If you want to play along with the fiction that Benjamin Netanyahu’s big speech before Congress today had to do with anything apart from helping to goose Benjamin Netanyahu’s suddenly waning reelection chances, then as I see it he had two main goals:
- Make the case that Iran wants a nuclear weapon and that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel’s existence, and
- Convince enough wavering Democrats that the current nuclear deal being negotiated with Tehran (whatever that deal may entail) is A Bad Deal, such that those Democrats would help override a presidential veto of a new, negotiations-killing sanctions bill
Number 1 is easy, particularly given the audience. Usually if you mention “Israel” on the floor of either house of Congress it generates a mad scramble as Senators and Congresspersons search frantically for a camera into which they can proclaim their unsurpassed devotion to Israel’s security. Number 2 is slightly complicated by the need to show those wavering Democrats that your opposition to this deal is just to this deal (in spite of the fact that you have no real idea what this deal entails yet, as at the moment there is no this deal), but not to any deal, and that you certainly aren’t gunning for war with Iran or anything like that. Those wavering Dems aren’t particularly fond of the talks or of appearing weak on Israeli security, but they’re also not about to be seen as contributing to yet another major US military engagement in the Middle East, particularly not when about 3/5 of the US public seems to be supporting the talks.
Unfortunately for him, Bibi rolled a snake eyes on both of these goals. Continue reading