olympus said...

I happned to this podcast talking about the predicaments of nuclear weapons, while we've avoided nuclear weapons in war for 70 years, there's no guarantee that this will last, and our own participation in this game of madness does not make this world safer.

The boastful quote from Nixon is certainly stirring of the hidden responsibility that the rest of us ordinary citizens don't have to feel responsible for, but we expect "secret policies" in a democracy to keep us safe
Elaine Scarry is Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value at Harvard. Her most recent book: Thermonuclear Monarchy, reminds us that one man, the President of the United States, has the power to end life for every one else by setting off nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon told reporters in 1974, “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.”

Professor Scarry says that this violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy. And she offers a new line of arguments and strategy for the nuclear disarmament movement.

At a time when the risk of nuclear war between the US and Russia around the conflict in Ukraine comes to world wide attention, the status of the nuclear weapons arsenals, and the question of who has the power to set them off becomes an existential question for all.

The book was published last spring:

And an article here too:

Ares Olympus said...

Here's another program worth listening to, with two speakers including James Walsh talking about Iran. Understanding the Call to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, Published on Oct 14, 2014
Co-sponsored with Massachusetts Peace Action

Held in honor of International Day for the Complete Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Jim Walsh is a Research Associate in MIT’s Security Studies Program. He is an expert in international security and has been to both Iran and North Korea to discuss nuclear issues. He has testified in Congress and written many articles and books about nuclear weapons. He will talk about his recent meeting with Iran’s President Rouhani, the current situation of the nuclear weapons states, and the challenges and opportunities facing disarmament.

Elaine Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. Scarry is the author of eight books, most recently Thermonuclear Monarchy. In it, she contends that nuclear weapons eliminate the citizenry and the legislature from the sphere of decision-making about war. Scarry shows how elements of the US Constitution can be used as tools to abolish nuclear weapons.

Or an article:
There is a burden on President Obama. The reality is, there are people in the U.S. Congress who don’t want any negotiated agreement with Iran. And no matter what the deal is, they’re going to oppose it.

My own view is, trying to get an agreement they’ll support is fool’s gold; that’s never going to happen. And so at some point you just have to say, “This is a good agreement, and I’m going to go out and sell it.”
The [U.S.] Director of National Intelligence has publicly testified that as it stands today, Iran has not yet made a decision to build nuclear weapons. And so Iran is at a crossroads. An agreement constrains their program, changes the politics within Iran, and has a chance of putting this whole issue on a different trajectory. But if you lose that opportunity, that will help the hardliners and bomb advocates in Iran, and we will end up in a very different place.

I don’t think it has to be a perfect agreement with Iran; it has to be good enough. An agreement would likely change the political relationship between Iran and the U.S. as well as the domestic policies within Iran. Rouhani’s status would improve, giving him credibility and the ability to move forward with his vision for Iran. Yes, the numbers [of centrifuges] are important, but they’re not as important as people would think, because agreements are really about political relationships.