Thursday September 27, 2012
The Incoherence of Netanyahu’s Message on Iran
It came as no surprise to anyone that the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu would hardly have any mention of Palestinians, and would instead be focused on war-mongering against Iran. Indeed, the only implicit reference to the Palestinians occurred when Netanyahu falsely accused Abbas of delivering a “libelous” speech before the U.N. General Assembly by outlining Israel’s record of obstructionism on the two-state solution. While many political speeches can be contradicted by unmentioned facts, Netanyahu’s was one of those rare speeches that actively contradict themselves in the course of making their central argument.
In arguing that Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons could not be tolerated as it was with the Soviet Union, Netanyahu said, “Deterrence worked with the Soviets because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival.” Citing the distasteful Bernard Lewis, Netanyahu went on to argue that for that for the “apocalyptic… Ayatollahs of Iran, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.” Scary stuff! So what’s the solution to dealing with apocalyptic leaders who welcome their own death and destruction in the pursuit of conflict? According to Netanyahu, the only solution is to threaten them with military conflict through the setting of “red lines.” Here is how he said it: “There is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs, and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
So which is it, exactly? Is the Iranian regime so irrational and apocalyptic that it could not be dissuaded by the threat of utter obliteration from engaging in nuclear war? Or is it so rational and conflict-averse that it can be peacefully dissuaded from advancing its nuclear program through red lines and the threat of conventional military force? To make matters more bizarre, Netanyahu pulled out a completely useless and incongruous visual aid, a cartoonish drawing of a bomb, as seen in the photo above, to argue for drawing a red line at a certain level of Iranian uranium enrichment (thank god for that drawing, now we totally get it).
While Iran has repeatedly denied that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, and the goal of its program remains in dispute, one can still legitimately express concerns about that program. What makes Netanyahu’s speech objectionable is not just his trigger-happy rhetoric and reliance on confrontation and intimidation, but also his being the Prime Minister of a country that possesses hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons that is actively dismantling Palestinian society in violation of countless U.N. resolutions.
The international community needs to set red lines for Israel’s destructive behavior in Palestine. Once Israel becomes a peaceful and law-abiding nation, I’m sure the international community will be a lot more interested in hearing their concerns about other countries’ aggressive behavior. As for the nuclear issue, it can be consistently resolved by coming to an agreement that makes the entire Middle East a WMD-free zone. Guess what regional country stands alone in its opposition to that?blog comments powered by Disqus