A while ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu concluded his speech to the US Congress - you know, the one that John Boehner invited him to in a blatant attempt to circumvent the President's Constitutional powers on foreign policy. For anyone watching the speech, there were a few obvious things.
First, the controversy generated by Boehner's botched invitation forced Netanyahu to be uncharacteristically nice to President Obama at the beginning of the speech. Not only did Bibi list acts of support to Israel by President Obama, he went to pains to say that some of the most important contributions President Obama has made to Israel's security will never be known because of classified information, but that he (Bibi) thanks the president for it. Both President Obama and Harry Reid were singled out for praise by Netanyahu, but no Republican was. That had to sting a little.
The second obvious was - or at least should have been - that in the main event of the speech, Bibi basically delivered George W. Bush's address to Congress, only he replaced Iraq with Iran. Other than that, the same fear mongering, the same pokes at the hard work weapons inspectors do and the same derision of peaceful resolution to conflict were everpresent.
Third, the level of adulation members of US Congress reserved for a foreign leader should have creeped the hell out of any American, no matter who that foreign leader is.
But it's the less obvious in Bibi's speech I want to address today. His main act - his argument against the possible deal being negotiated with Iran - felt desperate and somewhat resigned. There was no shortage of perpetual war lingo, to be sure. But there were certain indications that even Bibi knew that he was powerless to stop it. For one thing, he pleaded with world powers to make sure that Iran adhered to certain conditions - like stopping support for terrorism and stopping threats against Israel - by the end of the possible deal's life, a decade if not at the beginning. I see no reason for that pleading if he didn't see a deal as at least somewhat of a foregone conclusion.
Which brings me to the second, and more important sign of Bibi's desperation. As I said, he continuously pleaded with world powers. Not the United States, not the President of the United States, but world powers. Most media outlets probably won't notice this, and those that do will see it as Netanyahu not wanting to directly criticize President Obama.
But that's not it. The reason both Bibi and the Republican Congress is desperate to stop a historic Iran deal by this president is because they know that if anyone can do this, it's President Obama. Because President Obama is trusted across the Middle East and the world as an honest broker who doesn't simply pay lip service to peace. Not only is he the president that has concluded two badly managed wars he inherited from his predecessor, he is also the man who is already responsible for disarming, without a single shot being fired, a middle eastern despot in the middle of a civil war. Syria not only had weapons of mass destruction but was using them when Barack Obama got them to give it up.
Netanyahu knows, for all of his appeal to a war happy Congress, Barack Obama's success in Syria speaks far, far louder. Despite his pronouncements to the contrary, Bibi knows that the proof of whether a despotic power can be disarmed is in the pudding, and that Obama is eating his lunch when it comes to convincing the stakeholders in this - the "world powers" he speaks of. It's one reason President Obama can confidently dismiss Bibi's crybaby attitude, pointing out that Netanyahu has cried wolf about Iran before, and none of his dire warnings has come true.
This is why the Global Right Wing is freaking the hell out. To be sure, President Obama has been perhaps the most cautious figure in these talks, warning that Iran is still more likely to walk away than to deal - but that if they do, it won't be because we did not exhaust all options. Yet they know that no one is more serious about peace or more committed to global security than this president. And they also know that he has earned capital with other regional and global powers that is a huge asset. If anyone can resolve this, it's Barack Obama. Hence, it is the president's global leadership that is the greatest threat to global warmongerers.
What Bibi already also knows is that Congress has already checked out of the process in its zeal to undercut the President, forcing the president to negotiate the agreement in a way that would be enforceable without Congress' political paws.
If this weren't the case, there would be no need for Boehner to humiliate himself in an attempt to humiliate the president, and there would be no reason for Netanyahu to risk his relationships with this president by accepting the invitation. The reason they had to do it now is because they are desperate. And they are desperate because they know "world powers" respect, trust and follow this president.
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.