With still a month to go before US lawmakers vote on the Iran nuclear deal, the pro and anti sales pitching is officially very ugly....and there's time and energy for more.

The relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken a quantum leap for the worse, as each man ratchets up his case for or against the Iran deal, supposedly in the best interests of their respective countries.

Where it is ugly is the bind that American Jewish politicians find themselves in as targets of a multi-million dollar campaign to convince them to vote against Obama.

Netanyahu's campaign against Iran has been building for years and is obviously at a critical juncture, not helped by the fact that he is the only leader of any country who opposes the deal despite the logic on which it is based and which the six world powers who negotiated it have convincingly presented.

Tens of millions of dollars are being poured into anti-deal ads in the U.S. using the arguments of the people who argued for war in Iraq, and we all know how that went.

Netanyahu was a most vociferous supporter of that war, which ironically took out Iran's biggest headache next door.

Netanyahu has also most recently addressed by video 10,000 Americin Jewish leaders and activists from Jerusalem to warn them of the perils of the deal. AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobby groups are all over Capitol Hill canvassing against the deal.

What is unprecedented is the leader of one country working so adamantly to interfere with the democratic process in another country.

It seems to be irrelevant that Obama as the president of the U.S. is promoting this bill because it is in the best interests of the country he leads - particularly unusual when that country just so happens to by your patron.

The New York Times referred to what is now an "unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader".

In what is being called a 'payback speech' (which many commentators in Israel believe to be an unsettling but logical response to Netanyahu's antics) Obama came out swinging in defence of the Iran deal and against the "drumbeat of war".

He pointedly noted he's made a lot of tough calls as President, "but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls, it's not even close".

American security, because first and foremost that is his job.

It would be a violation of his constitutional duty to act against his best judgement "simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally".

A dear friend and ally who has now pushed the relationship way too far and to the point where it looks as if he is waging battle with Obama for the personal gratification of  (possibly) humiliating the President by losing him this deal.

The extension of such a loss however would not make Israel any safer, and surely it is Netanyahu's job to, as Obama says he's doing, put Israel's safety first.

If US sanctions remain, there is nothing left to bind the the other parties to the deal. They, including Iran can do what they like. Economic sanctions will be dropped by countries eager to do business with Iran. Iran will no longer be bound by any curb on its nuclear facilities. It will be back in business economically, and angry. Its proxies - Hizbollah and Hamas are not very keen on Israel and mighty close to Tel Aviv.

The only logical alternative of this deal is war. It is not to have another crack at the current deal on the table.

It will be a close numbers game for Obama, closer still now leading Democrat Chuck Schumer has announced he will vote against the deal and with the Republicans.

However as a clear example of the duel allegiances many U.S. lawmakers face, Schumer, who voted for the Iraq war,needs a little unpacking. He's described himself as Israel's best friend in the Senate, and in 2010 boasted God gave him the name 'Shomer' which he (questionably) translates to be 'watcher' or 'guardian' and he puts it together as being proudly 'Shomer Yisrael' - a god appointed watcher of Israel which he vowed to "continue to be with every bone in my body'. George W Bush boasted about God telling him to do things, but isn't there a plethora of evidence for the wisdom of the separation of church and state?

The Jewish magazine The Tablet, has accused the White House of using "anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool" , of "Jew baiting dog whistle" politics and Obama as resorting to "dark nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally".

Not surprising really if married with Republican hopefuls like Mike Huckabee's outrageous claim that Obama "would take the Israelis and basically March them to the door of the oven"; and Ted Cruz's claim Iran will nuke Israel and consider the Palestinians who would be taken out in such an attack to be "perfectly acceptable collateral damage to annihilating millions of Jews".

Netanyahu's stoking of Holocaust guilt continues - sometimes blatantly as in " the Ayatollahs in Iran they deny the Holocaust while planning another genocide against our people". Sometimes he's more subtle telling this week's video audience in " not so long ago the Jewish people were either incapable or unwilling to speak out in the face of mortal threats and this had devastating consequences".

Over the next month there will be more and more of this, combined with a massive increase in the effort the Obama administration will be putting in to convincing enough Democrats to stick with the President.

Netanyahu will not give in either, especially when he is now also haunted by a diplomatic campaign in the run up to the September meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Egypt and a number of other Arab and Muslim states will be putting forward a resolution to subject Israel to international supervision of its nuclear facilities.

It would not be legally binding but would be diplomatically damaging, and a deal with Iran might make such a resolutiion significantly harder to defeat.

After all as Iran's Foreign Minister wrote in the Guardian, "Iran has signed a historic nuclear deal - now it is Israeli's turn".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (4)

by Murray Grimwood on August 10, 2015
Murray Grimwood

It never ceases to amaze me how many folk can pen intelligent, in-depth articles which entirely miss the mark. The Iran ‘deal’ is about energy. Unlike money or social posturing, energy is essential to life both for individuals and for societies. There is no PlanB.

A small country sitting on top of an energy resource, is at a disadvantage facing an Empire capable of taking the resource by force and/or by replacing local representation with compliant corruption. As Iraq proved. Are we in NZ winning recipients of this process? Google Ken Sarowiwa and see if you can trace his hanging to your tank.

Protest – up to and including flying aeroplanes into key buildings – is one method of fighting back. The other is to get your hands on the ultimate deterrent; making up in one move for your lack of ability to arm in breadth.

The Empire, mindful of a cheque-book-bearing pretender (or two), has negotiated a win-win. Access to possibly the last/best source on the planet and short of an energy-sapping invasion. This is just part of the game of energy chess (Kipling’s Great Game, in essence) on a board which extends from Poland to Pakistan.

Everything – every subject under the sun (think: child poverty, refugees, commodity price-falls) is subservient to energy availability; something reporters, economists and society-at-large seem not to grasp. Try not eating while sitting with friends on a pile of banknotes – a great exercise in learning to apportion weighting.

by mikesh on August 10, 2015
mikesh

Iran and Russia seem to be two major sources of natural gas. I suspect America would like to see Europe's gas being supplied by Iran rather than Russia, as this would damage Russia economically.

by Murray Grimwood on August 10, 2015
Murray Grimwood

 You're right but I think it's more than just economically. Russia has to be 'taken out' before China and who knows what happens to the Russian gas while that plays out.

Watch Putins body language. He doesn't look like a dictator to me, he has a look of the inevitable about him; like he's done the sums and knows they have to fight. And lose.

Interesting times - this can only play out once, globally.

by Flat Eric on August 12, 2015
Flat Eric

You omitted to quote this speech, which even the Guardian reported, to balance your opinion piece. The reason Iran would like Israel to be bound is so that Iran and its proxies (even now building new tunnels) can overwhelm with conventional weapons.

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