You might not get a chance to vote against yet another war, if Netanyahu has his way.
Remember how Dick Cheney and George W Bush conflated Hussein with Osama bin Laden and the press let them? Yesterday Netanyahu made the rounds conflating violence in Libya with the “regime” in Iran, as he made a call to war with Iran. Since Romney’s chances of winning don’t look good right now, it appears as if Netanyahu’s new strategy might be to start the war before this election, in order to force Obama’s hand into supporting a preemptive war.
Netanyahu had a sure bet with Romney. When Romney was in Israel, he was not only accused by the Israeli press of being a mouth piece for “King Bibi” (as Time dubbed him), but also of taking instructions from Netanhayu after Romney canceled a meeting with Netanhayu’s opposition. This is the Republicans’ idea of a “strong leader”; someone who lets himself be led around like a lost puppy by a foreign government.
Yesterday, the media drummed up the fear over the “chaos” in the Middle East, ignoring the fact that the new Libyan government is still weak – but what can you expect from a press who thought Obama “gaffed” as he quietly warned Egypt to condemn the attacks — while at the same time Netanyahu made his play for war.
The media repeated laughable Republican talking points that this administration is “impotent”, perhaps inadvertently buttressing the Republican argument for war. If you’re impotent and you’re a Republican, you go to war. You shoot first and aim later.
Mad at protesters in Libya? Invade Iran. Mad at Osama bin Laden? Invade Iraq to get Saddam Hussein.
Netanyahu pulled a Bush/Cheney on his Sunday appearances, as Andrew Sullivan observed today, “equating Salafist Sunni mobs in Libya with the Shiite dictatorship in Iran.” Sullivan’s must read article is titled “Is Netanyahu Trying To Blow Up The Election?” He writes:
He (Netanyahu) is now actively involved in the Republican campaign to get a war against Iran – preferably before the election in order to scramble a race that Obama now looks as if he could win. He is pulling a Cheney, equating Salafist Sunni mobs in Libya with the Shiite dictatorship in Iran:
“Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism. It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. Do you want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”
Romney’s Bush foreign policy PR team made the rounds yesterday, trying to heat up Cold War sentiment against Obama in a deluded desire to turn Romney into Reagan and Obama into Carter, in spite of national security and foreign policy being two areas Americans rightly trust Obama with much more than they do Romney. But “Obama is Carter” is the desperate Republicans’ new talking point, as they go defcon 4 on FEAR. See how that works? They beat the drums of war on one hand and then suggest that Obama can’t be trusted under these circumstances because he is Carter (forget that Obama got Osama).
Here’s Netanyahu again conflating Iran with the attacks of the protesters on CNN, “This is a regime that is giving vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East.”
Iran is already facing the consequences of tougher sanctions than Bush used against Iran, courtesy of President Barack Obama. In fact, according to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, “their oil production and currency have both plummeted 40%.”
What exactly is this “red line” of threatened military action Netanyahu wants? And where is the evidence of his allegations? If he doesn’t want to interfere in an election, why is he ratcheting up the fear-laden conflations right now, as Mitt Romney helplessly struggles to steady himself from his latest foreign policy disaster (speaking of “impotence”)?
Just ten years after the WMD lie, Republicans are assisting Netanyahu in the exact same formula that landed us in Iraq: Hunt down any possible excuse for war, conflate the attacks with the country they want to invade, and double down on fear mongering.
This morning on Morning Joe we were treated to the trickle down justification for a preemptive war, when Scarborough announced that all Muslims hate us, “If you scratch the surface, and if you gave every street vendor to prime minister in that region a chance to throw a rock at the U.S. embassy, they would. You know why they hate us? They hate us because of their religion, they hate us because of their culture, and they hate us because of peer pressure.”
Speaking of peer pressure, Americans need to be very wary. We’ve never received an apology from these same warmongers for their “mistake” over their claims of Iraq having “weapons of mass destruction”. Their word is worth nothing and deserves brutal scrutiny at this point. After all, the warnings have been coming for twenty years that Iran had weapons of mass destruction that were going to bring about World War III if they weren’t stopped.
The conflation has already been achieved courtesy of Republican war hawks who are helping Netanyahu make his case to the American public. Are we ready for liftoff? Middle East, chaos, must go to war.
Must decisions like war be reduced to such stark choices — war or sure death (as if war were not sure death)? Is that reality? Yes, an Iran with nuclear weapons is a threat, but we are watching carefully as we up the sanctions against Iran. We should look at all sides of this equation before lurching into yet another hawkish nightmare, tripping on fear — our patriotism hijacked for nefarious purposes by egos resistant to fact-checking.
For example, might we concede that a historian of the modern Middle East might have some insight worthy of listening to, over a politician with a clear agenda? Juan Cole presented the “myths” about Iran’s nuclear enrichment this morning, beginning with this:
Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program is alleged by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be a stealth nuclear weapons program. But there is no evidence at all for this allegation, and it was contradicted by Netanyahu’s own Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who admitted that Iran has not decided to initiate a nuclear weapons program.
Israel’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has also admitted that Iran has not decided to build a bomb.
Ready to invade, or should we wait for evidence this time, since the last time we were wrong? The Israeli press muse that a war with Iran could destroy Israel; this is no small decision to be rushed into in order to appease Bibi’s far right dreams of war. What is really best for Israel? Has that question been debated honestly?
Netanyahu seems to think he’s running America’s foreign policy, as he would be under a Romney presidency. Since that seems more and more unlikely, he’s now trying to “blow up this election” by forcing us into war. However, it’s vital to remember that Netanyahu doesn’t speak for all Israelis, just as Dick Cheney doesn’t speak for all Americans.
In February of this year, only 19% of Israelis supported a unilateral strike against Iran without the support of the US. “The poll’s conductor Telhami concluded that “the Israeli public is neither enthusiastic about the prospect of war with Iran nor swayed by the seeming embrace of Israel by our presidential candidates.” He added: “They have to live with the consequences of war, and they appear to take the American assessment of these consequences seriously.” ”
Netanhayu needs the United States in order to sell his war to his own people, and he’s trying to force Obama into giving it to him.
America is Israel’s ally, but Netanyahu’s war mongering on our behalf and abuse of a politically sensitive election is unacceptable. An ally is defined as a nation that pledges to protect the other when it’s under attack — not engage in preemptive war based on the craven manipulation of our emotions over the deaths of four Americans.
If ever there was a time to appreciate Barack Obama’s cool head and even temperament, this is it. Once again, we find ourselves dragged over the precipice of reason by nothing but empty fear mongering as a willing press enables it.
Not this time. This country elected President Barack Obama, and he and he alone should be in charge of foreign policy and national security right now. We know who to vote for if we want endless war. We did not make that choice in 2008.
Netanhayu/Republicans are not in charge of America’s foreign policy. They’re playing a dangerous game, putting America at risk once again, and all but inserting themselves as power over the democratically elected President. If they think we aren’t awake this time, they are in for a rude awakening.
Image: John Cole