Friday, July 24, 2015

Congress Must Stand up for American People's Interest over Netanyahu

As Peter Beinart observed in Haaretz (7/15/15), Israel and the United States (and the other members of the P5+1) have conflicting interests at stake when it comes to the Iran deal. Meanwhile, many in Congress are behaving like they represent Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli interest instead of the American People. When will voters get the message?

The bomb

The P5+1 have negotiated with Iran in order to take an Iranian nuclear bomb off the table indefinitely, and to prevent a nuclear arms race in the region. Israel and the Saudis have a different purpose. For Israel and the Saudis the primary goal has been to keep sanctions in place indefinitely in order to cripple Iran as a regional competitor.

The goal established by the P5+1 for these talks (taking an Iranian nuclear bomb off the table indefinitely) seems to have been achieved by the deal that has been negotiated. Iran promises to forego its ability to produce nuclear weapons and to permit the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor as necessary to verify compliance. Some are raising concerns that Iran might attempt to secretly develop nuclear weapons in breach of the agreement.  But this is not a concern that can be solved by any agreement. Ultimately any agreement must presuppose the good faith of the parties and must rely on the professionalism and skill of the IAEA inspectors to detect cheating if it occurs.

So why all the protest from Israel against this deal which pretty effectively takes the nuclear issue off the table for more than a decade? And why do so many in Congress assume that Israel’s protests are serving the interests of the United States? The key to understanding Israel’s opposition is that when Netanyahu brandished his cartoon nuclear bomb at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, he was not so much concerned with Iran achieving a milestone of enriching enough uranium to be able to build a few nuclear weapons—like North Korea has managed to do. After all, Israel is a nuclear superpower in the Middle East and they are reported to have more than 200 nuclear warheads, which they can launch from hardened land installations, bombers, or submarines. Israel has no realistic fear of an Iran potentially armed with a few nuclear warheads. Netanyahu was more broadly concerned with Iran as a regional rival.

Read the rest at Mondoweiss.

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