I may revisit or do more on this for the weekly show if there are any developments, but for now, here's what I'm seeing.
So there's this:
The United States Congress has stirred up a hornet’s nest over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the legislative body next month...Good.
...and now VP Joe Biden has added fuel to the fire by announcing that he will be out of the country, leaving his presiding chair empty during the foreign leader’s visit. ...Good.
... [T]his bodes for increasing tension in relations between Israel and the U.S. ...Good!
... Some Democratic legislators have openly admitted that they may not show up for Mr. Netanyahu’s speech.Excellent!
The potential embarrassment for Netanyahu and the GOPpers has reached the point where not only have Israeli opposition leaders called on Netanyahu to cancel the speech, but so has the Anti-Defamation League, whose national director, Abrahm Foxman, said the speech would be "unhelpful" and Netanyahu should stay home.
Still, at this point it seems unlikely the speech will be canceled because the chance to address Congress just before a planned vote on a bill to tighten sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program is, according to Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, too valuable an opportunity to pass up.
That's because based on past statements, Netan-Yahoo is expected to use his speech to dismiss the negotiations with Iran as pointless without a "credible threat" of military attack and to endorse the push coming from the Congressional war hawks (including some Dimcrats) for toughened sanctions because of what he will doubtless describe as the looming threat of Iran getting nuclear weapons.
In other words, he'll be peddling the same crap he has for decades.
And I do mean decades: In 1992, that's 23 years ago, NetanYahoo, then a member of parliament, declared that
Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be "uprooted by an international front headed by the US."Note that would make Iranian nuclear weapons now 18 to 20 years over due. And that's not all. He repeated the claim, with the same time frame, two years later, in 1995.
In 1996, he told a joint session of Congress that the "deadline" for Iran getting nukes is "extremely close."
In February 2009, he told a Congressional delegation that Iran was probably only one or two years away from The Bomb.
In November that same year, he told another delegation that Iran already had the capacity to build a single nuclear weapon and could "make several bombs in a year or two."
In 2013, he claimed at various times that "Iran is getting closer" to his self-determined "red line" of nuclear weapons capability and is "putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so" and later that Iran is getting "closer and closer to the bomb" and still later that "Iran's work and quest towards the achievement of atomic weapons not only continues, it continues unabated - it's actually accelerated."
The old riddle "What is always coming but never arrives" now has two answers: "tomorrow" and "Iranian nuclear weapons."
Those 2013 claims came in the wake of the Israeli government starting to push the line that Iran must not only be prevented from getting nuclear weapons* but it must be required to dismantle its entire nuclear program, even those parts that don't have even a hypothetical connection to nuclear weapons. And it was ("Thank god for coincidence," as Phil Ochs said) about this same time that right-wingers in the Congress began to push for similarly moving the goalposts in a way that would increase the chances for a breakdown of talks - and thus war with Iran.
And so I watched a year ago as the hawks in Congress tried to pass a bill that would threaten Iran with increased sanctions if it didn't quickly reach an agreement to our liking, a bill that would be far likelier to undermine negotiations than to help them. That effort failed, fortunately, but here we are with a new Congress with the lunatics in control of the asylum and the same old nonsense - exactly the same old nonsense - is being dragged out again with bipartisan support, with demands for more and harsher sanctions if a deal to our liking isn't reached by the end of June.
NetanYahoo's speech is part of the campaign to pass such legislation. He knows it; that's why he's coming. Speaker of the House John Boner knows it; that's why he invited him.
Let's be clear about this. I said this last time around and it remains true: Anyone who votes for this bill does not want a settlement. Does not want negotiations to succeed. Does not want to avoid a confrontation. Does not want a peaceful solution. Voting for this bill is saying you are hoping for a war with Iran because that is what you are making far more likely.
And do not forget, never forget, not for a moment, that this is all happening even as the consensus position of the 16 US intelligence services is that Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon and stopped any efforts in that direction 12 years ago. Never forget that.
This bill is madness. Utter and complete madness.
Fortunately, while there may well be enough support to pass the damn thing, it's unlikely there is enough to overcome the threatened veto. Unfortunately, that potentially would not be enough: The very fact of passing it would raise legitimate questions in Tehran about just how much good faith the US is bringing to the bargaining and, more practically, legitimate questions about the willingness of Congress to enact any legislation that might be necessary to fulfill our part of any bargain.
Many of the same voices that lied us into a war in Iraq now want to do the same - have long wanted to do the same - in Iran. And Benjamin NetanYahoo is more than happy to help in the effort.
*None of this even gets around to addressing the issue of the right of powerful nations to force less powerful nations to do their bidding or the fact that some of the methods proposed for that end are clearly acts of war.
Sources cited in links: