Not since January 17, 1952, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned the United States of an Iron Curtain descending upon Europe, has there been a more important speech from a foreign dignitary to a joint session of the United States Congress. Yet, today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress in a speech as far reaching as Churchill’s in 1952. In it, he implored the members of Congress to think long and hard about the consequences of lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, which would be part and parcel of an agreement that President Obama is desperately seeking with Iran, in an inane attempt to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Specifically, Prime Minister Netanyahu took issue with two crucial elements of this nascent treaty, presently being negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland by Secretary of State John Kerry. The first, and by far the most important issue, is the “sunset clause” whereby Iran would only be held to its terms for a period of ten years, after which they would be free and clear to develop a stockpile of nuclear weapons. Secondly, Iran would retain its entire nuclear enrichment program and thus geometrically increase the amount of centrifuges designed to enrich uranium- a key component to the creation of atomic weapons. Quite rightly, Netanyahu warned the Congress that this treaty would not do anything to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but rather pave the way for Iran to become the latest member to the world’s nuclear club and, given the nature of a regime that has been in place for thirty–six years, thus create an existential threat to the survival of Israel, since it is this same regime that has publicly and repeatedly called for Israel’s annihilation.
Netanyahu documented the history of Iran’s hatred of Israel, recalling from ancient history the attempt by Persia’s Haman to destroy Israel- a plot that was thwarted by Esther, and to this day is observed in the feast of Purim. He recounted the history of Iran’s current regime since its inception in 1979 when the incumbent government, under Shah Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown by Islamic Radicals under the Ayatollah Khomeini- a regime that captured American diplomats and held them captive for 444 days in 1979-1980, and then a few years later was responsible for the death of 230 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon. He reminded the Congress that it is this Iranian regime that has extended its hegemony over four nations- Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon and that it seeks to expand its domination of the Middle East, vying only with ISIS for such control. Conversely, it is the Obama administration which naively believes that this rivalry with ISIS represents a signal of Iran’s willingness to take on ISIS as a pathway to friendlier relations with the Iranian regime, but it is indeed the exact opposite. As Netanyahu so succinctly put it, in this particular case, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy”.
Asininely, fifty-four Democratic Representatives and eight Democratic Senators boycotted the address by the Israeli Prime Minister, in lockstep agreement with the Obama administration, who did not allow a single member of its team to attend the address by Netanyahu. All Americans must ask themselves the following question- “Why?”
Why is the Obama administration so resolutely opposed to Israel’s Prime Minister addressing our Congress?
Why is it more important for the Obama administration to so lamely and desperately seek such a bad deal with the Iranians- one that would imperil the survival of the world’s lone Jewish state?
Why would the President of the United States skip such an opportunity to sit down with Israel’s Prime Minister and discuss with him what he sees to be the advantages of such an agreement, when he will not even disclose to the American people the reasons he is pursuing this ill-begotten treaty, in the first place?
Is it because the narcissistic president is so consumed with his own legacy that he would wager the very survival of our closest ally in the Middle East just to be able to say, at the end of his presidency, “I got Iran to agree”?
We have seen the folly of such agreements in the past- most notably when Churchill’s predecessor, Neville Chamberlain boasted that he had negotiated “peace for our time” with Adolf Hitler, by wagering away a sovereign Czechoslovakia on Hitler’s promise not to invade eastern Europe- a promise broken when Germany invaded Poland less than a year later, touching off the Second World War. Twenty million lives later, the world learned the lesson of such folly, and why a bad deal is far, far worse than no deal, at all.
Or is it indeed the case that, in the long view of world history, we have forgotten this lesson?
-Drew Nickell, 3 March 2015
© 2015, by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved