Sunday, March 08, 2015

Our Friend Bibi

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

You know, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life that I never thought I’d see. I’ve seen a squirrel on water skis. I’ve seen an old man talking to an empty chair on live TV while thousands cheered (and the rest of the world went, “What the [expletive deleted]?”) I’ve seen NC State win a national basketball championship.
But I never thought I’d see the day when one U.S. political party would attempt to score political points by inviting a foreign leader to come to a joint session of Congress and attempt to dictate our military and foreign policy to us.
This past Tuesday, the House Republicans took the unprecedented step of inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to come to the floor of the United States House of Representatives to tell us what to do. This move was taken without consultation with the State Department or the president — a calculated slap in the face to one chief executive by another.
While Mr. Netanyahu took great pains to declare Israel a friend to America and vice versa, I don’t think it would be regarded as a friendly gesture were any U.S. president to bypass diplomatic protocol, go to the Israeli Knesset, and widen already existing rifts between that body and the prime minister by telling Israel everything it’s doing wrong.
Our Friend Bibi’s main topic was, as might be expected, Iran, and let’s just say he’s not a fan of the current talks being held between that country and six world powers, including the U.S., to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. 

He was sharply critical of the “deal” between the two countries, which is curious because, as yet, there is no deal. There are only proposals to which no one has yet agreed.
One of the things that worries Our Friend Bibi (let’s call him OFB for short) about the deal-that-isn’t is that (a) it leaves in place a civilian nuclear program, which he’s concerned could quickly “break out” into a military one, and (b) it expires in 10 years, after which that “breakout time” for a nuclear device would be “very short.”
He demands, in his words, “a better deal.” He did not, however, come up with any proposal for getting Iran to agree to dismantle the civilian program. And it’s a pipedream to believe that they’d do that without the use of force. But don’t worry. If it comes to having to use military force, be it air strikes or boots on the ground, I know OFB would fight to the last drop of American blood. He’s done it before.
Let’s not forget the last time OFB told us who and when we should be fighting. In 2002, he testified to Congress that “there is no question whatsoever that Saddam [Hussein] is seeking, is working, is advancing toward to the development of nuclear weapons,” and that “if you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots, is gone.”
How’d taking that advice work out for us?
As for OFB’s prophecy that, under the deal-that-isn’t, “Iran’s breakout time would be very short,” let us not forget his prior prediction that Iran was only “three to five years” from producing a nuke and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.” Only problem is, he said that in 1992 when he was a member of the Israeli parliament, and he’s been singing the same “any minute now” song ever since.
No one wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon. But in the quest to keep that from happening, we should not be browbeaten into abandoning the quest for a peaceful settlement. If we do go to war with Iran (and sadly, that may yet happen), it needs to be on our timetable, not Netanyahu’s.
No matter how much the “patriots” in the GOP want to poke the president in the eye, it shouldn’t be at the price of outsourcing our military and foreign policy, even to Our Friend Bibi, a blustering bully whose advice has been so disastrously wrong for us before.

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