by James M. Wall
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his annual state visit this week to Washington he will be surrounded by sycophants and loyal political allies prepared to respond to his every demand.
I speak not of the Prime Minister’s traveling companions from Tel Aviv, but of the welcoming community of American politicians, fawning pro-Israel US media stars, and brain-washed interfaith-obsessed religious leaders, far right and mainstream, who have willingly traded their stewardship of the American Soul for a bowl of interfaith Zionist porridge.
I have to believe that US President Barack Obama knows this more than he is able to acknowledge. I could be wrong, but we won’t know that until Obama receives a second term.
For the moment, however, we can only hope he will orchestrate the political game skillfully enough to avoid sanctioning an attack on Iran until after the November election.
After that, we must hope he will use his second term to halt all this “bomb Iran” nonsense.
But this is election season and President Obama is steering the large ship of state in dangerous waters. He feels he has to say things to convince the public knows where the shoals are.
Still, it was depressing to see President Obama playing that political game in a carefully structured individual media interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the current reigning Zionist media voice, having replaced Tom Friedman from that post.
Goldberg used his exclusive post-Netanyahu media interview with Obama to toss up questions which sounded uncomfortably like AIPAC’s script.
He pushed Obama to reaffirm his love for Israel, and, by extension, led him close to McCain-like “bomb, bomb, bomb” Iran campaign rhetoric.
Obama told me earlier this week that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.”
He went on, “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
Why would Obama betray his own deep rooted principles to sing the war talk song? He should be in no danger in November, given that his potential Republican opponents have self-destructed in what may well be the most mindless of all political nominating campaigns in modern US history.
Richard Silverstein has his finger on the Israeli political pulse. He is also an American Jewish blogger with reliable contacts within Israel.
He has strong misgivings over the militancy of part of Obama’s Atlantic interview. But he did find another dimension in the interview, which describes the tricky game Obama is playing:
The other half of Obama’s message, and the one that I hope is operative and that Bibi hopes is window-dressing, is Obama’s warning that an Israel attack is a helluva bad idea:
The president also said he would try to convince Mr. Netanyahu, whom he is meeting here on Monday at a time of heightened fears of a conflict, that a premature military strike could help Iran by allowing it to portray itself as a victim of aggression. And he said such military action would only delay, not prevent, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
But this leaves his argument fatally flawed. An Israeli attack would not prevent an Iranian bomb, but somehow an American attack at a later unspecified date would. Of course, it’s true that the U.S. could inflict a great deal more damage on Iran’s nuclear program than an Israeli attack.
But even the U.S. military likely could not entirely destroy an Iranian program. We heard a week ago or so that Leon Panetta does not believe that America’s most potent bunker buster can penetrate the Fordow facility.
It is not his eventual Republican opponent that concerns Candidate Obama. What threatens his chances for re-election in November is the American war party of all political flavors that remains dedicated to the proposition that Israel’s control of the Middle East is the best guarantee of a permanent American control of the world’s economy.
Mark Landler provides the background in his Saturday New York Times story:
On the eve of a crucial visit to the White House by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, that country’s most powerful American advocates are mounting an extraordinary public campaign to pressure President Obama into hardening American policy toward Iran over its nuclear program.
From the corridors of Congress to a gathering of nearly 14,000 American Jews and other supporters of Israel here this weekend, Mr. Obama is being buffeted by demands that the United States be more aggressive toward Iran and more forthright in supporting Israel in its own confrontation with Tehran.
Those war party figures who are buffeting Obama are wrong, of course, horribly and dangerously wrong. A second term Barack Obama would have the vision and courage to say that. But if he loses the White House in November, he will do his post-presidential telling through op ed columns and think tank studies.
Out of office, a president can only talk. In power, he can act. Jimmy Carter experienced that reality in 1980 when Republican leaders, whose candidate was running behind the incumbent Carter, made a deal with Iran not to release their American hostages until after the election.
As a result, Carter was replaced by a washed-up Hollywood actor who read scripts like the experienced performer he had been. Several wars and a right-wing Supreme Court followed. The country is still paying for that damage.
Noam Chomsky, writing for Truthout, asks his readers to view the Iran crisis from a different perspective:
Concerns about “the imminent threat” of Iran are often attributed to the “international community” – code language for U.S. allies. The people of the world, however, tend to see matters rather differently.
The nonaligned countries, a movement with 120 member nations, has vigorously supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium – an opinion shared by the majority of Americans (as surveyed by WorldPublicOpinion.org) before the massive propaganda onslaught of the past two years.
China and Russia oppose U.S. policy on Iran, as does India, which announced that it would disregard U.S. sanctions and increase trade with Iran. Turkey has followed a similar course.
Netanyahu counts on his troops within the US power structures to keep that perspective out of sight. It is not good to trouble the locals with the larger pictures.
This explains why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using this annual visit to rally his American sycophants and loyal political allies to force Obama to fall into line and join Israel’s war strategy.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Israel, with its massive (some estimate as high as 200) nuclear weapons collection, secreted in Dimona, Israel, is the nation that is warning the world of what a great danger a nuclear-armed Iran presents to its neighbors.
Iran as a threat is the Israel/US perspective, not shared, of course, by other nations that know the real reason any nation wants nuclear arms is that it is under threat from a hostile neighbor armed to the teeth with nuclear arms.
A world with no nuclear arms would be far better off. But that nuclear genie escaped from the bottle when the United States developed nuclear arms capacity in World War II. Which is why we are, for the moment, stuck with it.
This week into our midst comes this man, Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of a foreign nuclear arms power, telling us that we must join with him in removing Iran from the potential list of nuclear powers.
I could be wrong, but I have to believe President Obama would like nothing more than to pull the plug on Netanyahu. And the Prime Minister knows it.
The visit of Netanyahu to Washington makes this a dangerous week. If Netanyahu’s American troops hold firm, President Obama’s poll numbers could slip. At that point, the most likely Republican nominee, former Governor Mitt Romney could storm into the fall campaign, anti-Iran guns blazing.
There is a crisis facing us, to be sure, but it is a crisis focused more on the American political election than on Iran gaining nuclear arms.
No one has shown the dangers we face from political miscalculation with greater insightful passion, than Director Stanley Kubrick.
Here are the two closing scenes from his 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.