Mr. Netanyahu’s Blank Shot Strategy
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the American Congress with his landmark speech called and demanded his preferred outcome of “no deal” over what he warned against a “bad deal” should be the objective of the United States and the other five nations negotiating with Iran. Mr. Netanyahu’s blank shot strategy became more visible on Tuesday as he addressed lawmakers in Washington in his third address to the joint meeting of the House and the Senate. Mr. Netanyahu, who has been getting ready for an election in his country, is hoping with congressional support for his irrational and hardline position on Iran, he can convince American lawmakers for more sanctions on Iran that could end the negotiations altogether or perhaps cause Iran to walk away from the table. In his political calculation the Prime Minister is also using the United States Congress to try to showcase his credentials as a fierce defender and guardian of Israel’s security in advance of March 17 elections to voters at home.
Mr. Netanyahu, a seasoned and tough Israeli politician, well spoken and often charismatic, used his speech to offer dire prediction, historical references and arms control arcana. He provided references to Queen Esther, Moses, Robert Frost and nuclear centrifuges, not to mention various allegations that Iran has hidden, disassembled and misled at every turn. He also used an analogy with the television show Game of Thrones to reject the idea that Iran could be a regional bulwark against the Islamic State. What he offered to US lawmakers was far from building credibility and detailed alternatives/ solutions that is needed from a leader that is also getting ready for an election at home. In fact, the Prime Minister’s speech was not about solutions, at best, he is betting that he can raise the temperature in Congress, which is already skeptical of the deal taking shape between the White House and Iran.
What American lawmakers, that were listening to the Prime Minister’s speech to the joint meeting of the US Congress, should be asking is: if Mr. Netanyahu isn’t satisfied with an agreement that the White House and President Obama is pursuing with the other major powers that caps and curbs Iran’s program and installs new monitoring and other controls, just what, Mr. Obama asked, would Mr. Netanyahu do instead? Mr. Netanyahu suggested to “keep up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the prices of oil,” and “if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — as this often happens in a Persian Bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.” But the Prime Minister has failed to recognize that in the same Persian Bazaar, in order to move forward is to negotiate not to abandon it, unless the intention is not reaching a solution from the beginning.
There is no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a good speaker. But let’s be honest, his speech, as impressive as it might have been perceived by some in Washington and elsewhere, has truly insulted the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations and truly saddened many in Washington including the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as it was that condescension toward American knowledge and intellect. Regardless of the Prime Minister’s political calculation, this time his gamble in Washington has been extraordinarily offensive to Mr. Obama and the office of Presidency. It is highly unlikely that Mr. Netanyahu’s speech will change the position of Obama Administration but the Prime Minister’s lofty ideas and low politics certainly widens the rift with Israel’s greatest ally and strategic partner, the United States of America. And as it seems this is the cost Prime Minister Netanyahu is willing to pay to marginalize his country and at best to gain few extra seats in the parliament for his political party in two weeks.
*This piece has been submitted to PressTV’s View Points — Please visit PressTV.ir for more details.