Ignore The Speech

Everyone is busy and everyone would love to be given a few extra hours in the week. Here they are.

Ignore the speech to be given to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ignore the sideline bloviators talking about the speech. Ignore it all because it is irrelevant and most importantly ignore it all to teach all the players in this political theatre a well-deserved lesson.

In the political turmoil surrounding the speech, there is one absolute. Nobody on the entire earth including those involved in the negotiations with Iran, the governance and security of Israel, the governance and security of the United States, Likud politics, the Israeli election, Democratic politics, Republican politics or the US elections can tell you definitively that his approach is better than any other. Well, they can say it but it won’t be true.

Nobody knows.

If one course of action is chosen by the US, Iran will respond with a choice. Likely so will Israel. If you change the order of play, the others will respond in turn. Invariably, those subsequent responses will nudge the outcome a little. Think of the outcome as a pinball with the different countries serving as flippers.

What all of the players do know is what they want, and what they want is what is best for them personally right this minute. Though portrayed as apocalyptic, this entire episode is merely a scrum among competing narratives, and the narratives are crafted to advance the causes of the individuals involved.

Anyone who has ever negotiated with any opponent to achieve any outcome reserves a special place in his personal concept of hell for the sideliner who says he could have made a better deal. Here is a pretty good rule of life: if you were not at the table you have no idea whether you could have done better, so shut up.

Netanyahu’s biggest motivation right now is the coming election, which is far from a cakewalk. Apart from him, will anyone be worse off if he loses?

Obama is in legacy mode so it does not matter what the deal is as long as he can take credit for it. Choose between Iranocare and Obamiran depending on which polls better.

The Republican Congressional leadership is torn between the desire to embarrass the President and the desire to raise money. Wait. What? We can do both at the same time?

If you can’t get your arms around ignoring the speech, ask yourself to name a country that has been successfully denied a weapons technology it really wanted.

There is one casualty in this battle of the bloviators. The United States Capitol has become the number one venue for the political equivalent of a destination wedding. Characteristically, we don’t even know how to charge for it.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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8 comments

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  • The penultimate paragraph tells how the story ends. Sooner or later, every marginally capable country gets what weapons technology it wants. They buy it, steal it, make deals for it, whatever it takes. This Iranian situation will not be an exception any more than North Korea was, or any of the others going back to the Russian spies at the Manhattan project during WWII.

    But in the beginning, which is not where we are now but perhaps the point can still be raised, Kerry should have said that no negotiations can occur until Iran publicly renounces its previous pledge to wipe Israel off the map. How can our government be in serious negotiations with a country that is operating with that as a given, explicit goal?

    How to make a deal stick? Tell Iran that if they pursue their nuclear strategy and develop a bomb they become the guarantor of Israel. They become the guarantor of Israel because if a nuclear bomb goes off in Israel, from any source whatever, we make Iran a nuclear ash pile in the next half hour. So, the safest thing for them to do is to not develop a nuclear bomb. Too tough? Who has a better idea?

  • Haven:

    I only came upon your post after the speech. I didn’t follow your advice. Apparently, you did not follow your own advice either. I don’t think that Bibi’s argument accomplished his goal. It’s been heard more than once before. If anything, Bibi simply showing up accomplished his goal. The fix was in. Shelly Adelson was in the House, and the House was Shelly’s. In fact Shelly now IS the house as they say in the gambling biz. And this House is now just another one of the chain of Shelly’s casinos.

    President Obama, being human, no doubt cares about his legacy. But I think he also believes sincerely that his and everyone else’s interests (except anyone’s narrow political self-interests) are best served by a negotiated arrangement between Iran and the P5+1. I agree. Whether such an arrangement works or not, there will always be enough time for war, if war is actually called for. Without a negotiated arrangement, war is the only option. It’s not smart to prematurely limit one’s options.

    Bibi’s break-out time argument doesn’t hold water – even heavy water. There is no break-out time Iran could conceivably “enjoy” that would pre-empt the U.S. and/or Israel from permanently ending Iran’s nuclear program. We proved that in Iraq, right? Can you imagine Iraq now assembling a vast nuclear weapons capability? And further, we’ve proved that we can do it by deploying our least competent people. Jeb Bush is already on deck to bring them all back.

    Regards, Rab

  • How many times is Bibi going to say Iran will have a bomb in 3 to 5 years. He said this 19 years ago and then in 2002 they will have a bomb in 3 to 5 years and then at the U.N speech Iran will have a bomb!
    Same story all the time.

  • So, we’ve ignored the speech. Are we also ignoring the rhetoric of the last days of Israel’s Knesset elections?