Dr. Strangelove’s House Call
February 26, 2015 § 3 Comments
The House Call
John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, without consulting with the President and heedless of its potentially disruptive effect on current negotiations with Iran concerning its nuclear program, has invited Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister facing a serious election contest within a few weeks, to address a joint session of Congress, an opportunity rarely offered to a foreign leader and never before offered as a brazen act of hostility toward the President of the United States.
Mr. Netanyahu, also without consulting the President, accepted the invitation and has declared his intention to deliver a speech deliberately designed to undermine and disapprove the President’s efforts to reach a peaceful negotiated agreement that would ease fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 cult classic anti-war comedy was entitled Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The movie was about a demented person’s delusional effort to start a nuclear war.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, is determined to force a war between the United States and Iran. That war, given the volatile state of world politics and the current number of overlapping and interlocking conflicts, could, if there is a miscalculation by any of the combatants or their allies, result in a nuclear tragedy.
The Middle East, where most of the probable participants are located, is a place where suicide bombing is a weapon of choice. The phenomenon usually referred to as “mutually assured destruction” has so far been an effective deterrent to nuclear war. In most Middle Eastern countries it would not serve because the religious zealots who live there eagerly await the Apocalypse and have little apprehension about dying for reasons believed required by their religious beliefs.
For the past few years, the United States has been trying to dissuade the government of Iran from developing nuclear weapons. That effort has employed progressively serious economic sanctions coupled with both formal and informal negotiations.
In recent months, following Iran’s election of new and less bellicose government leadership, a team of negotiators led by our State Department has engaged in serious negotiations with representatives of Iran’s government concerning this issue. Those negotiations have now reached a crucial stage. According to published reports, there is some hope that Iran may, at last, agree to enforceable measures that will, at least, slow and postpone development of its nuclear capability and provide hope for verifiable steps insuring that it will not develop nuclear weapons.
A vital factor affecting the negotiations is the opinion of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Here is a link to an informative and somewhat hopeful article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists concerning this issue: Khamenei Like all negotiations, success depends on shared confidence that proposals are made in good faith; that if accepted, they would be adhered to.
The failure of this effort at peaceful settlement of these issues can, and probably will, have grave consequences for Iran, the United States and Israel. If Iran insists on a course that could lead to a nuclear attack on Israel, the United States will be forced into yet another Middle East war. As stated above, such a war would be dangerous and its outcome and long term consequences impossible to predict. The recent emergence of ISIS and various other similar military groups adds to the complexity and risks that will confront the United States if it becomes enmeshed in such a war.
Enter Dr. Strangelove
The United States confronts these dangerous possibilities because it is committed to safeguard the safety of Israel. Instead of supporting efforts to forestall a possible nuclear holocaust that could obliterate Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has joined factions of his supporters in opposing all efforts intended to achieve a peaceful settlement with Iran.
Some articles related to such efforts have equated them with Neville Chamberlain’s negotiations with the Nazis in the 1930’s, and equated Chamberlain with President Obama. History has labeled Chamberlain naive and branded him with his speech upon returning from Munich which featured the often quoted phrase, “Peace For Our Time”. [Usually misquoted as “Peace in our Time”]
According to Netanyahu, Iran cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement and, hence, negotiations are merely a ploy to buy time to build nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. The inevitable logic of this argument is that war between the United States and Iran is the only sensible solution. All indications that peaceful negotiations are succeeding evoke more intense and raucous efforts to sabotage them from Netanyahu. The sabotage tactics have now culminated in this unprecedented effort by a foreign elected leader openly to engage in political conflict with the elected leader of another sovereign nation.
Our Form of Government
Lest it be forgotten, we are governed by a Constitution. Article II describes the duties of the President. It states, in part, “He shall have power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties . . . .” This authority has been construed to give the President the authority to negotiate with other countries. The Supreme Court, in a 1936 decision sustaining the right of the President to impose an embargo on the export of arms, wrote, “The President is the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provision of the Constitution.” United States v. Curtis-Wright Export Corporation.
It is very plain that neither the House of Representatives nor Benjamin Netanyahu, as an elected leader of the State of Israel, should intrude like bulls in a china closet into the fragile and important negotiations between the United States and the nation of Iran. It is time for our government to send Netanyahu home with a message: Our President will respect your proper concern for the safety of your country, but we will not countenance your effort to dictate the policies we design in the interest of our country. Our obligation to Israel is to protect it from harm but the tactics and policies related to that matter must be and will be made and designed by us, based on our judgment and our system of government. Their design will not be and has not been delegated to you or your government.
There are two Jewish lobbyist groups in the United States. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, usually abbreviated AIPAC, generally supports and promotes Netanyahu’s policies. The other, Jewish Voice for Peace, operates as a grass roots political organization. Its membership is not limited to Jews. It supports, advises and furnishes information to elected officials generally identified as liberals. Its primary aim is to promote peace between Israel and Palestine based on security and fairness. Here is a link to an article written by a spokesperson for that organization concerning the issues discussed here: JVP