Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu just gave a magnificent, and in my opinion historic, address to Congress on the dangers of the pending deal with Iran. He was interrupted 43 times by thunderous applause.

The shade of Winston Churchill, who was the only other foreign leader to have addressed Congress three times, hovered approvingly over the proceedings. Mr. Netanyahu nodded to him in a remark about how sanctions were supposed to have encouraged Iran to change and moderate its behavior. “Some change!” he said. “Some moderation!

The many points of comparison with Churchill are obvious — above all, the spirit of the man, and the existential crisis his nation and people face. The contrast with the petulant Barack Obama, who by comparison is a moral and intellectual pygmy, was just made excruciatingly obvious to the nation, and to the world. (In fact, John Boehner, recognizing all of this, has made a gift to Mr. Netanyahu of a bust of Churchill — a gesture that has as an important subtext the fact that one of Mr. Obama’s first acts upon entering the Oval Office was to remove the bust of Churchill that had stood there.)

Forgive my rather simplistic effulgence here, but it’s been a long while since a real leader stood at that podium.

Watch the speech here. Read it here.

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18 Comments

  1. haploid says

    In light of your analogy, fitting that Obama returned/jettisoned Winston’s bust — and initially lied about doing so.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    This is only anecdotal but we were at our health center this am and hoped to see the speech on one of the many closed caption tvs that ring both floors. No such luck getting close enough to read. We did note, however that the crowds were all senior citizens..70s and 80s. There were plenty of younger adults in the building but none made any attempt to get near. Some even asked what was going on and why the interest. Troubling.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Almost as bracing as the speech itself is the tantrum it’s provoked on the Left. (Who knows, it may even ooze into our comment thread.)

    As political events go, this will turn out to have been a pretty big deal, I think. It will certainly serve to deepen existing fissures here in America. More on that as time permits.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    Ooze?

    There was no left wing tantrum regarding Netanyahu’s speech. There was justifiable anger at the spectacle of a foreign leader, at the invitation of one political party, speaking to Congress in an attempt to sabotage the foreign policy of the Commander in Chief. It was as wrong as if Jacques Chirac, at the invitation of Democrats, spoke to Congress in 2002 to urge them to oppose Bush’s proposed invasion of Iraq. So much for partisanship stopping at the water’s edge.

    The fact that Netanyahu did so two weeks before the Israeli election, and kept it a secret from the President, only makes him smaller. Had he wanted to achieve his stated goal of voicing his concerns to Congress, he could have done so after the election and through normal protocol. I doubt that Churchill would have used Congress as a political prop or made an end run around the US President, and I doubt that many House Speakers would have secretly invited a foreign leader to speak to Congress in opposition to American foreign policy.

    Once on the podium, he said nothing.

    If, as he asserts, Iran is implacably committed to destroy the state of Israel, then the logical consequence would be to advocate a pre-emptive war against Iran which levels the major population centers. He did not do this.

    The gist of his speech was his assertion that the proposed deal with Iran – the nature of which, and the likelihood that both sides will agree to it, we do not know – is a bad deal, and “the alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.”

    What is the “much better deal,” and why would Iran agree to something with less favorable terms than the deal they are currently balking at? We don’t know.

    The current level of sanctions will inevitably erode, as the patience of countries to continue to act against their own interests to enforce it will diminish over time. The leverage we have over China and Russia to enforce sanctions is limited at best. Absent an agreement, the Iranians will return to the status quo ante before the current agreement was put in place, discontinue the invasive inspections of their facilities, and go on their merry way to create nuclear weapons. How does Netanyahu plan to stop this? And how does he do so with diminishing support for economic sanctions? We don’t know.

    There is no perfect solution to stopping Iran from having the bomb. Words alone will not work. Sanctions alone will not work. Military action might work, at incalculable human cost, but he did not make this case, and would have received no support for it if he did. The only solution is some sort of agreement, which will necessarily be imperfect. The agreements we had with the Soviets during the cold war were imperfect, and many warned that they would never work – but they did. We do not yet know if an agreement will be reached with Iran which will be acceptable to both sides. What we do know is that Netanyahu is trying to sabotage the best hope we have for an intermediate- or long-term solution, in direct opposition to his professed concern for the security of Israel.

    It is insulting to Churchill to call Netanyahu’s speech Churchillian. It was a lot of hot air, designed to enhance his electoral prospects, without even a hint of a path to stop Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. Anyone can tell you why Iran should never get a nuclear bomb. Tell me something I don’t already know, Bibi.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    And there you have it.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  6. The one eyed man says

    Malcolm, if you want to post editorials on your site and have them unchallenged, with nothing more than the collective assent of the amen chorus, that’s fine by me. I can voice my opinions elsewhere.

    If, however, you would prefer to have your website achieve its purported goal of being a salon, you can do that too. You would first need to be more civil and less snarky. Your call.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Sorry, but there isn’t much point in arguing about this, especially since Mr. Netanyahu anticipated and addressed those of your objections that weren’t merely political. (You might try actually watching the speech, or reading the transcript, which it appears you haven’t bothered to do, given some of what you’ve said here.)

    Hope you don’t mind that I’m not taking the bait, as tempting as it is. (That bit about “no ‘tantrum’, just ‘justifiable anger'” is a particularly mouthwatering morsel — especially coming from someone who calls those who seek to restore a semblance of Constitutional order in this dying nation the ‘Tantrum Caucus’ — but I’m feeling unusually disciplined tonight.) Readers are, of course, invited to do so if they like.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Seriously, you’ve got some cheek to complain to me about tone, or snark, considering your monotonously and reflexively insulting characterizations of conservatives and conservatism. I’m about as civil as a person of my views can possibly be expected to be, given what’s going on in this country.

    Given how utterly unproductive it always is to have these arguments with you, you are welcome to express your entirely predictable, party-line opinions elsewhere if you’d prefer. (Or we could just refer readers to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s or Josh Earnest’s press briefings, and save everyone some time.)

    You’re also welcome to continue expressing them here, if you like, where I will address such actually persuasive arguments as may occasionally pop up in them as I see fit. Up to you.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  9. Loki says

    One-eye:

    So much for partisanship stopping at the water’s edge.

    You’ve got a bit of a pot’n’kettle problem there, dude.

    The fact that Netanyahu did so two weeks before the Israeli election, and kept it a secret from the President, only makes him smaller.

    The deadline for the Iran talks is March 31. That’s why he’s doing this now. And ‘secret’? WTF??

    What is the “much better deal,” and why would Iran agree to something with less favorable terms than the deal they are currently balking at? We don’t know.

    You would if you had listened to the speech.

    What we do know is that Netanyahu is trying to sabotage the best hope we have for an intermediate- or long-term solution, in direct opposition to his professed concern for the security of Israel.

    Yeah, you’re right: Bibi probably doesn’t really care about the security of Israel. Especially compared to Barack Obama.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Speaking of contrasts, the difference between Bibi — whose awareness of his duty to the preservation of his nation and people rang out in every word — and our spineless GOP, who caved in again today on a vital issue of national identity and the rule of law, was also depressingly obvious.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
  11. Whitewall says

    GOP can’t bring themselves to understand that Homeland Security is helpless against our nation’s top domestic threat…Barack Obama.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  12. “If, as he asserts, Iran is implacably committed to destroy the state of Israel, then the logical consequence would be to advocate a pre-emptive war against Iran which levels the major population centers. He did not do this.”

    C’mon, Israel wanted to strategically target nuclear facilities and unlike Saddam Hussein the Iranians don’t generally hide theirs under hospitals and schools, at least, as far as I know. There are many military/economic/political pressures that can be applied, far short of carpet bombing cities. This leveling major population centers is a bit melodramatic, even for you one-eyed.

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  13. JK says

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-said-to-be-working-with-saudi-arabia-on-iran-strike-plan/

    Posted March 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  14. JK says

    Otherwise Blind?

    http://mashable.com/2015/02/26/optical-illusions/

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/02/27/11-optical-illusions-that-will-break-your-brain

    Nevermind.

    Posted March 4, 2015 at 12:20 am | Permalink
  15. Whitewall says

    JK,
    I’m slow getting to it, but this link you deposited over on the Duffosphere is quite good and very sobering. It fits our rotting country in the Age of Obama.

    http://20committee.com/2015/03/02/yugoslavias-warning-to-america/

    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  16. Malcolm says

    OK, I’ll hold up my end, snark-free:

    It is not true that we know nothing of the proposed deal; much, as Mr. Netanyahu explained, has been made public. No doubt he knows more than he was in a position to reveal.

    As Loki pointed out, the Israeli PM had perfectly good reasons to come here when he did: he had been invited, the deadline for the deal is just weeks away, and his nation and people face a dire threat.

    The Congress is an equal branch of government, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t invite whomever it likes to address it. Mr Netanyahu is a friend and ally of the United States, and he is desperate to prevent yet another Obama-administration foreign-policy disaster, this time one that might lead to his nations annihilation. To suggest that this is somehow a breach of protocol, as enraged Democrats have, is risible, given Mr. Obama’s utter disregard for the separation of powers. At this point in the nation’s decline, it’s plain that the President thinks it’s every branch for itself, and protocol and the Constitution be damned. Well, two can play at that game (though the feckless GOP has done a terrible job of it, despite having conquered both houses of Congress). This president seems to think he can simply run roughshod over Congress on every issue, and it’s gratifying to see some resistance.

    As for the substance of the speech: Mr. Netanyahu correctly points out that this deal gives everything and asks for almost nothing. It provides Iran with a lavish enrichment infrastructure, while relying on their good faith (inspectors can be deceived, and anyway do nothing to prevent even those violations they find). We have no credible threat of retribution for violations; it will just be another laughable “red line” that all our enemies know very well by now can be crossed with complete impunity. The very idea of making a “deal” with this regime should be approached with grave doubt and extreme caution; at the very least we should be taking advantage of the sharply increasing leverage that sanctions now have (because of the collapse in oil prices, and Iran’s intensifying economic problems) to make the terms as strong as possible. As Mr. Netanyahu said:

    Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

    Your suggestion that Netanyahu is not acting in Israel’s defensive interest here is ridiculous. This is a man who has devoted his entire life to Israel’s security, whose own brother was a martyr to that cause, and whose interest is not, by contrast with Mr. Obama, that of a vain and aloof poseur playing ineptly at foreign policy — but is rather a matter, quite literally, of his own, and his nation’s, continued existence. The comparison to the Churchill of the 1930’s — the “wilderness years”, when he alone saw clearly the threat of annihilation that a rearming Germany presented, and the worthlessness of credulous, well-intentioned dealmaking with such a ruthless and untrustworthy enemy — is apt.

    Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  17. “In 1967, Benjamin Netanyahu skipped his high school graduation in Pennsylvania to head off to Israel to help in the Six Day War. That same year Obama moved with his mother to Indonesia.

    When Obama suggested that Israel return to the pre-1967 borders, described by Ambassador Eban, no right-winger, as “Auschwitz borders,” it was personal for Netanyahu. Like many Israeli teens, he had put his life on hold and risked it protecting those borders.

    In the seventies, Obama was part of the Choom Gang and Netanyahu was sneaking up on Sabena Flight 571 dressed as an airline technician. Inside were four terrorists who had already separated Jewish passengers and taken them hostage. Two hijackers were killed. Netanyahu took a bullet in the arm.

    The Prime Minister of Israel defended the operation in plain language. “When blackmail like this succeeds, it only leads to more blackmail,” she said.

    Netanyahu’s speech in Congress was part of that same clash of worldviews. His high school teacher remembered him saying that his fellow students were living superficially and that there was “more to life than adolescent issues.” He came to Congress to cut through the issues of an administration that has never learned to get beyond its adolescence.

    Obama’s people had taunted him with by calling him “chickens__t.” They had encouraged a boycott of his speech and accused him of insulting Obama. They had thrown out every possible distraction to the argument he came to make. Unable to argue with his facts, they played Mean Girls politics instead.

    Benjamin Netanyahu had left high school behind to go to war. Now he was up against overgrown boys and girls who had never grown beyond high school. But even back then he had been, as a fellow student had described him, “The lone voice in the wilderness in support of the conservative line.”

    “We were all against the war in Vietnam because we were kids,” she said. The kids are still against the war. Against all the wars; unless it’s their own wars. Netanyahu grew up fast. They never did.

    Netanyahu could have played their game, but instead he began by thanking Obama. His message was not about personal attacks, but about the real threat that Iran poses to his country, to the region and to the world. He made that case decisively and effectively as few other leaders could.

    He did it using plain language and obvious facts.

    Netanyahu reminded Congress that the attempt to stop North Korea from going nuclear using inspectors failed. The deal would not mean a denuclearized Iran. “Not a single nuclear facility would be demolished,” he warned. And secret facilities would continue working outside the inspections regime.

    He quoted the former head of IAEA’s inspections as saying, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.”

    And Netanyahu reminded everyone that Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program would be backed by ongoing development of its intercontinental ballistic missile program that would not be touched under the deal.

    He warned that the deal would leave Iran with a clear path to a nuclear endgame that would allow it to “make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal” in “a matter of weeks”.

    Iran’s mission is to export Jihad around the world, he cautioned. It’s a terrorist state that has murdered Americans. While Obama claims to have Iran under control, it has seized control of an American ally in Yemen and is expanding its influence from Iraq to Syria.

    Its newly moderate government “hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists.” It’s just as bad as ISIS, except that ISIS isn’t close to getting a nuclear bomb.

    “America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad,” he said. It was the type of clarity that he had brought to the difficult questions of life as a teenager. It is a clarity that still evades Obama today.”

    March 4, 2015 by Daniel Greenfield

    The vile Leftists, especially my own co-religionist components, are not only traitors to Western civilization and to American virtue, but they are also a disgrace to human decency.

    Posted March 6, 2015 at 12:07 am | Permalink
  18. Whitewall says

    Henry, a fine offering. The Left has never forgiven the West for winning the Cold War. With the Obama mob, they intend to get even.

    Posted March 6, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink