21st Century Wire
Today Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu will address a Republican Congress in a brazen attempt to win votes back home by derailing the White House’s ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Iran. How else can you describe it?
There is little point in waiting until after Netanyahu has addressed Congress today, because Bibi will be delivering the exact same, tired old recycled Iran speech that he’s been giving for the better part of the last decade. God forbid, if he’s still in office in 10 years, it’s a sure bet that he’ll be making the same speech then too, claiming that Iran is about the develop a nuclear weapon and that they must be stopped, “before it’s too late.” Oh no, not that old chestnut.
I remember back in 2004 and again in 2006, when the same usual suspects claimed that it was almost “too late” back then too. That was nine years ago, yet the same gang still insists that Iran is “only months away from getting a nuclear weapon.”
While President Barack Obama admits that there is a “substantial disagreement” between the US and Israel about whether or not to pursue an international nuclear agreement with Iran – even one that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he says that the rift is not “permanently destructive” to the two country’s relationship. Obama is talking nice, but the reality behind the scenes is much more turbulent.
Iran wants to bring an end to punitive sanctions and get back into the swing of international trade, but this is not what Israel wants, nor what Saudi Arabia wants, and so that means that GOP does not want it either. Clearly, Netanyahu – in collusion with the Republican Party in the US, is front-running one of the most destructive foreign-led divisions in US political history. To see a foreign leader force himself into US internal politics in this way is incredible, but it goes to show you just how desperate this political dinosaur really is it.
On one level, it’s really pathetic, but on another level it’s really dangerous. Bibi will do what Bibi does, but the real instigators here are the GOP House led by Speaker John Boehner who engineered this destructive rift. In the end, both Netanyahu and the GOP are using each other, but Boehner may never be forgiven for orchestrating such a partisan side-show, and openly playing for the away team.
First stop for Bibi is the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Generally, AIPAC is very unhappy with the prospect of peace in the region, and always seem to be gleefully working hard to promote the next war in the Middle East because the constant threat of war is the energy which turns their political machine. AIPAC’s checkbook has been influential in pushing in-pocket Congressman and Senators towards drafting a new Iran sanctions bill, which is clearly designed for one reason – to undermine present negotiations between the US and Iran.
The Israeli leader tried to make it sound as if he wasn’t trying to undermine the US President in the nation’s capital, but unfortunately, the whole charade came off sounding rather fake. Used to being a bull in a china shop, Bibi is not known for having to finesse his way around Washington. As soon as he opened his mouth at the AIPAC event in Washington yesterday, things got really cheesy really fast:
“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds, I have great respect for both!”
It was one of the most disingenuous statements ever made in the history of politics. It reeked of insincerity. Even the ADL has come out against Netanyahu’s attempt to hijack the US Congress, an act of political desperation. Prominent Jewish-American Sen. Dianne Feinstein even described Bibi’s claim that he “speaks for all Jews” worldwide, as presumptuous and ‘disrespectful’.
“He doesn’t speak for me on this.” said Feinstein on CNN’s “State of the Union program. “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”
‘I didn’t intend to’, is a typical cheap excuse used by someone who has knowingly over-stepped his remit, but is either too arrogant, or too sly to admit it. It’s pretty clear from this over-the-top political stunt that Netanyahu has no interest at all in what is good for the US, only what is good for himself remaining in power.
“America and Israel are more than friends, we’re like a family. Now disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we ARE family!”
Really? Where is Jackie Mason when we need him. If that statement were true – that we are family, it would give as good an indication as any as to just how warped US and Israeli political entanglements have become. Well, as it turns out, it’s not true, but US and Israeli relations are still warped anyway.
The news runners read, “The Prime Minster’s motorcade is on its way”, as if Churchill was in town to sign a peace treaty. It was gaudy. FOX News and CNN have been hyping today’s Netanyahu speech as, “Historic”. By all accounts so far, it’s going to be historically bad. A number of top Democrats — including Vice President Joe Biden, President of the Senate — won’t be attending. So far at least 50 members of Congress are boycotting Netanyahu’s speech.
What’s even more embarrassing than Bibi Netanyahu’s carrying on, is how House Republicans are welcoming the desperate foreign leader into the heart of US democracy – in order to score political points. If you think this is shallow, its a mere sneak preview of what to expect if the Neoconservative cabal re-seizes power in the White House in 2016. They want war with Iran and will do just about anything, and say anything in order to justify a new conflict – just as they did in 2003 by lying to Americans and to the world, about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. They did it before, and they”ll try and do it again.
The problem with this particular breed of political dinosaur is that it will never be able to justify another major war. That ship left port already in 2003, but sadly, so many in the GOP still haven’t got the memo. Still, they’ll give it the old Ivy League try again.
The AIPAC pep rally on Monday in Washington DC was quite a sight. As Don King would say, “Only in America!” Imagine if a foreign leader helicoptering into Tel Aviv, and crashed their Parliament in an attempt to screw-over the elected Israeli leadership over Palestine. How would the Israelis, or the Israeli press take it? Answer: it could never happen, but somehow this has been allowed to happen in the US. Why? The answer can be summed-up in a single word: money. John Boehner and others appear to be all too eager sell the office of the US President down the river for a few bags of silver, in the form of campaign money from Pro-Israel donors, and AIPAC is a key player in pushing those cashier checks across the table. It’s even worse with Super PACS, which are becoming almost impossible to track the money from foreign influence in US politics. Neoconservative war hawk John Bolton controls tens of million of dollars in Super PAC funds now, and is one of many individuals who most certainly plays a role in pushing Pro-Israel cash into the right pockets on Capitol Hill.
Israel’s Bankrupt War State
In order to remain in power, Netanyahu and his aging extremist political clique, must reinforce a continuous climate of fear amongst Israelis and as many people in international Jewish diaspora as he can gather, constantly reinforcing the idea that Israel is “under threat” and that the antidote is always the same – more militarization, more bombing of Israel’s neighbors and more aggressive posturing towards Iran – a country that is not even remotely near Israel in terms of geography. In reality, Iran is more of a threat to Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the region, and as Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US are all best of friends, then any notion of Iran rejoining the international economic fold will mean competition for Saudi in the Oil and Gas sector, and Iran throwing its weight around influencing Shia Muslim populations located in almost every GCC country, as well as in Syria and Lebanon, too. If you put your ear against certain office doors in Washington DC you will also hear talk about Iran’s aspirations for a ‘Greater Persia’ – taking over the region like they did during the days of Sparta. Don’t laugh – there are many well-healed charlatans in very lofty positions in Washington who say such things, and they really believe it, too. As far as Israel and Saudi Arabia are concerned, Iran has to be kept down for that reason. There are other reasons, too, but we’ll have to save that for another day.
Outside of Netanyahu’s Dr. Strangelove paradigm, the reality is that most Israelis would like to see peace, not war. Unfortunately for them (and us too), Netanyahu and his hard-right, hard core supporters concluded long ago that their only chance of staying in power is to keep Israel on permanent war footing, and also to keep the Palestinian issue in a permanent state of suspended animation. To this day, Netanyahu still accuses Iran of not abiding by “International Laws”, but Israel itself routinely scuffs at the UN and stands in violation of countless resolutions and international rulings on its illegal settlements, acts of aggression and brutality against Palestinians. For this reason, Israel’s standing in the world has slowly degraded, while Netanyahu and his inner circle of militarists, along with the Israeli lobby in the US – have sought to radicalize politics both Tel Aviv and in Washington. Never has the Israeli-US relationship been more polarized than it is today, and that’s not a good thing for either country.
Lies That Justify Wars
Clearly, President Barack Obama wants to progress towards peace with Iran, and clearly Israel wants war. This bellicose Israel stance is unfortunately backed up by the Neoconservative and pro-war lobbies in the US, led by John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and other PNAC dinosaurs who did the same thing in concert with Israel in the run-up to 2003’s bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq. That effort was based on a lie to the public, and the world, not least of all the people of Iraq who are still paying a heavy price for those lies. If the exact same forces are behind the effort to wage war with Iran, then it goes without saying that they will deploy similar lies to advance this new war agenda…
The Main Lie: Israel and its neoconservative supporters are still claiming that “Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map”. Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed that, “Iran vows to annihilate Israel.” This is a lie. In fact,this lie will eventually go down in history as one of the biggest lies ever. In both 2005 in Tehran and again in New York City in 2007, Iran’s then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave speeches that Israel has used this lie in order to justify its permanent war stance against Iran. In both cases, his words were not only taken out of context, but misquoted altogether. The rumors were quickly transformed into justifications for war, with catastrophic implications. Predictably, Netanyahu used these straw man incidents to sound the international alarm that somehow Iran is “preparing another holocaust for the Jewish state”, and even called for Ahmadinejad to be tried for war crimes for “inciting genocide”.
Then it happened again. In November 2014, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei went on a nonsensical Twitter rant, assailing Israel and the United States. Sure, it was a mad social media rant, but hardly a basis for the type of preemptive strike being talked about by Republican members of the US House and Senate. Again, this was immediately seized upon by the Israeli lobby and the reactionary right-wing in the US, who both claimed (once again) that “Iran has vowed to wipe Israel – AND the US off the map!” Of course, when you actually go and read the Twitter rant (which no one seems to have actually done) it’s pretty clear that nothing even remotely threatening on that level was said.
The Second Lie: Israel and its neoconservative banks rollers keep claiming that “Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon and if they get one they will use it to eliminate Israel”. That’s actually two lies in one. Other tertiary lies to this lie include, “Israel is only months away with a ‘break-out period’ to a nuclear weapon. The concept of a “break-out period” is a theoretical term, if not a fictional one – which implies guilt in the absence of any evidence.” It’s not only an exaggeration, it actually has no basis in reality beyond political hyperbole. In 2012, the CIA admitted that Iran has not been pursuing nuclear weapons but this didn’t stop Bibi at the time from inviting himself to the United Nations in New York City to unveil his infamous ‘looney tunes’ cartoon of Iran’s mythical nuclear weapons program, a stunt which many diplomats called ‘condescending’….
Netanyahu went on to build the exact same straw man argument yesterday at AIPAC:
“If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We, must, not, let, that, happen!” (as he bangs on the podium with each syllable of that last sentence).
The Third Lie: According to Bibi and his US GOP faithful, ‘Iran’s Tenacles of Terror’ stretch around the world. This is a lie. You hear this lie repeated often and endlessly within US neoconservative circles, and especially by government officials who are on the payroll of the recently legalized terrorist cult called the MEK who’ve set-up shop in the US posing as the “Iranian Opposition in Exile”.
At the AIPAC conference on Monday, Netanyahu unveiled another hand-made, cartoon-like art project, to try and ‘prove’ the fiction that Iran is “the world’s largest sponsor of terror”. If this were a junior high project, he would’ve gotten at least B- because it’s really colorful and has lots of pictures. Good job Bibi…
Managing the US propaganda operation from the talks in Switzerland is CNN operative Jim Sciutto, who made the flippant statement regarding the negotiations, “It’s 16-17 months into an interim agreement and Iran still hasn’t ‘fessed up’ to past work on weaponization”.
Really Jim? “Fess-up”? By using this clever rhetoric, Sciutto is implying that Iran was somehow working on a nuclear bomb, even though there is no evidence to even suggest this is true. More loaded, pro-war language from CNN.
The propaganda of tension pushed by media operatives like Sciutto (photo, below) infers that Iran is guilty of absolutely any spurious charge – until proven innocent (which is never). This kind of loaded language is constantly injected into CNN and FOX News coverage on this issue in order to frame the issue for US and western audiences.
Although CNN has given Sciutto the cryptic title of “national security correspondent”, you can’t help wonder if Sciutto’s pro-war propaganda is really fostering national insecurity.
The Real Sources of Terror
While there is little, if any real evidence to demonstrate that Iran is behind the world’s Sunni terrorist scourge, there is much more evidence showing how Israel are currently aiding terrorists operating inside Syria, (see also, this UN report of Israel’s involvement in Syria) along with US allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others. As it turns out, each member of the US-led Axis are actively providing aid and comfort, and even military material support to terrorists in Syria – to the world’s worst terrorist militants including al Nusra and ISIS who are currently marauding through Syria and Iraq. Conversely, the campaign of hyperbole relentlessly waged against Iran by the Pro-Israel lobby and its media partners has no basis in reality.
Today, much to the chagrin of the lobby, Iranian military commanders are actually leading the effort against ISIS to retake the city of Tikrit, Iraq. This is a constant source of pain to the usual pundits and ‘experts’ on CNN and FOX News, who insist on peddling the usual conspiracy theories about how Iran is behind every terrorist attack on earth, a view shared by the right’s extreme lunatic fringe led by Rudolph Giuliani and others.
In addition to Iraq, Iranian forces are in Syria helping in the effort to flush out ISIS and other terrorists being bankrolled and armed by foreign powers, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others, and even by the US itself.
Then there’s the sticky issue of Lebanon’s Shia militia Hezbollah, whom Israel maintains is “Iran’s terrorist proxy” in the region. It’s true that Hezbollah receives support by Iranian interests, but as anyone who is actually paying attention to recent history will tell you, Hezbollah was originally formed as a defensive militia in South Lebanon during the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, but has long transitioned into politics. By labeling Hezbollah a “terrorist organization” as Israel and its US supporters do, this not only ignores the complexity of power-sharing and inclusion in developing a pluralist society like Lebanon, but it also furthers the narrative that Iran’s proxy somehow poses a grave threat Israel, when in reality, it does not. Presently, Hezbollah militia are also in Syria by invitation of the Syrian government in Damascus – to help drive out foreign terrorists groups, again, like al Nusra and ISIS. If body politik in Washington DC is truly interested in eliminating ISIS terrorists from the region, then this means that Washington’s and Hezbollah’s interests are in alignment. The reality is that Hezbollah is doing boots on the ground in this fight – while the US is not. Meanwhile, Israel has been busy picking off Hezbollah anti-terror fighters by waging illegal IDF airstrikes inside Syria, and thus aiding ISIS, al Nusra and other terrorist brigades currently running amok in Syria, and by extension, in Iraq too. So then who is the real enabler of terrorism here? The facts speak for themselves, regardless of the ill-informed political rhetoric in Washington’s neoconservative and GOP circles.
Netanyahu’s world view does not factor in the interests of anyone else, except for his own. Israel sees itself as a “world power”, yet, everyone knows that their status as a “world power” is completely dependent on the US standing behind it and carrying a big stick – and shoveling nearly $4 billion per year of US welfare money into Israel’s ‘defense industry’. Netanyahu also believes that Israel can only negotiate from a ‘position of strength’. This is the fatal flaw of Netanyahu and his ilk’s style of world citizenry. You only need to look at the deteriorating condition of the Palestinian underclass held in captivity by the Israeli military occupation – a condition which has never improved under Israeli control – to know how much consideration the Israeli government is giving to its neighbors. Gaza has been called “the world’s largest open prison”, and for good reason. Then consider the ritual slaughter which took place at the hands of the IDF this past summer in Gaza, and how the world saw that event. It was ugly, but to Israel and its right-wing supporters – it was ‘glorious’. There’s a disconnect there. Some people get it, others are blind to it.
The Nuclear Straw Man
It’s potentially the most dangerous ‘straw man’ argument in human history. This one is a nuclear strawman.
Anyone can use this kind of ridiculous straw man, by substituting “Iran” with another country, like “Iraq” (that’s been done before), or even North Korea (there is no proof that North Korea actually has a functioning nuclear weapons arsenal), yet, some US politicians will still speak in public as if these are all existential threats to the US.
As if it couldn’t get any scarier. The following outburst even surpasses the borderline clinical war insanity of a Guilanni.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R), House Oversight Chairman, went on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer yesterday – seemingly to demonstrate his loyalty to Netanyahu, exclaiming:
“You know, when your friends come to town, they come see you!”
If only it were that simple, but in minds of the GOP who cash their Israel campaign donation checks – it really is that simple. Chaffetz wants us to believe that the Israeli Prime Minister, who is only two weeks away from a hotly contested election in Israel, and who has stated publicly that he does NOT want President Obama to strike any nuclear or peace deal with Iran – is just merely coming to see his friends. A very condescending remark, but that seems to be par for the course in this new atmosphere of reductionist, dumbed-down partisan politics in Washington.
Chaffetz became flippant when challenged over the House’s bid to undermine the White House:
“Get over it! He’s gonna come and speak tomorrow!”
“This is not a regime we can continue to appease, and give them what they want more than anything else, which is time – and President Obama has given to Iranians time.”
Chaffetz then goes on to paint the tired old ‘ticking bomb’ narrative:
“The biggest problem we have on the face of the planet is Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and we have to do anything and everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Blitzer then goes on to ask Chaffetz if he supported a war against Iran, asking Chaffetz: “So you would support a preemptive strike against their nuclear [facility]?”, to which Chaffetz enthusiastically replied, “Absolutely!”
“We negotiate from a position of strength Wolf, we do not do this through appeasement.”
“If it was up to me, If I was the President of the United States I would take out that threat!”
Thank God it’s not up to him. Clearly, the young Chaffetz has attended the John McCain School of Diplomacy, and is well on his way to becoming a dangerous war-monger, gallivanting through exotic lands, seeking out moderate rebels he can work with.
“When they say they want death and destruction to the United States, when the Ayatollah himself said that in November of last year, believe it!”
It doesn’t matter that the Iranian leader never said that.
“When the Houthis are coming in and they kicked us out of our embassy [in Yemen], and they’re gonna take us out – believe ’em! “Yes, you take out that threat!”
Scary. No, facts do not matter when you are in the middle of a WWIII rant. Again, it doesn’t matter that the Houthis didn’t kick the US out of its embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. The truth is that the US puppet regime in Sanaa fell, and the incoming Shia Houthis were the “wrong religion” for Washington and Riyadh, and with a Shia force in power, maybe the CIA could no longer manage its exotic little animal, AQAP, in Yemen? By turning tail, the US has simply set-up Yemen for a future military intervention.
In all fairness, like most politicians in Washington DC, Chaffetz may not really know what goes on outside of the US except for what AIPAC and other similar-thinking think tanks tell him in briefings and white papers, and no doubt he will want to appear “very tough” on Iran, but isn’t it more than a little disturbing that a junior Congressional head would go on national TV and state he would like to launch WWIII on behalf of another country?
No surprise to discover that like so many other in Washington DC, Chaffetz is on the Israeli lobby’s payroll. His public rant could be viewed as an attempt on his part to move up that $ money list. Before he launches his bombing campaign against Iran, will Chafetz and others please do the American people a massive favor and disclose exactly how much money they are receiving from the cash coffers of AIPAC and other “soft money” SUPER PACS connected to Israel, or from anyone connected with Israeli billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson? Is he also on the notorious MEK payroll too? We’d like to know.
Enemies of Peace
Foreign money buys politicians and their rhetoric, and makes wars happen.
Netanyahu is a man fighting for political survival in a country that is being bankrupted by its own military industrial complex. It’s a high maintenance system required (so Netanyahu believes anyway) to preserve Israel’s own fragile existence in the region.
While the IDF destroys Palestinian homes in an effort to demoralize the natives, many working and unemployed Israelis are struggling to make ends meet and to maintain a basic standard of living. Such problems did not exist 10 or 20 years ago. Israel’s political system is falling apart. Political corruption in Israel is now rife, as millions are siphoned off the public purse each month. Contracts are being passed off to friends of the administration. No surprise then that the OECD has ranked Israel as one of the region’s most corrupt countries.
Sure, it’s the kind of standard corruption you would find anywhere in the world – in the Ukraine, Pakistan, India or Egypt, but it stings just a bit more in Israel because Tel Aviv tries very hard to portray itself to the US as some sort of tower of morality, and is often referred to by its US supporters as “the only democracy in the Middle East”. That would be true if any of the 4.5 million Palestinians under Israeli occupational rule had any rights at all.
Can Netanyahu be trusted in matters of international diplomacy or bilateral negotiations? This week’s PR stunt should answer that question.
Both the people of Israel and Iran don’t want a war. Most Americans do not want it either.
More than anything, Netanyahu and the US neocons fear peace, because peace is bad for the business of war.
It’s that simple.
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