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On Iran Deal, Obama is the Adult Voice in the Room Once Again

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We have all seen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s little red line by now, I’m certain, used by him when he addressed the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the UN New York, September 27, 2012.

Many people in many countries were relieved to hear of President Obama’s Iran deal. It meant Republican chickenhawks and Benjamin Netanyahu would not get to condemn innocent people to death. We have already seen how Republicans reacted: childishly.

And unrealistically, and as you can see, this trend is continuing, even though as Jack Goldsmith wrote at Brookings a couple of days ago, Congress is powerless to stop it:

CBS News reported yesterday that thanks to the Iran deal, Netanyahu’s sack of woes is filling up. And Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said Netanyahu’s anti-Iran campaign is a “colossal failure.”

Yet according to Asher Schechter at Haaretz, not only is the Iran deal not Netanyahu’s worst defeat, but “it’s proof of his greatest triumph”:

“Netanyahu’s adversaries have it wrong: If the Iran deal proved anything, it is that the PM and his views have taken over political discourse in Israel.”

That is scary enough, since Netanyahu would prefer to skip to the endgame and just nuke Iran

. The guy would make Dubya look like a piker if he got the chance. It takes only the push of a button, and we could really get to missing the good old days of conventional war.

Unfortunately, he plans to control the political discourse in the United States as well – a country where he is not the Prime Minister. Haaretz’s Barak Ravid has reported that,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the United States cannot compensate Israel for the nuclear deal with Iran and said that he intends to fight it in Congress.”

As Jason Easley wrote here Sunday, this amounts to “conspiring” with Congress. And Republicans in Congress have already twice gone behind their own president’s back, once writing to Iran’s leaders to disregard our president, and then inviting Netanyahu to address them.

Since when do foreign leaders get to fight American diplomacy in Congress? At least have the decency, like the Kochs, to buy our congressmen and women first. That’s how it’s done here. Observe the niceties.

As we saw Sunday, Netanyahu claims that it’s a lie that everyone supports this deal (clearly other than the parties who negotiated it) but he is unable to name any of them outside Israel:

“People say everybody agree with this deal except for Israel. This is not true. First of all, everyone in Israel is united against this deal – opposition and coalition alike. Many in the region speak to me and tell me how they are worried that this deal will endanger their security in many ways.”

This, of course, is itself a lie, because there are those in Israel who support the deal. Like conservatives here, Netanyahu pretends to speak for people regardless of what those people might actually think.


Haaretz columnist and senior editor Bradley Burston wrote in his blog “A Special Place in Hell” yesterday that,

I live in Israel. I live in the shadow of Iran. I hold American citizenship as well as Israeli. I pay taxes to both countries. I vote in the elections of each.

In 2008 and 2012, I voted for Barack Obama. I’m glad I did.

I’m glad not only because of landmark changes to America on his watch, not only because of moments of inspiration, of unexpected hope, of enfranchisement, of movement on issues long dismissed as immutable.

I’m glad because I believe that no one but this president would have tried, and succeeded, to land a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons.

American Jews are divided, which has triggered a with-us-or-against-us response in Israel: Allison Kaplan Sommer asks, “Can U.S. Jews be enthusiastic cheerleaders for the Iran deal and still be ‘pro-Israel’?”

What is interesting in all this is that Netanyahu feels he has a right to make decisions about America’s foreign policy but the U.S. does not have the right to make any deals that concern Israel. Not only does he fail to understand who is guaranteeing whose survival, but he doesn’t understand that foreign leaders – even of friendly countries – do not get a say in America’s foreign policy.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has said that, “friends can disagree,” but this is where right wing and left wing ideology separate. There is no disagreeing for conservatives; there is only diktat. We have seen what happens when petulant Republicans don’t get their way: everything comes grinding to a halt.

Netanyahu might be dealing with a military establishment that now says he is wrong on Iran, but when CBS News reported yesterday that “Netanyahu’s sack of woes [is] filling up after Iran deal,” they should have mentioned President Obama’s woes.

Like Boehner’s “Obama did it so it’s wrong” approach. Or Breitbart’s latest scheme, that the states can refuse to comply with the Iran deal even if Congress can’t override Obama’s veto. We did away with states having their own foreign policy with the Articles of Confederation.

But then, Republicans have never really accepted the Constitution as the law of the land. It’s a liberal document, after all. Go figure.

And then there is the nonsensical Scott Walker, who has no earthly idea what he’s talking about at the best of times, but is completely out of his depth where foreign policy is concerned:

Netanyahu brought all his troubles on himself, but it is President Obama, saddled with a treasonous Republican-controlled Congress, who will have to be the adult – again – and clean up the mess.

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