What Americans need to understand about Benjamin Netanyahu and his address to Congress, in which he sought to undermine the president’s effort to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran:
1. Netanyahu, his Likud Party, and his allies in the United States, principally the religious right and neoconservatives, hate to waste time talking when we could get on with yet another war in the Mideast –- this time against a country with a powerful military. That explains why he proposed no plausible alternative to the ongoing negotiations in his speech.
2. Like the neoconservatives and the religious right, Netanyahu was a most enthusiastic backer of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2002, when he also appeared before Congress, Bibi informed us all that “there is no question whatsoever that [Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] is seeking, is working, is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons.” As everyone now knows, he was dead wrong about that warning – Saddam had no nuclear program at all. (And keep that false, fear-mongering prediction in mind when Bibi warns about the imminent creation of an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal.)
He also offered the following assurance: “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone.”
3. Nobody has ever tried to cash in Bibi’s Iraq guarantee, of course, which was always worth less than zero (at last count, roughly $3 trillion and many thousands of lives less than zero). Now even he seems ready to acknowledge the worthlessness of his promise — because today he mentioned one of the most salient historical results of overthrowing Saddam: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa.” If you’re following the news, you probably already know that Baghdad is the capital of Iraq – from which all those “positive reverberations” were supposed to flow after March 2003.
Woe to Israel, whose leader shares the strategic genius (and intellectual honesty) of Washington’s own Bill Kristol. Why would we or the Israelis still listen to either of them?