Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu today delivered a bold, stirring speech before Congress, using plain language to explain that the deal currently underway with Iran is a “very bad deal”. It was nonetheless a gracious speech, in which he thanked Congress and America in its tradition of helping and standing with Israel. He acknowledged both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for their efforts on behalf of Israel, despite the fact that these leaders were notably absent, having snubbed Netanyahu’s visit to Washington. Invited to address Congress by Speaker of the House John Boehner, Netanyahu seized the chance, knowing the platform gave him opportunity to make his case before the watching world. Accordingly he made an impassioned plea for the peace and survival of the Jewish nation of Israel, which he linked with the peace and survival of America and indeed, of the entire planet.
Netanyahu simply reminded listeners that Iran’s long history of aggression against other nations, its pattern of not abiding by its agreements, its repeated threats against America and against Israel, its support for and exportation of terrorism around the globe, makes it a nation not to be trusted in the current negotiations. He explained that the deal in progress allows Iran to continue building up a massive centrifuge capacity, which would eventually enable Iran to develop a powerful arsenal of nuclear weapons. Though the deal imposes certain restrictions, such as ongoing inspections, he argued that inspections only document infractions, and do not prevent them, as shown historically. Therefore, rather than stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, ultimately the deal “paves Iran’s path to the bomb”, which will in turn spark an arms race in the Middle East region as other nations arm themselves against a nuclear Iran.
With lifting of economic sanctions and its economy strengthened, Netanyahu argued Iran would only be emboldened to carry out further aggression.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism? Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
Netanyahu’s speech exposed the naivety (ideologically-induced blindness?) of the current Administration’ negotiations with Iran. He dismissed the idea that Iran’s already attained nuclear know-how and program is so advanced that it makes their attainment of nuclear weapons inevitable, saying that Iran won’t be able to make bombs in the future without a complete nuclear infrastructure of “thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities.” Netanyahu insisted we can prevent Iran from attaining such an infrastructure, rolling back their nuclear program “well beyond the current proposal, by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.”
Netanyahu summed up the choice before us:
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
Netanyahu boldly declared “even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand”, asserting that “the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.” Yet Netanyahu, reciting and recalling America’s long history of aiding Israel, remains hopefully confident America will indeed stand with Israel. “You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.” Quoting in Hebrew the words of Moses, Netanyahu ended his speech urging America and Israel to stand together in the face of those who would by violence remove freedom from us all. “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
Netanyahu’s refreshing speech was simply spoken, yet bold. He sees the enemy the world faces (a regime bent on world denomination) with clear-eyed realism, and asks for help as his nation seeks to defend its peace and ensure its survival in the face of threats of annihilation. How transformed might American foreign policy be, guided by the same rational assessment of the real dangers it faces in the world today.