Benjamin Netanyahu during his IDF days. Shamelessly pinched from here.
Before we get to Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, may I just pause to say: hubba hubba?
Now that I have squandered my right to be taken seriously, I proceed.
Not sure what I think about Bibi's having been invited to speak to Congress in the first place. My initial instinct was to think the act was shameful on Speaker Boehner (not Bibi's) part. Not unconstitutional, but shameful, as it undermines the President's foreign policy and no matter how feckless that policy or the President is, showing a divided face to the world is not going to strengthen, but weaken, the nation. The precedent is just awful, and in Democratic hands will lead, mark my words, to craptastic scenes of tinpot dictators coming before Congress to undermine any Republican president's foreign policy efforts. I thank God it didn't occur to Tip O'Neill to invite the Soviet Premier to Congress to talk about a nuclear freeze during the Reagan administration.
I can make two counter arguments. The first is that President Obama is so weak in foreign policy that his own administration is already operating at counter purposes with itself. The Washington Times ran a story in January that I am surprised didn't get more play. The thrust of the story was Hillary Clinton's utter incompetence and malfeasance in Libya, but to me the truly stunning revelation was that the Pentagon was actively undermining her and conducting its own negotiations.
Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.
The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.
Which leads to the second argument in defense of Boehner, which is that there comes a point where the threat to the nation or the world is so serious that you've no choice but to put the usual rules aside in a desperate attempt to thwart a deadly stupid policy. If the President has lost control of his own foreign policy, are you supposed to just sit there?
Then I heard Netanyahu's speech, which made a good case that Boehner's in this latter, uncomfortable position. The President is desperate to do something very foolish, to the entire world's harm -- and aren't we even going to discuss it?
I am not one who believes Iran can be prevented from developing the bomb if it's determined to do so ( my big gripe with conservative critics of the President has been that no one ever explains how they'd prevent Iran from getting the bomb -- they just complain that he's not stopping them). Nor do I believe for a second that Iran is going to abide by any agreement in the first place. So I don't see why we have to help them along by dropping sanctions. So I agree wholeheartedly with at least this portion of what Bibi had to say:
I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
So. Still thinking about it. Post speech, I feel mildly better about the fact of its having been given. To close on a style point, qua speech, it was enormously refreshing to hear a straightforward argument, introduced graciously, backed by evidence, and delivered as if something were at stake. As an audience member, I felt I was a grown up being addressed by a grown-up. It wasn't another Sophomore student government speech.