By Jeff Rutherford
Do you notice the theme I spotted in this collection of headlines from newspaper Op-Ed pages around the country this month?
“Netanyahu Delivered Just What Obama Feared” by James Oliphant, National Journal
“Did the Iran Speech Sink Netanyahu?” by Jonathan Tobin, Commentary
“Netanyahu Isn’t the Problem, Obama Is” by Nolan Finley, Detroit News
“WH Considers Opening Breach in U.S.-Israel Relationship” by David Ignatius, WaPo
“Netanyahu 1, Obama 0” by editors at the Boston Herald
“How Obama Handed Netanyahu Victory” by Frida Ghitis, CNN
“Benjamin Netanyahu’s Disgrace in Victory” by Joe Klein, Time
“Left’s Sour Grapes Over Bibi’s Win” by Eric Fettmann, New York Post
“Bibi’s Speech Has Politics Written All Over It” by Doyle McManus, LA Times
According to these opinion journalists (and many more I could have quoted), the United States and Israel are at war. Half these journalists think the Netanyahu administration is the misguided culprit causing the conflict. The others think the Obama administration is the misguided culprit.
Call me crazy, but I’m going out on a limb here:
I say the bad actor causing this conflict is . . . . . Iran. And these Op-Ed pundits are fixated on the smoke instead of the fire. To illustrate, let’s look inside one of the examples I listed.
After I praised a Feb 19th David Ignatius column for fair-mindedness in my last blog article, I made a point of following him this month. Late last week, his column entitled “White House considers opening breach in U.S.-Israel relationship“ appeared in the Washington Post and in syndication all across the country. I found it frustrating how he portrayed the Netanyahu/Obama rift as THE central issue, and portrayed Iran as a mere “meddler” in the region. Excerpts:
Netanyahu backed off his election rhetoric, telling NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Thursday he wanted “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” if “circumstances change.” As he spoke, Israelis were aware that the White House was considering a range of possible actions to demonstrate its anger…including:
Drafting a new U.N. Security Council resolution outlining the framework for a Palestinian state….
Deterring Netanyahu’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, perhaps through warnings in a planned report to Congress on loan guarantees to Israel….
Altering current U.S. policy that opposes Palestinian efforts to take complaints against Israel to the International Criminal Court….
[Withholding] future [U.S.] vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli settlements or other activity….
U.S. officials are preparing a post-Iran-agreement agenda for calming Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia. But the priority should be strengthening the Sunni nations to counter Iranian meddling, rather than sweet-talking them.
Why on Earth would professional writer David Ignatius conjure the term meddler to refer to the dominant Middle Eastern theocracy with underground bunkers of spinning centrifuges full of ever-enriching uranium?
Ignatius and so many other opinion writers who tell us what to think are showcasing the inevitable disagreements between the doves and hawks on the Free World’s side of the negotiating table, while a consistently defiant and cagey Iran resists being pinned down on virtually any aspect of a deal. Even while their front men endlessly haggle over an arms control agreement in Switzerland, Iranians back home are eagerly amassing the makings of a Mushroom Cloud:
Iran’s stock of 5% enriched uranium, which has undergone over half of the centrifuge revolutions needed to reach weapons’ grade, has increased over the interim period from 7,154 KG in November 2013 to 7,953 KG today. Sensitive research has continued — last year, Iran was caught feeding uranium hexaflouride into an advanced centrifuge, a possible infraction of the JPOA that the US is eager to cast as an innocent mistake.
What once was the “unthinkable” — a nuclear-armed Iran — is now being thinked by desperate U.S. State Department appeasers negotiators. They’ve neutered themselves into negotiating over “when”, having caved on the battle over “if.”
On March 21st, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — Iran’s supreme leader — addressed a crowd attending the celebrations of the Persian New Year in the Iranian city of Mashhad. As reported by BusinessInsider.com:
A man in the audience shouted “Death to America”, a cry taken up by the crowd. Khamenei continued: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure. They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy. What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system.”
Here’s a history reminder: Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on July 1, 1968, and delivered three ratified and signed copies to London, Moscow, and Washington D.C. in early 1970. That treaty’s stated objective was “to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
So why are we negotiating a new nuclear arms agreement with Iran now, when the fact is that the post-1979 revolutionary regime in Iran has broken every pre-existing and subsequent international deal they’ve ever made?
U.S. State Department negotiators have forgotten to “never forget.” It’s 1938 all over again, with John Kerry playing the part of Neville Chamberlain.