I was pondering a post about Netanyahu’s speech and its rapturous reception by the chickenhawks in Congress, but Fred Kaplan at Slate beat me to it:
Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress on Tuesday was a disturbing spectacle: shallow, evasive, short on logic, and long on cynicism.
The Israeli prime minister pretended to criticize the specific deal that the United States and five other nations are currently negotiating with Iran, but it’s clear from his words that he opposes any deal that falls short of Iran’s total disarmament and regime change. He pretended merely to push for a “better deal,” but he actually was agitating for war….
It’s worth noting, for now, that Netanyahu has been consistently wrong on this whole issue. He denounced the interim accord, signed a year ago, as a fraud that wildly favored the Iranians and that the Iranians would soon violate anyway; in fact, it’s been remarkably effective at freezing Iran’s nuclear activities, while freeing up a small fraction of its sanctioned funds. For the past 15 years, he’s been warning that Iran could or would go nuclear in the next year—and yet, here he still stands, in a Middle East where the only nation with nuclear weapons is his own.
I agree with Kaplan–and with the sober analysts (including, importantly, military leaders in Israel) who have warned that this Bibi/Boehner bit of political theater not only undermines the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Israel, but misrepresents the threat posed by Iran.
But what Kaplan and others haven’t addressed is even more disturbing: the Republican worldview–prominently on display during Bibi’s speech–that celebrates impetuous saber-rattling, prefers armchair “warriors” (let’s you and him fight) to thoughtful diplomats, and approaches all potential conflicts through a lens with only two categories: good guys or “evil doers.” It’s a worldview that valorizes strongmen like Putin, war criminals like Cheney and shallow, self-righteous “leaders” like Netanyahu.
It’s a worldview that prefers the simplicity of the bumper-sticker to the messy complexity of the real world. It’s childish– and it’s incredibly dangerous.