Archive for the ‘aipac’ category

Once More On Iran, Chuck Schumer

August 8, 2015

The big news yesterday was that New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer has declared his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal presently before Congress. While far from unexpected, his decision to oppose has burst the bubble of many progressives who viewed Schumer as a thoughtful, fact driven legislator. Now the smell of opportunist and being too close a friend of AIPAC is filling the air. Hmmm.

Opposition to the deal is itself not an issue. The agreement is complicated and whether Iran will honor their “promises” is problematic. The refrain, however, that the US should holdout for a better deal is clearly a ruse. Opponents really believe no deal is possible and accordingly want to remain on “war prepared” footing. While these opponents strenuously deny war is inevitable, their opposition makes little sense on other bases.

Schumer’s opposition stands in the face of two worrisome implications. First, AIPAC is clearly aligned with Israel’s current government and sees the Iran negotiations from those eyes. This is plain and simply dangerous for someone who is likely to be the next Senate Democrat leader. How can the President or anyone else ask Schumer for his advice knowing it will be whatever AIPAC (or should I say Israel) wants?

The second issue is Schumer’s statements that he will work for Senate rejection of the agreement (and presumably this means to override any Presidential veto too).  What happens next in that case.  The UN has already approved the agreement and the rest of the world is lining up to begin trade with Iran. A one country sanction will hardly impact Iran. Opponents may talk boldly about increasing the level of sanctions, but with the world trading with Iran, a US trade embargo will amount to a mosquito bite.



A Bad Deal?

April 6, 2015

The Netanyahu-AIPAC-GOP Congress cry this week continues to be “a bad deal is worse than no deal at all”. These well tuned words underline an important difference of opinion, and quite frankly display flawed logic. Let me explain.

“No deal” is the current state. There are economic sanctions which have strangled the Iranian economy. The West lead by the US and abetted by Israel threatens the very Iranian existence claim the more conservative Iranian elements. The Iran Government, however, finds ways to continue pursuing nuclear technology, enriching uranium, developing missiles, deploying its troops and supporting its allies Hezbollah and Hamas in regional conflicts. Not a pretty picture to me.

So what can happen with the current situation? Iran, of course, could have a change of heart (like Kadafi and Libya did) and voluntarily destroy their nuclear facilities. Not likely.

More certain would be a continuance of the current nuclear programs with the ultimate development and deployment of nuclear weapons. The price of Middle East poker would go up.

Both Israel and President Obama (speaking for US policy) have said they will not allow Iran to development or obtain nuclear weapons. Hmmm. That must mean military intervention at some future time.

So what happens with a “bad” deal?

Iran could “cheat” or at least not follow the implied meanings of the “deal”. Sooner or later, under this scenario, Iran would in secret develop nuclear capability and deploy it on weapons. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like doing nothing…

The kindest words that can be said about all the rhetoric in opposition to the “deal” announced last week is that opponents want to characterize Iran as untrustworthy and those who would trust a deal are politically naive. Opposing the deal is a “no lose” position.

If the deal works, the world is better off. If the deal fails, the world is no worse than it is today but these opponents gain enormous bragging rights about how shrewd they are (and by implication why they should be elected).

It must be acknowledged that the “deal” is not done and awaits detailed, yet to be negotiated language. It is fully possible that no deal may emerge. It is also fully possible that a detailed document does emerge and Iran either cheats or interprets the document differently. And should the GOP gain the White House in 2016, it is not out of the question that a new GOP Administration might renege on the “deal” and Iran would restart its program.

Another argument against the “deal” being put forth by Prime Minister Netanyahu is that other Middle East countries will begin their paths to the bomb if this deal goes through. And Netanyahu wants us to believe status quo will prevent this possibility?

One thing the “deal” does accomplish is to squarely expose the Israeli flawed position on its negotiations (or lack there of) with the Palestinian Authority. No negotiation eliminates the need to make a “deal” and making a “deal’ opens the possibility that the deal could fail.

But I wonder whether no deal is a bad deal?

Easy Decision

February 26, 2015

Senate Democrats, for reasons not clear, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with them in a “closed door” session during his upcoming Congress visit. Netanyahu declined for reasons most likely related to trying to keep Democrats from mass boycotting his speech to Congress. So tell me again why Netanyahu is speaking before Congress?

AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) is meeting during the same week that Netanyahu visits. AIPAC is an un-apologist for all matters dealing with Israel and solid supporter of its conservative lead government. AIPAC is also quick to intimidate or congratulate (with $$$) US political figures based upon their level of unquestioning support for Israel. Netanyahu is a regular visitor to AIPAC conventions. Hmmm.

So in the world of Washington dysfunctional politics, Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak before a combined session of both Houses of Congress, two weeks before the next Israeli general election, while unprecedented, came as no surprise. Netanyahu’s acceptance, however, was surprising.

Netanyahu undoubtably knows that Boehner is not leading a well oiled machine. With a huge majority in the House, Boehner’s majority has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to deny funding for the Homeland Security Department (by attaching conditions which he knows in advance cannot pass in the Senate). His legislative activity is not exactly speaking for all Americans.

But then Netanyahu’s views for Israel do not speak for all Israelis, or for the best interests of Israel’s neighbors. Divide and conquer, however, is and has been a well known strategy to win in tactical situations. Why not try it in Washington.

President Obama has done well to keep his rhetoric controlled and above the gutter where Speaker Boehner and Netanyahu seem comfortable. The President and Vice President will be out of town or unavailable to meet with Netanyahu, and now Congressional Democrats must decide whether they will attend Netanyahu’s speech. (I can imagine the pressure which the combination “threat and reward” AIPAC money can mean in the life of Democrat Congress members.)


Any Congress member who wants to know Netanyahu’s thoughts (as if they don’t already) can go to the AIPAC meeting. Republican members will understandably follow Boehner’s lead and attend the Congressional speech. But why should Democrats even think about this for a moment?

Netanyahu’s speech is a partisan speech and unfit for the floor of Congress. It should be an easy decision to spend the day instead at the National Gallery where Congress members could learn something.