The Obama administration should just shut up about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled Tuesday speech to Congress. Israel’s very existence, not America’s, would be threatened by an Iranian nuclear bomb — and isn’t it high time he made that case directly to Congress.
Netanyahu accepted an invitation to appear from House Speaker John Boehner, extended without consultation with the White House. Admittedly this was a lapse in protocol, but only amateurs let personal grievances and lapses in protocol distract them from pursuit of the national interest.
Obama proclaimed many times that Iran would not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon. Yet if leaks about a developing agreement between Iran and the six countries negotiating with it are true — and there’s no reason to doubt them — the United States and its collaborators have retreated from an insistence that there be no enrichment of uranium to what amounts to a 10-year standstill, after which Iran would be free to do what it likes with its nuclear facilities.
Clearly Netanyahu has not forgotten threats from Iranian leaders pledging to wipe Israel off the map. Obama has either forgotten them or does not think they’re important.
Some Democratic lawmakers (including members of the Massachusetts delegation) have said they will not attend the speech. Shame on them. All members should go, as a courtesy if nothing else, but really to hear first-hand details of Israel’s grave concerns. They shouldn’t worry about whether this helps Netanyahu in upcoming Israeli elections; the balance of electoral benefit or harm is not at all clear.
Administration officials resent a foreign leader’s lobbying against their policy, but did not shrink from deploying Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, to lobby for it during Cameron’s January visit. Such inconsistency makes it harder to take the administration seriously.