The United States of Israel

There is no polite way to say this, but Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the most repellent and dangerous politicians in the world today.   He is a man who trades on fear and war, a cynical and amoral manipulator without a trace of honesty in his entire body,  who lies as easily as he breathes.   In 2012 he warned the United Nations that Iran was a year away from manufacturing a bomb, even though his own security services had told him something entirely different,

Last year he deliberately used the murders of three Israeli teenagers to manipulate Israeli public opinion into supporting the ferocious and strategically meaningless slaughter in Gaza.

He also manipulates his most powerful ally.  In public Netanyahu never ceases to express his love and gratitude to the United States, which props up Israel’s military machine.  Yet in private he’s not always so respectful.  Back in 2001 he told a group of settlers in the West Bank ‘I know what America is.  America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.’

Netanyahu cannot be ignored entirely, not as long as Israelis are crazy enough to keep voting for him.  But no country with any respect for truth or even its own national interest would actually invite a man like this to speak to its own elected representatives if it didn’t have to, let alone invite him in order to undermine the policy of its elected president. But this exactly what happened yesterday when Netanyahu went to Washington, following an ‘invitation’ arranged between Republican speaker of the House John Boehner and the Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.

This demarche was deliberately intended to torpedo the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and pave the way for a new bill imposing harsher sanctions on Iran. His audience knew what he was going to say,  because everyone always knows what Netanyahu is going to say when it comes to Iran.   Yesterday all the usual buttons were pushed; references to the Holocaust and condemnations of the ‘genocidal’ Iranian regime; Hezbollah and Iran’s ‘march of terror’; five-minutes-to-midnight warnings of nuclear war; and ominous references to ‘Munich’, because Israel’s enemies are always Hitler in Netanyahu’s eyes.

And not only to him.   To the moronic Republican party, whose collective brain is now so rotted by the paranoia, war and militarism and Zionist propaganda that it has been injecting into its veins for years that it no longer even knows how to think, Netanyahu’s was deep, deep stuff, a real clarion call.

Never mind that on Sunday 200 former Mossad veterans took the unprecedented step of staging a public press conference to condemn their own prime minister’s visit as a danger to Israel’s security and argue against imposing new sanctions. None of this had any impact on the glassy-eyed zombie-politicians who sat there in their silk ties and suits and their world-historical facial expressions, sucking up Netanyahu’s fearmongering, warmongering poison like alien seed pods in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

Because make no mistake about it, politicians who allow the leader of another country to insult and undercut their own elected government have had their minds well and truly snatched, or maybe they never had any to begin with.

When it was over the congressmen and senators got to their feet like one man, because they are in fact one man, and delivered no less than 26 standing ovations of the type that Stalin used to get when he announced a new five-year-plan.  Of course with Stalin it was Russians praising a Russian and the penalty might have been death if you didn’t stand up.

For the bozos who paid homage to the Great Liar yesterday, the worst that could happen was that their career trajectories might be altered.   But such is the hold that Israel now exercises over the Republican Party that even showing up wasn’t enough, you had to physically express your joy and rapture.  So Kentucky senator Rand Paul was criticized afterwards for looking ‘less than enthused’ and ‘clapping halfheartedly.’

Oh give me an absolute break already.   Whether they actually believed Netanyahu or were merely concerned about their careers and the cash that comes with them, these congressmen and senators effectively colluded with the leader of a foreign state in order to promote its foreign policy objectives and undermine those of their own.

It ought to be disturbing, and alarming, even from the point of view of America’s own national interest, that the leader of a nominal ally would be prepared to do this, and would receive support in doing so.   It ought to provide pause for thought as to why this has happened and what its potential ramifications are, and whether this relationship is entirely healthy.  But none of this is likely to come from those who participated in the weird spectacle that took place yesterday, who showed no evidence that they were capable of thinking anything at all, beyond what the Great Liar wanted them to think.

Statesmen

In these tense and troubled times, with the western world lurching toward a catastrophic war with Iran with all the vision and foresight of a stag party in the last stages of a pub crawl, we are fortunate to have leaders with the integrity, humanity, and foresight to calm the more rabid and hysterical spirits among us and steer us away from the brink.

Thus we saw Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a characteristically measured and thoughtful speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday, in which he rejected the ‘preposterous’ idea that ‘we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs’.

As usual, Netanyahu compared Iran to Nazi Germany and evoked the Holocaust as a justification for military action.  But he went further than usual, quoting from the 1944 US government letter of response to a request from the World Jewish Congress for America to bomb Auschwitz, which rejected this option on the grounds that  ‘Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.

Got that folks? No?  Let me break it down for you:  Ahmadinejad is Hitler and the Iranian nuclear program is paving the way for a new Auschwitz, so anyone who baulks at the idea of bombing the hell out of it is colluding with genocide.  There, that wasn’t so hard was it?

Even by Netanyahu’s standards this was a shamelessly manipulative and dishonest piece of warmongering and political blackmail, but such hyperbolic comparisons are only to be expected from a politician who would not recognize truth and integrity if they moved into his house and lived with him for the next twenty years.

The Israeli leader knows that he has Obama over a barrel, or feels that he has.   The U.S. president is in an election year, and anxious not to be outflanked by the  Republicans by showing less than whole-hearted support for the military option in dealing with Iran.

But Obama is also justifiably reticent about waging another war in the Middle East with unforeseeable consequences when his second term is by no means guaranteed.  In any case,  the leader of the world’s only superpower isn’t going to allow himself to be railroaded into a war that he doesn’t want by Netanyahu’s brazen demogoguery, is he?

Well maybe not, but then again maybe yes.   Last week Obama reassured Netanyahu before he had even arrived in the U.S. that he had ‘got Israel’s back’ and that he was ‘not bluffing’ about the prospect of military action against Iran.

Yesterday the Peace Laureate was in more nuanced and restrained mode, rebuking his Republican opponents who have been queuing up at the AIPAC policy conference for ‘beating the drums of war’ .  Obama pointed out, correctly,  that ‘ typically it’s not the folks who are popping off who pay the price’ for the wars they advocate, and warned Israel against taking  military action  ‘prematurely’.

All this sounds relatively sane compared with the bloodthirsty rantings of the G.O.P war clones queuing up at the AIPAC policy conference to reject Obama’s ‘appeasement’ and declare their willingness to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.   But tthen we learn from Haaretz that Obama has instructed his Defence Secretary Leon Panetta to accede to a request from Netanyahu for GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs and advanced refuelling aircraft.

So even as Obama  insists that his defence of ‘Israel’s back’ isn’t intended to give Netanyahu a green light for a preemptive military strike, he is speeding up the transfer of weapons that will make this outcome more likely.

And on the other side of the pond,  we have a country with centuries of experience in international affairs, whose government is able to offer a more sober assessment of the current crisis.  Thus David Cameron could be found yesterday warning the Commons liaison committee that Iran’s  ambitions ‘ were dangerous for the Middle East’ and also posed a security threat to the UK, since there are signs that the Iranians want to have some sort of inter-continental missile capability’.

These ‘signs’ follow similar declarations from William Hague last month that a nuclear Iran could trigger a ‘new Cold War’ and that Iranian missiles could reach the UK.  Though Cameron, like Obama, warned Israel of the dangers of ‘premature’ military action, his speech produced the predictable flurry of dread-soaked headlines in the national press today, as it was undoubtedly intended to.

Dictionary.com defines the noun ‘statesman’ as a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.’  Your Dictionary defines ‘ statesmanship’ as: ‘ the ability, character, or methods of a statesman; skill and vision in managing public affairs.’

When the historians of the future look back on our era, they may well be struck by the  absence of any of these qualities amongst the leaders who are currently dragging the world toward disaster.  Because rather than statesmanship, the evidence of the last week suggests that we are ruled by liars, cowards and weak men who lack either  vision or wisdom, and that we are all trapped dangerously in the world defined by the Katha Upanishad in which

Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.