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3 Things Americans Need To Understand About Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech

Editor's Blog

3 Things Americans Need To Understand About Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech


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?

Image: YouTube

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. pm1 March 3, 2015

    He’s a child murdering war-criminal. Shame on him and his mindless gop hosts.

    1. FireBaron March 4, 2015

      You know, I would not have shed a tear had his plane been forced down over the Netherlands.

  2. charleo1 March 3, 2015

    To quote the inimitable George W. Bush. “Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice…”

  3. hannamontana80 March 4, 2015

    Maybe it’s just me, but Obama seems a bit aloof when it comes to understanding the serious nature of the ISIS threat.

    1. FireBaron March 4, 2015

      It’s you. He is well aware of the threat and its impact. Why have you not commented on the drone strikes that have hit IS strongholds? Why have you not commented on the military support we have provided to our friend and ally, Jordan, in their fight against IS. Would you prefer we once again have boots on the ground fighting against an enemy who goes masked, so we have no idea who they actually are?
      If you are so concerned about the threat of IS, why don’t you go to Jordan or Syria and join one of the groups fighting against them? Also, please keep on context. This article is about Bibi’s speech, and how it’s the same one (with different players) as his oh-so-accurate 2002 delivery.

      1. silas1898 March 4, 2015

        Iran has been “ONLY ONE YEAR AWAY!” from a nuke for over 20 years.

    2. itsfun March 4, 2015

      They are only the JV

    3. silas1898 March 4, 2015

      This approach is much better than Bush’s little Yosemite Sam type tantrums.

  4. FT66 March 4, 2015

    The whole Netanyahu speech was about testing how people think at the same indirectly presenting the recipe for going again to war. Oh! yeah after Iraq debacle war and one more time is needed this time in Iran. The man think Americans are all that stupid, can’t realise anything. He put these words in one sentence: “Even if going alone, we will, BUT I know America stands with Israel”. Here is what folks ask themselves: If he is not re-elected (there is a possibility), will those who supports what he said will still persuade the New elected leader to do the same? And if re-elected, will Congress together with Netanyahu go to war with Iran? Americans would like to know these.

    1. silas1898 March 4, 2015

      Could the Republican Congress declare war on Iran and Obama then veto it? Or as Commander in Chief, maybe send a couple Texas National Guard squads over and call it a day?

      1. FT66 March 4, 2015

        Thats why I was puzzled with Netanyahu speech. Will one speech be enough for going to war OR will he be invited again to make another speech? I can reckon the whole move was a total shamble. Not thought through first.

  5. itsfun March 4, 2015

    His speech was about the survival of his country.

    1. Grannysmovin March 4, 2015

      His speech was the same tune he has been singing the since 1992 with the U.S. as backup singers.
      1992: Israeli member of parliament Binyamin Netanyahu predicts
      that Iran was “3 to 5 years” from having a nuclear weapon.

      2001 Netanyahu Speech: This is why the US must do everything in
      its power to prevent regimes like Iran and Iraq from developing nuclear
      weapons, and disarm them of their weapons of mass destruction. This is why the US must do everything in its power to prevent regimes like Iran and Iraq from developing nuclear weapons, and disarm them of their weapons of mass destruction. http://www.freerepublic.com/fo

      Testifying before the House Government Reform Committee Sept.
      2002 Netanyahu said: “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/18/
      http://www.c-span.org/video/?1… @1:11:44

      In July 2013 Netanyahu’s prescription: The U.S. “should ratchet up the sanctions and make it clear to Iran that they won’t get away with it. And if sanctions don’t work and they have to know that you’ll be prepared to take military action, that’s the only thing that will get their attention.”

    2. hjs3 March 4, 2015

      You’re right as rain or partly so to be sure but gotta believe that Bibi’s fear mongering, bullshit – bluster yesterday was as much about his OWN political survival in two weeks and a decidedly worsening economy in Israel. Of course all of the circus act could blow up in his face too…

    3. Frank KIng March 4, 2015

      Israel has survived since 1947 with the financial backing of the US in an area of the world where struggle for survival affects more than just the Israelis. The United States has a wide variety of interests and concerns in the region. Israel is just one of a number of them. Line forms to the right.

  6. Frank KIng March 4, 2015

    The religious right, fundmentalist, evangelical congress was in a state of euphoric bliss as they were “raised” to appalud Natanyahoo’s warmongering comments at least forty times–no biblical reference. Being an “ally” for one reason or another does not allow one nation to meddle in the diplomatic affairs of another. The President has to deal with the savagery of ISIS, Boko Haram and al Qaida with bombs and drones and alliances while attempting to negotiate and agreement with iran to stop the proliferation ot nuclear activity for the security of all nations in the region. Israel is just another problem. Why is the congress of the US a party to this guy and his views to undercut on going deliberations that could be successful in bringing about a desired settlement. The right wing in the US gets “curiouser and curiouser” each passing day in its attempt to mismanage the “governance” of the country.

  7. midway54 March 4, 2015

    This guy is a rude, loudmouth Israeli war monger, who stirred up mostly the Plutocratic Party trained seals who slapped their flippers together almost constantly as he ranted and who had no problem with him as a foreign diplomat shamelessly coming into this Country and sticking his face into its foreign policy affairs in front of Congress assembled.

  8. stsintl March 4, 2015

    “Nightly Business Report” last night reported on PBS that world oil prices jumped after Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of the US-Israeli Congress yesterday.
    So, it seems that, this continuing blood-shed in the Middle East and North Africa has nothing to do with security of Israel or establishment of a Islamic Caliphate.
    The Oil Tycoons of US and UK are using Zionism while ISIS and Boko Haram are using Jihadism to recruit war mongers to control the Supply Side of oil.
    With continuing, and even stronger, sanctions against Iran and disruption of oil fields in Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria, the oil supplies will remain under control keeping the prices high.
    The kings of Saudi Arabia have been under US control since the oil was found there. The oil tycoons of US and UK need regime change in oil rich countries, wherever they don’t abide by their rules.
    Meanwhile, the merchants of death are happy selling their weapons and armaments to both sides as they join the top 1% of Fortune magazine list.

  9. viola March 5, 2015

    The religious nuts of USA only support Israel because they believe in the second coming. If such a thing is true, why would Jesus want to go back to Israel, it sucks. Maybe he’ll choose the outback of Australia instead.

  10. lsb_11 March 5, 2015

    The complete failure of the writer to bypass the FAILURE of our failed president’s cowardice in leaving Iraq with no measures of a the take over of ISIS. The lack of understanding and political games played by this idiot in the WH to abandon the exit strategy already in place to keep Iraq safe from insurgencies we dismantled with our blood and treasure.

    ISIS is nothing more than a proxy of Iran and our idiot in the WH is so anxious to get in bed with the devil, he is willing to sell out our allies and illegally makes a deal without the approval per the constitution with the senate.

    Apparently, the writer and most commenters are void of any historical research and the past Iranian aggressions.


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