Bibi’s right: The alternative to a bad deal with Iran is a good deal

Netanyahu Congress 3

The Great Liberal Freakout over Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday might subside now that the deed has been done. Perhaps now we can get around to understanding why the Israeli prime minister felt it so necessary to come speak to lawmakers — against the wishes of President Obama — in the first place.

In the president’s line of argument, laden with the kind of false choices he denounces even as he employs them, the only alternative to the deal he’s negotiating with Iran is war. It has been revealing to see how many liberals have taken up this kind of thinking, which they typically berate as the kind unsophisticated, nuance-less, black-or-white worldview of rightwingneoconwingnuts. Like the absence of anti-war protests over Obama’s use of military power, it shows they’re just as partisan on the issue of war as on any other.

The value of Netanyahu’s speech was primarily the way he laid so bare the weakness of Obama’s policy and the partisanship of Obama’s supporters.

After all, one obvious, other alternative to a bad deal is … a good deal. Netanyahu said this explicitly — contra our liberal friends who insist he’s simply beating the drums of war — in his speech, and he gave an idea of what a better deal might look like. First, it wouldn’t include the two “major concessions” Obama seems prepared to make: Allowing Iran to leave its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs in place, and putting a sunset date on the relatively toothless impositions the deal would place on Iran. Second, it would include continued economic pressure, via sanctions, to give Iran an incentive to hold up its end of any bargain.

Obama seems to have accepted the only way to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program is through war, and so he’s essentially taken that goal off the table. But it’s easy to see why falling short of that goal would be considered a non-starter for Netanyahu — and should be as well for anyone who believes a nuclear-armed Iran will start an arms race across the Middle East and make war all but inevitable.

In theory, a deal that allows Iran to preserve a civilian nuclear program but places sufficient and verifiable restrictions on it could be a good deal. But it is exceedingly difficult to see how a deal that places little in the way of restrictions and tells Iran when those restrictions will end could possibly qualify.

Announcing in advance the date of our surrender has become a staple of Obama’s foreign policy, from Iraq to Afghanistan, and Netanyahu is absolutely correct to point out how dangerous it is in this case, when the regime in Tehran has been following the same anti-Israeli course for decades. It’s easy for President Obama, with two years left in his term and anticipating eight years of President Hillary, to push dreadful consequences of the deal well past the writing of his (latest) memoirs and first round of post-presidential biographies. The view of time from Tel Aviv looks, understandably, rather different.

And for all the talk about how economic sanctions didn’t work, Obama’s own supporters in Congress have noted the role effective sanctions played in bringing Iran to the table for these very talks. How much more effective, Netanyahu asked, might sanctions be at a time when oil prices have plummeted to the detriment of Iran’s economy? If the only stick is the supposed presence of United Nations inspectors, there is really isn’t a stick at all.

Above all, the notion that it’s a deal or war is rather hard to take at the same time National Security Advisor Susan Rice is insisting a bad deal is worse than no deal. The only ostensible belief that could underpin both of these statements from the administration is that any deal Obama strikes is, by definition, a good deal. It is that kind of thinking which raises the comparisons to Neville Chamberlain.

In short, Netanyahu appears correct to doubt Obama’s determination to do what it takes to strike a genuinely good deal, rather than striking a bad one and declaring it good. That’s why it was also right for him to take his argument directly to American lawmakers and citizens outside the administration.

Reader Comments 0

64 comments
DeborahinAthens
DeborahinAthens

Bibi was one of the Hawks egging us on when the Bush Administration was debating going to war in Iraq. The Chicken Hawks derided and made fun of the French for having cooler heads and followed the idiots like Netanyahu down the rabbit hole. And here we are still fighting the longest war in our history. The best analogy I once heard was that the USA was the drunk frat boy getting into his expensive (hundreds of trillions of dollars and thousands of live) sports car with Great Britain and Isreal jumping in the back seat for the joy ride. France, Canada, and Germany were the wiser, older brothers who tried to take the keys away to prevent a major crash. We need to stop listening to Netanyahu. He is NOT our friend. What might be good for Isreal is not good for us, and the sooner we learn this harsh lesson, the better.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

This may be the dumbest article you've ever written.  There have been some doozies where history has proven you completely wrong, but this one take's the cake.  Here's why:


1. What is the current deal?  We don't know, and it won't even be finalized until June.  Currently, there is no deal.  There isn't even a framework of a deal.  It is still being negotiated.

2. What is the "better" deal?   We don't have a current deal, so how can there be a better deal? For all of Bibi's talking, where is the document that outlines exactly what he wants?

3. If you don't make a deal with Iran or Iran won't agree to a "better" deal, what happens?  Iran will continue its nuclear program at its current pace which you can't stop unless you go to war with them.  They will have lost all desire to negotiate, and we will have no strategy at all to stop them going forward.


Personally, if I were Iran, I would walk away from the table and develop the weapons as fast as possible.  They have Israel that clearly wants war and Republicans (who will probably win in 2016) ready to go to war as well.  Even if they sign the deal, Republicans will just lie (should they win in 2016) and say they are not in compliance with the agreement  like we did with Saddam. He was in compliance and we still went to war with them for nothing.


After repeatedly not winning wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan) or Stalemating (Korea), Republicans appear to want another one.  This isn't 1945. We aren't liberators of the free.  We are oppressors of the lands we conquer, and we will be that to Iran likely leading to another loss.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

This is serious stuff folks, not routine partisan politics. The takeaway for me was Bibi putting the world on notice they cannot expect Israel to cower in their corner of the world, Israel will take preemptive action if they deem it necessary for their SURVIVAL. If they ultimately do, will Obama order their planes to be shot down (murdering Israeli pilots)? This is serious, serious stuff; there is real evil in the world and we are targets. Did you hear the Congresswoman from Hawaii talk about North Korean nuclear capability? She's a real wing-nut, you know.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@DawgDadII This is serious stuff folks, not routine partisan politics


It is serious stuff. Isolating Iran will only push them closer to a nuke. Just like Bush did with North Korea.


Its a shame Netanyahu is using this situation to try desperately to get reelected. 

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@DawgDadII Yeah, whatever. Israel doesn't go to the bathroom without consulting Washington first.

TBS
TBS

" After all, one obvious, other alternative to a bad deal is … a good deal. Netanyahu said this explicitly — contraour liberal friends who insist he’s simply beating the drums of war —"


I wouldn't say war drums but he has been basically saying the same thing since the 90s.

What exact plan did Bibi offer? 

The details must have been drowned out by his rhetoric. 

Mandingo
Mandingo

Iran NEEDS nuclear weapons just like every other country in the world. It is the only way you can get the United States to mind its own business and stop all of the military invasion threats. If Afghanistan and Iraq had nuclear weapons there is no way Dubya Bush would have started a war . You will never see the US charge into North Korea because that country has nuclear  weapons to defend themselves.  +1 on  Bibi was just in town to pick up his check.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@Mandingo Just like Pakistan. They hide our worst enemy (OBL) and we don't do anything about it. Why? Maybe because they have nukes?

NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

@Mandingo

Anyone who thinks Iran should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons is seriously nutty or just plain stupid.

Dearie
Dearie

I found it refreshing to witness a genuine leader speaking about here and now, not what we "hope to (and) change."

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Funniest part is Republicans put on these kinds of shows to court the jewish vote. 


But for the most part Jewish Americans overwhelmingly vote with\for the Democrats.



LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@HeadleyLamar

Got proof?

Real Americans support Israel because we support freedom and because without our support, Israel would have long ago been destroyed.  How domestic Democrats vote has no bearing on that steady support.


Likewise
Likewise

Kyle - Maybe you can help lead us away from a decades long Middle East policy that cares only about oil and Israel. And remember that the U.S. (Eisenhower) helped overthrow an Iranian democracy in the 1950s to install a dictator after they nationalized the oil fields.  And with our guy in place (the Shah) we (Nixon) gave them the nuclear technology they possess today. But who lives in the past, right?

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Bibi was just in town to pick up his check. 


We write Israel checks with our tax dollars and Bibi cashes em.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"dismantle Iran’s nuclear program"


LOL!  It works for Israel, doesn't it? They keep crying wolf and we keep sending them millions and millions of our tax dollars. Israel doesn't care if Iran has a bomb, they just want us to keep sending the cash!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Netanyahu should have felt right at home with the GOP and they are clearly cozy with him


They have a lot in common. Much like the Gop's stance on Obamacare Netanyahu doesn't have a concrete plan of his own


He just know he doesn't like Obama's 


Kinda convenient isn't it ?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Balancing "good", "bad", or "best" deal is not just up to the US or Israel.  Iran, Russia, France, Germany, and others are all in the mix. 


Iran will keep its Nuclear program. It's a sovereign country and should keep it.  Sanctions should be in place when Iran tries to overstep civil uses of nuclear energy into weapons.  

The question then becomes:  What will Iran be like when they get a weapon?  They will, of course, in time.   Will they be influenced by a good relationship with the west, or will they be influenced by a bad relationship with the west? 


I'd rather have a good relationship with moderate sanctions than a bad relationship with borderline war. 

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

So why doesn't he just attack and take Iran with his own Army ?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

It mystifies me why Jewish Americans remain loyal to the Democrat Party. They're smart, hard working, entrepreneurial, family oriented, and independent minded, not qualities you'd generally associate with the typical Dem adherent.

ssinf
ssinf

@Bumper15  The same reasons gays, the young, Asians, Latinos, the well educated support Democrats.


They're all looking for a handout, right?


If you wonder, you need only look at your inane attack as proof why everyone but old white people support Democrats in overwhelming numbers.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@ssinf @Bumper15 Exactly right


The GOP is almost all white these days, male, and increasingly older


And they seem dumbfounded as to why. Could it be their stance on immigration ?


Voter Suppression ?


Women secreting things to avoid pregnancy during rape ?


Denial of basic Science like Climate change ?


Nah......It must be because everybody else is a moocher 


Its hilarious. 

GMFA
GMFA

If there is to be peace in the Middle East then Iran must be brought on board. While it does seem strange to suggest that, Iran is more progressive than any other country in the Middle East. There is some hope they will change over time. Saudi Arabia is an ally in name only as the Sunni's are the terrorists of the world. Sorry Kyle, but the Republicans have no clue about Foreign Policy, but are bought and paid for by the Israel Lobbyist.  

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@GMFA Iran, for the most part, is responsible for their not being peace in the Middle East.  Thinking they can be "brought on board" is laughable.  I guess the Nobel winner has to try though, right?  LMFAO!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

It is critically important to note that the only progress made by the West in halting or slowing the Iranian weapons program has come through these ongoing negotiations. The George W. Bush administration refused to negotiate with Iran and “addressed” the issue through a combination of military threats and half-effective sanctions. As a result, the number of nuclear centrifuges in Iran grew from 164 to more than 7,000 when Bush left office.


- Bookman


How about we let the grownups ( Democrats ) handle this one OK ?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Announcing in advance the date of our surrender has become a staple of Obama’s foreign policy


My god. You cant be taken seriously anymore


When did we surrender in Iraq ? 



LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@HeadleyLamar

When Obozo failed in his duty to keep forces in Iraq sufficient to prevent the likes of ISIS from undoing the hard work and sacrifices of Our Troops.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@LilBarryBailout @HeadleyLamar , Actually, ISIS is being defeated by the people who actually live there without assistance.  ISIS is losing and all but dead at this point.  In 6 months, you will even forget it was news. 


How many American troops will have died?  Once ISIS is defeated, will we need to stay another 10 years?  Obama hasn't surrendered.  Obama has won.  He has made the people who live there take responsibility for policing their own lands. It's Arab countries fighting and Arab foe.  It's Iraq growing up  and fighting their own militants with us helping them with nothing more than air power.


That's real leadership.  The only way to win with your bomb first policy is to commit genocide. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LilBarryBailout @HeadleyLamar You mean when he brought our troops home saving thousands and forced the people in the ME to start doing the fighting themselves


if that is surrender Yum Yum give me some. 

EdUktr
EdUktr

True to form, the Obama Administration is waiting for Iran to present the world with a fait accompli. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@EdUktr Which is what ?


A nuclear weapon.


Bush threw away all the progress Clinton had made in North Korea...Guess what ? They have nukes now


And countries like North Korea and Iran know one thing for sure.


If they get a nuke they wont be attacked 



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

  Like the absence of anti-war protests over Obama’s use of military power, it shows they’re just as partisan on the issue of war as on any other.


Let us all know when Obama start deploying hundreds of thousands of troops to the Middle East 


You aren't comparing apples to apples here and you know it.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Israeli prime minister felt it so necessary to come speak to lawmakers — against the wishes of President Obama — in the first place.


Because he is a hawk and is in a tough re election campaign. He is trolling for votes.


One imagines on Vladimir Putin would get a warmer welcome from this GOP Congress. 

Caius
Caius

Couple of thoughts on  Israel, Iran and The Bomb.

First, I would take any advice from Netanyahu with the caveat that he testified before the House Oversight Comm in 2002 that Iraq and Saddam were on the verge of a nuclear bomb and that the US had better get in there in a hurry before the Middle East turned into a mushroom cloud.


Second, as I recall he blasted the current policies of the 5+1 when they were instituted.  Now, apparently, he is willing to live with them for the foreseeable future.  Maybe it is just "the devil you know........" .  And, like it or not, the current negotiations with Iran are between Iran and the 5+1, not Iran and the US.  And if no deal is made, then any strengthening of sanctions will require a new deal between the 5+1.


Third, to the extent that the sanctions have been effective, it is because they involve more than just the US; the US is just a drop in the world bucket. The US has not bought a drop of oil from Iran in over 35 years. The address before Congress, while probably helping him politically at home 2 weeks before a tough election, probably had no effect on the other members of he 5+1. 

Politicians prefer things to be simple.

 




MarkVV
MarkVV

Netanyahu is wrong, and Kyle is wrong. Netanyahu would not accept any deal that a sovereign nation can live with. Let’s remember that any country has the right to develop nuclear power.


It is incredible, albeit not surprising, how many times one hears from the conservatives and Republicans that they ”do not trust Iran.” Negotiations and a deal like this are not matters of trust – they are matters of conditions and verification.

It is also incredible that the same people believe that further and further sanctions would result in a better deal. Rulers of a country that is threatened close to collapse have always one option – a war. It is rather surprising that Netanyahu, who knows history (unlike apparently many of his supporters here) would forget the lesson of the Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath.


Regardless how much people like Netanyahu and Kyle deny that the only alternative to the deal the coalition is negotiating with Iran is a war, it is a war. And I doubt that the American people are ready for another war against a country, which has not attacked us.

ElectroRanger
ElectroRanger

Iran will never use the bomb if they get it. That would automatically turn the whole world against them. They look at a nuclear China and how they have become one of the biggest trading partners of ours and see it as a way to get a seat at the table, in my opinion. Bibi's rhetoric hasn't changed much in 30 years, said basically the same thing in 1992, and trying to push the United States into war should be infuriating, but the hawks are already chomping at the bit to send our troops into another decades long war. The people of Iran are hungry for freedom and bombing them into submission or further increasing sanctions isn't going to win their hearts and minds. Let's give capitalism a chance! Negotiation can create the conditions for change there if we throw some more carrots out there and hold off on the stick. Anyone who says otherwise is afraid and fear is the mind killer.

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

@ElectroRanger "Negotiation can create the conditions for change there if we throw some more carrots out there and hold off on the stick"


Right, because that worked so well for us when NKorea was developing their bomb.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The value of Netanyahu’s speech was primarily the way he laid so bare the weakness of Obama’s policy and the partisanship of Obama’s supporters.


Yes, providing details to shape American public opinion was the motive behind the speech, but what the proponents forget is public opinion has no say in Obama's decisions.  He is a sole source policy wonk, what he wants is what he thinks is right, public opinion be damned.  Most all of his initiatives since he was elected have been unpopular, but he trudges on, marching to the beat of his own Alinsky model drum.   He is an autocrat on autopilot, never noticing that he is off course.

Salt-n-Light
Salt-n-Light

I wonder how effective an agreement with Iran will be without a jobs program? Just wonderin'

Salt-n-Light
Salt-n-Light

Netanyahu, a foreigner coming to America to do a job an American won't do.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Salt-n-Light And what job is that


War with Iran ?


I guess I should consider it progress that you guys are calling Obama an American these days. 

AvailableName
AvailableName

You and the Israeli Prime Minister seem to think that tough talk and continued sanctions will make the Iranians fold, meekly destroying thousands of centrifuges so as to bask in the warmth of the international community's approval.


Let's say the Iranians agreed.  You and BiBi say you can't trust 'em as far as you can throw them, why would you believe them then but don't believe them now?  That's really what it comes down to - Obama says work a deal that requires monitoring and you say hold out for a "better" deal that requires monitoring.  


Given the end result of either path, monitoring, the only real difference is your distaste for the "squish" President and admiration of the international "tough guy" in the mold of Netanyahu, W and Putin.

Salt-n-Light
Salt-n-Light

Why is it so hard to understand that after Iran nukes Israel it's coming after the US? It's a shame our allies can't even count on us to protect our MUTUAL interests.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Is this the Iran that today is 1 year away from having an atomic bomb or the Iran that 20 years ago was 1 year away from having an atomic bomb?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Finn-McCool It is the same Iran, the same one that 30 years ago ransacked our embassy and took our diplomats hostage.  They haven't changed and are not going to change, whether they get an "agreement" or not.  They will still be trying for some leverage against the west, no matter what form the leverage takes.  The agreement will be just a piece of paper honored by one side and laughed at by the other.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@Finn-McCool No, I think it's the Iran that will be 1-year away from having it in another 20 years.