Friday, March 2, 2012

Between Barack and a hard place

MadDog in comments over at EmptyWheel reads the Obama interview by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic and the Netanyahu analysis by Daniel Levy in Foreign Policy and asks us:
Ask yourself if Bibi hasn’t boxed Obama into a explicit “strike Iran” corner, or at the very least, shifted US foreign policy on Iran so far to the right that the US will have no choice but to commit to “strike Iran"?
Given that Bibi has already locked up a guaranteed Repug commitment to his “strike Iran” cause, then view Bibi’s moves described in those 2 articles as closing the deal with Obama.
So I did, but I got a different answer than he did; namely, "No." And if anybody's boxed in, it's the icky PM.

Levy's article seemed to me to be about how Netanyahu may be strong at the moment in political position in Israel but is weak by nature, a typical bully, really, dangerous only [jump]
as long as he's allowed to be by those who are stronger. What I got from the interview in the first place was a really heightened respect for Obama's mastery of diplomatese, a language meant to be misunderstood by those who are not the intended recipients of the message, so I could of course be part of the crowd that's supposed to be bamboozled and totally wrong and I honestly wouldn't even feel embarrassed, though I might be pretty annoyed.

Not that I think he's saying the US will not attack Iran. It's more like, Don't you worry your pretty little (or in Netanyahu's case pretty large) head; we've got the situation covered, and we will decide when to attack Iran, and all options are on the table, including the option of never.

I don't know exactly what the prime minister is going to be coming with. We haven't gotten any indication that there is some sharp "ask" that is going to be presented.
I.e., I may have heard of some kind of proposal, but I haven't officially heard of it, so if you officially bring it up don't expect me not to be officially surprised.
When we came in, Iran was united and on the move, and the world was divided about how to address this issue. Today, the world is as united as we've ever seen it around the need for Iran to take a different path on its nuclear program, and Iran is isolated and feeling the severe effects of the multiple sanctions that have been placed on it.
I.e., it's not as if our approach wasn't getting any results.
At the same time, we understand that the bottom line is: Does the problem get solved? And I think that Israel, understandably, has a profound interest not just in good intentions but in actual results. And in the conversations I've had over the course of three years, and over the course of the last three months and three weeks, what I've emphasized is that preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn't just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States.
I.e., I'm certainly not going to publicly call you weak and hysterical if it's not necessary, and you ought to know that by now.
I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.
 I.e., but by the same token, you have no excuse for publicly calling me weak and appeasing.
And I think the prime minister and the defense minister, [Ehud Barak,] feel a profound, historic obligation not to put Israel in a position where it cannot act decisively and unilaterally to protect the state of Israel. I understand those concerns, and as a consequence, I think it's not surprising that the way it gets framed, at least in this country... that articles and stories get framed in terms of Israel's potential vulnerability.
I.e., what did I just say?
But I want to make clear that when we travel around the world and make presentations about this issue, that's not how we frame it. We frame it as: this is something in the national-security interests of the United States and in the interests of the world community.
I.e., and if on occasion you don't like the sound, maybe you could start not listening to me as carefully as I don't listen to you.
our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily. And the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table.
I.e., an attack is not going to accomplish anything, so just drop it.
what I think is absolutely true is that the prime minister and I come out of different political traditions. This is one of the few times in the history of U.S.-Israeli relations where you have a government from the right in Israel at the same time you have a center-left government in the United States, and so I think what happens then is that a lot of political interpretations of our relationship get projected onto this.
ZOMG, he said left! He never said left before! Oh, Barack, I'm so sorry I doubted you! I was always a believer at heart!

 And goodbye Davy, of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment