This article was cross-posted to the Elder of Ziyon blog.
And if, in fact, [Iran] does not have some sense that sanctions will not be removed, it will not have an interest in avoiding the path that it’s currently on. — Barack Obama, March 3, 2015
I must admit that I feel sorry for President Obama, and not just because of his syntactical difficulties. I was able to watch PM Netanyahu’s speech in real time, while Obama was too busy, and had to content himself with looking at the transcript. To think, he even could have been present at the historic event had he wished to be!
I’m reminded of the day I stayed home in Pittsburgh to go to a football game, the day that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I have a dream’ speech in Washington. Or when a bunch of friends went to some music festival at Woodstock. I had to work that weekend.
Because it truly was historic. I’m sure that except for the most cynical partisans (e.g., Pelosi), all of those present felt it. The representatives of the American people, and not just the Republican ones, responded warmly and positively. Netanyahu spoke honestly, both intellectually and from the heart, and it was impossible to listen to him without perceiving this.
The speech had two parts, melded together. The first was the practical argument about stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The second was more of an emotional appeal for morality in policy, which stood in sharp contrast to the Kafkaesque language that issues from the Obama Administration.
Obama said that Netanyahu didn’t say anything new and didn’t offer a “viable alternative.” It is true that he didn’t say anything new — the nature of the deal and the fundamental problems with it have been explained over and over, by Netanyahu and others. But he did offer an alternative: a better deal that would seriously restrict Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and require Iran to change its behavior:
We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world. Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
Obama responded with a remarkably convoluted argument which first mischaracterizes the PM’s position, and then seems to say that since nothing we can threaten Iran with can stop them from developing nuclear weapons, we can only stop them by not threatening them.
I won’t take up too much space on this. Here’s an analogy:
Judge: You are guilty of bank robbery. I sentence you to 10 years in prison.
Bank robber: I won’t agree to more than 2 years. Take it or leave it.
Judge: Oh, OK then.
Iran has violated the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty that it signed, refuses to allow inspections of sensitive facilities, and maintains secret installations. It violates the UN Charter by committing armed aggression against its neighbors, calls for the destruction of another UN member state and exports terrorism and murder all over the globe. It needs to be called to account — made to stop its behavior by full-scale international sanctions of every kind, including military action if all else fails.
This is the moment — maybe the last chance — for the post WWII ideal of morality in international relations, for those who believe that cooperation can bring about peace and deliver human rights to step up and take the right side for a change. PM Netanyahu probably doesn’t expect much from the international institutions like the UN, nor, unfortunately, from the Obama Administration. But he does think the American people and their representatives will understand and respond.
Barack Obama considers “the nature of the Iranian regime’s ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism” a distraction. But the nuclear issue doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are moral reasons to oppose the regime, with or without nuclear weapons:
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Netanyahu listed some of the crimes that the Iranian regime has committed against Americans and innocent people all over the world. And he didn’t hesitate to describe it precisely as it is:
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever. Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Americans have been aching to hear words like this from its own leadership, but they will not. They won’t hear the word ‘jihad’, or even the word ‘enemy’ unless applied to an abstract concept like terrorism. They won’t hear terrorism connected to Islam. They won’t be told that the world’s conflicts are related to ideology, specifically Islamic ideology; rather, they’ll hear that the problem is poverty and economic inequality. They’ll even be told that the US can partner with Iran to stabilize Iraq, while Iran holds war games in which mockups of US naval vessels are blown up.
Americans and their congresspeople are not stupid, and they understand that there is something very wrong here, even sinister. Part of the impact that Netanyahu’s address obviously had comes from the contrast between his plain speech and the administration’s Orwellian discourse.
Obama’s media lackeys pulled out all the stops in minimizing the importance and content of the speech, in insulting and accusing Netanyahu. The New York Times, the Pravda of the Obama Administration, repeated that the speech contained ‘nothing new’ and called it “exploitative political theater.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said members of Congress “made an unprecedented spectacle of showing allegiance to a foreign head of state.” Jon Stewart called the event a “blowjob.” Yes, he did.
But the members of Congress who gave the PM some 24 standing ovations clearly didn’t see it that way. They understood that Benjamin Netanyahu is not only fighting for the survival of his nation and his people, but providing moral clarity about the intensifying conflict between the West and radical Islam — the conflict about which Barack Obama chooses to remain ambiguous.
The speech will probably have little effect on the Israeli election either way. Israelis have heard all of this before. Some appreciate Netanyahu as the world-class leader that he is, and others will continue to despise him because — just because. But that’s a different subject.
The importance of the speech will be for Americans, who heard a polite but devastating indictment of their president and his administration. They heard the facts. Now it’s up to them to ask the question that the facts demand:
Which side are you on, Barack Obama?