As of today, it seems that about 25 Democratic members of the House and 4 senators will be skipping PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as a result of White House pressure (or out of a desire to help their beloved president — take it either way).
Some think that Netanyahu made a mistake by accepting Speaker Boehner’s invitation. It certainly has given the White House an opening to send its minions out to bash Netanyahu. But in order to decide whether the speech is a good idea or not, we need to understand its objective.
Many people think the objective is to support possible sanctions legislation or to spur Congress to demand oversight over the Iranian deal. But while these wouldn’t be bad things, it is hard to imagine that any possible additional sanctions could effect Iran’s progress. And even if Congress were able to shoot down the deal, do you think it would matter?
No matter what kind of deal is signed or not signed, Iran will continue its development activity. It has consistently cheated on its obligations to the IAEA, and everyone knows that it has secret facilities in addition to what it has declared. The point of the deal for Iran is to give its actions legitimacy — and to delegitimize an Israeli attempt to stop them by force.
So in my opinion, the message that Netanyahu will deliver will be something like this:
We gave you a chance to stop Iran by diplomatic means. We stayed our hand in 2012 because you assured us that Iran would not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. Now it’s clear that the diplomatic effort has failed, and we know that you will not use military force.
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat. We will not permit our nation to be threatened in this way. Therefore, we are putting you on notice that when the time is right, we plan to take action.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
I expect that there will be a Security Council resolution condemning, even punishing Israel after the fact, and if Obama is still in the White House the US will not veto it. Netanyahu will articulate the legal case that I’m sure the Foreign Ministry is building right now, the argument that the Iranian nuclear project constitutes aggression against Israel and that the inevitable military action that Israel will take is legitimate self-defense. It would be helpful to this argument if the deal falls apart first, but realistically it is unlikely that Obama will allow it to.
The failure to stop Iran is a massive failure for US policy in the region if the policy is intended to prevent war, because war is the certain outcome of Iran crossing the nuclear threshold.
One wonders whether this obvious conclusion is lost on the administration, or if possibly they think that war might solve some problems for them. Yes, it sounds extreme — but what are they thinking?