Sunday, March 08, 2015


"No one could claim Benjamin Netanyahu lacks chutzpah. Snubbing a Democratic US president by appealing to a Republican Congress to wreck the White House’s set piece initiative two weeks before facing his own election — well, that takes gumption. But guts are not the same thing as wisdom. It is doubtful Mr Netanyahu’s gambit will have persuaded US lawmakers to change their minds. Most were already sympathetic to Israeli misgivings about the outlines of Barack Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran. By making it a US partisan issue, Mr Netanyahu’s flouting of norms has opened cracks within pro-Israeli groups where none existed. He has also invited deeper scrutiny of his own objections to any kind of Iran agreement. Mr Obama still has much ground to cover before he can secure an acceptable deal. Even then, it may be unattainable. But he has an obligation to try. Ironically, Mr Netanyahu’s actions may have made his task a little easier. Mr. Netanyahu’s main objection is that Iran can never be trusted to honour any nuclear deal. Only a full dismembering of all of Iran’s civil nuclear capacity — every centrifuge it possesses and every ounce of enriched uranium it has produced — would be acceptable to Israel. Even then, US sanctions on Iran should still be kept in place. As the chief sponsor of Syria’s Assad regime, Hizbollah and other regional instruments of terror, Iran should continue to be treated as a pariah. But this sets the bar unrealistically high. Under Mr Obama’s deal, Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity would be drastically pared back and subject to a clear regime of international inspections. It would push Iran’s “nuclear breakout” capacity to one year, enough time for the world to detect and react to any breach. The deal would hold for a minimum of 10 years with the hope that Iran would have moderated its stance towards the world within that time, and relaxed its politics at home. In exchange, the US and its allies would ease the sanctions that are crippling Iran’s economy."
Leader, "Netanyahu’s brazen challenge to Obama". The Financial Times. 3 March 2015, in
"From the American perspective, the main question about Iran is, assuming it is a threat, can it be destroyed militarily? The Iranians are not fools. They observed the ease with which the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. They buried theirs deep underground. It is therefore not clear, regardless of how far along it is or what its purpose is, that the United States could destroy Iran's nuclear program from the air. It would require, at the very least, special operations on the ground, and failing that, military action beyond U.S. capabilities. Aside from the use of nuclear weapons, it is unclear that an attack on multiple hardened sites would work. The Israelis are quite aware of these difficulties. Had it been possible to attack, and had the Israelis believed what they were saying, the Israelis would have attacked. The distances are great, but there are indications that countries closer to Iran and also interested in destroying Iran's nuclear program would have allowed the use of their territories. Yet the Israelis did not attack. The American position is that, lacking a viable military option and uncertain as to the status of Iran's program, the only option is to induce Iran to curtail the program. Simply maintaining permanent sanctions does not end whatever program there is. Only an agreement with Iran trading the program for an end of sanctions would work. From the American point of view, the lack of a military option requires a negotiation. The Israeli position is that Iran cannot be trusted. The American position is that in that case, there are no options".
George Friedman, "Geopolitical Weekly: Netanyahu, Obama and the Geopolitics of Speeches". Stratfor: Global intelligence. 3 March 2015, in
"My moment came at dinner in the embassy - Dulles, Eden, Livvy Merchant, Douglas MacArthur, Ambassador Dillon, Gladwyn [Jebb], Harold Caccia and Tony Rumbold....I found them amenable to the idea of trying to get concessions out of Israel....Dulles, however, gave us an enlightening account of the power and influence of the Jews in America. Subscriptions to Israel, alone of all non-local charities, are (quite illegally) exempt from tax. But he said we have another twelve months to do something in, before another election looms up and makes all action impossible."
Sir Charles Arthur Evelyn Schuckburgh. Descent to Suez: diaries 1951-1956. (1986). pp.242-243.
Whether the Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu's speech this week to the American Congress was a 'brazen challenge' is in the eyes of the beholder. Certainly, it is a highly unusual thing for a foreign leader to make a speech before the parliament of the country in which he is a guest to attack the policy of the home government. But then again, the American-Israeli relationship has defied the grounds of 'normality' for quite awhile now. As John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt have shown in their book (which per se merely brought out into the open the findings of many books and articles by professional historians who specialized in this area), the normative aspects of foreign relations are strikingly absent in America's relations with the Jewish State 1. With that being said and understood, it would be truer to argue that Netanyahu's 'brazen challenge' to the current American Administration is merely the ne plus ultra of the peculiarity of Washington's relations with Tel Aviv. After all, the current Israeli government's position on the Western Powers nuclear negotiations with Persia are hardly novel. It has been stated and reiterated time and again for several years now. And insofar as Netanyahu singularly failed to waive the stick of preventive air strikes to 'solve' the problem posed by Tehran's quest for nuclear power (and or nuclear weapons), then it could be argued that there has been 'progress' in how Israel views the matter of resolving the problem posed by Persia's nuclear ambitions. It is useful to remember that it was not too far distant in time to hear sotto voce, from either Israel or its American supporters that if the negotiations with Persia did not result in an acceptable modus vivendi by day x, then Israel would take matters into its own hands. AKA endeavor by means of air strikes to destroy Persia's nuclear programme. Well day 'x' has come and gone. Several years and several times ago, and Israel has chosen not to act. The fact of the matter is, that as George Friedman of Stratfor cogently argues, Israel lacks the requisite military capacity to unilaterally to destroy Persia's nuclear infrastructure 2. Accordingly, with a military option not available, Israel has instead chosen to try to propel the Americans to either ensure that any agreement is airtight as it relates to Persia's nuclear programme, or conversely to employ military means to destroy said nuclear programme in the absence of an agreement acceptable to Israel. Hence the point of the Israeli premier's speech to the America Congress is to lobby the very same to prevent the American administration from negotiating any agreement acceptable to the mullahs of Persia. Knowing this to be the case himself, one can only wonder what au fond the Israeli's premier true motives are. Ones that comes immediately to mind is of course 'regime change'; and no matter how desirable that outcome might be in the abstract, that fact is that with the ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as the concurrent upheavals in Yeman and Libya, to endeavor to overthrow the detestable regime in Persia would be pure madness at this point in time. Like it or not, some mutually acceptable modus vivendi agreement over the nuclear issue with the regime in Tehran is vital. The Israeli premier's challenge to the proposed agreement must be rejected pur et simple. And one may only hope in doing so that Netanyahu will be ousted in the forthcoming Israeli elections.
1. John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. (2007). See also for a historical perspective the following two books by Peter Hahn: The United States, Great Britain, and Egypt, 1945-1956: Strategy and Diplomacy in the Early Cold War(1991) & Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy Toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945-1961 (2004).
2. Friedman, op. cit. This point is emphasised greatly and at length, by someone who I conceive of as the premier American military 'expert', Anthony Cordesman, in his: Iran, Sanctions, Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change. (2014), pp. 134-142 and passim.


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