We’re being governed by children, part 2

Jeffrey Goldberg may believe that “relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis,” but for me I’m going to wait until somebody in the Obama administration actually does something more than say naughty swears about the Israeli PM before I’ll believe it.

Hey, if anybody at the White House is reading this, if you’re really tired of Bibi and his cabinet slagging you on a near-constant basis, please note that the United States and its Security Council veto is literally all that’s standing between Israel and a series of international catastrophes, including but not limited to any number of anti-Occupation UN resolutions, a war crimes trial at The Hague over Operation Blow Gaza to Hell Protective Edge, and UN recognition of a Palestinian state. And that’s before we even get to the $3 billion and change we’re sending Israel in military aid every year, which we do in addition to handing them the keys to our weapons stockpiles in the region whenever they run out of ways to blow up more Palestinians. You really do have options beyond name-calling, which accomplishes nothing other than letting Netanyahu look tough back home, which he craves so much that it drives almost all of his actions at this point.

UPDATE: Dan Drezner suggests a possible reason why the Obama administration is publicly calling Netanyahu names:

So what’s going on?  Is there a rational reason for this kind of talk? I think there might be, but let me stress at the outset that I’m spitballing here. I have no inside information to suggest it’s true, and it may very well be that Goldberg simply liquored up the right White House senior official.

The one thing this kind of trash-talking does is send a signal to Iran about the U.S. commitment to a nuclear deal. Bear in mind that in recent weeks the administration has made it cleat that it won’t be going to Congress to get approval for the permanent lifting of any Iran sanctions. But this raises the question for both Iranian negotiators and Iranian hardliners of just how much they can trust their American interlocutors to implement such a deal. Furthermore, Netanyahu’s persistent and bellicose rhetoric towards Tehran would also have to be a source of concern for the Iranians. If they cut a nuclear deal, they want it to be implemented and they want the shadow of military action lifted.

If in fact Drezner is right, this is still pretty dumb. Iran’s institutional distrust of America goes back to 1979, is built upon the bodies of the 120,000-500,000 Iranians who were killed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, when he was our client, and is rooted in historical events that go back to 1953, when we helped the Brits overthrow the Mossadegh government. They’re not going to be suddenly convinced that we mean what we’re telling them just because somebody in our government anonymously called another world leader a chickenshit. I can’t believe that any thinking human being could conclude otherwise.


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