|The Lessons Of History|
Thinking Things Over
|By Jerry E. Clark|
March 4, 2015 -
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a very strong, detailed speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. The reaction was, understandably, mixed.
On the one hand, there were numerous standing ovations when the prime minister opined how important the U.S. - Israeli relationship remains, when he said that Israel could defend itself if it had to go it alone, and when he said that Iran's history of state-sponsored terrorism had to end. On the other hand, top Democrats like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated that she believed the words of Netanyahu were insulting to the point that she nearly cried during the speech. Other Democrats said that they heard "nothing new," and charged that the speech was little more than a political stunt.
(Virginia Senator Tim Kaine didn't attend the speech. As most remember, Kaine was one of the first supporters of the Barack Obama candidacy way back in 2008).
Natanyahu decried any potential deal with Iran as insufficient if the details allowed Iran ever to get to the point of building a nuclear bomb. Since the rumored details of the current negotiations appear to have language that would allow Iran a relatively free hand after, say, a 10 year period, Netanyahu told his audience that Israel could not accept that kind of arrangement. Moreover, he said, the world would be subjected to a fast Middle East nuclear buildup among neighboring states if Iran were not prevented from getting nuclear weapons permanently.
The personal relationship between President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu is about nil; their political philosophies are widely different. Obama has a left-of-center view that Israeli policies have caused most of the tension in the Middle East. Netanyahu's view is that Obama and his supporters are both naive and inexperienced when it comes to the tinderbox that the Middle East has become.
Netanyahu told the audience that no deal is far better than a bad deal. He attempted to dissuade his opponents from taking the position that his disagreement with the president's policy simply meant that the only option was war. The prime minister said that "they need you more than you need them," and declared that sanctions and a tougher stand against Iranian behavior would yield a far better result.
The current situation finds the Obama Middle Eastern policy in what only looks like a series of disasters. From Libya to Iraq, from Yemen to Syria, the current administration has seen radical Islamist groups either take power or thwart efforts of the former regimes, resulting in a massive number of deaths and the creation of movements like ISIS. Administration foreign policy in the region is in tatters with few analysts believing that the radical groups will be contained or eliminated without massive, additional military effort on the part of the United States. This is a nightmare for the current president.
Netanyahu made it clear that among the lessons of history that the Israeli people will never forget was the holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. He pointed out the multiple declarations of the current Iranian leadership about eliminating the state of Israel and noted that the Iranians had, and currently were, supporting several groups which have sent rockets into Israel, murdered both U. S. and Israeli citizens, and have attempted to promote terrorism in many neighboring countries.
Netanyahu doesn't believe that the Iranian regime can be trusted about anything and there is ample evidence he is correct. While President Obama also clearly said Tuesday that "we don't trust them", he still believes that getting a deal with Iran is the only way to even delay their current nuclear progress.
One of the lessons of history is clear: Negotiating with dictators rarely, if ever, results in anything positive. For when agreements are signed, nations with dictatorial leadership often have the same amount of respect for their written agreements that they have for their populations: none.
Making any deal with Iran which allows uranium enrichment toward the manufacturing of a nuclear bomb is a serious mistake. In addition, there is good evidence that Iran is getting nuclear fissile material from North Korea, allowing it to cheat, lie, and buy its way past any formal agreement on nukes that it might make with the U.S.
The only way to stop Iran from getting the bomb is force. That force can come via tough economic sanctions, coupled with a very watchful eye on its trading with nations that could give it a nuke, or via a military move.
Iran should be given a choice: Stop enriching uranium now, stop promoting terrorism, stop buying nuclear material from third parties, and stop threatening Israel. Or else.
In short, Netanyahu wasn't wrong to issue his strong warnings to the American public last Tuesday. He did a wonderful public service in speaking clearly to all of us.
So far, the Obama administration hasn't supplied details of its proposed agreement with Iran and worse, has indicated that it doesn't even believe it needs to submit the final agreement for Congressional approval.
It's wrong on both scores. The American public has a right to know about all details of any proposed agreement and the U. S. Senate should demand that it should be submitted for an up or down vote.
Anything less would be outrageous and in our view, illegal.
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