Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thoughts on Bibi's Return and Its Ramifications

I ended up wanting to excerpt too much, so let me suggest that you read the whole thing as a jumping off point for analysis.  More off-the-cuff nonsense after the fold.

Netanyahu's since walked back his now-infamous and endlessly replayed "no Palestinian state" comment, but I need to see/hear the original statement, because I'm not sure if he meant "no Palestinian state ever as a point of my policy" or "no Palestinian state while I'm PM - i.e., right now and in the foreseeable future - because current conditions will not permit it" (is Krauthammer right? I am inclined to think that he is).

Meanwhile, Netanyahu Derangement Syndrome is still in full swing, with variations on demonization that have been both creative and banal, with additional riffs that flirt with both anti-Semitism and racism or - my personal favorite - try to present big bad Bibi beating up poor helpless Obama.  If I were a sociologist or a psychologist I would be fascinated and thinking of writing a paper.   

Besides, there's something deeply disturbing - nay, distressing - about seeing the Obama administration and its minions so openly hate and despise (and perhaps fear even as it heaps contempt on) the head of another democratic state and ally.  Who knew that this administration was into regime change after all?  Only it's regime change in an allied nation.  It's also like Obama can't get past his own personal animus and subjectivity in relating to Netanyahu.  OK, fine, he probably sees Bibi as a loud, dogged, recalcitrant, obnoxious, goal-blocking jerk trying to throw a wrench into his plans for a grand agreement with Iran.  The thought bubble probably reads something like: God, Netanyahu, you're so stupid.  Just shut up and go away.

And, yes, Bibi IS loud and dogged and recalcitrant.  For years he's been indefatigably hammering away at the same topic: the perils of Iran's nuclear ambitions.  It doesn't seem to matter if people brush him off or belittle him or accuse him of being Chicken Little.  At the UN repeatedly, in interviews, in Congress, wherever, whenever, he's tirelessly, relentlessly, yes, to some people, maddeningly insisting on talking about the unhappy topic.  Even more maddening to some, he keeps managing to do it with apparently unflagging energy and eloquence in the face of indifference or open hostility.   Oh, and lest we forget: these aren't academic questions or abstract matters for focus groups and pollsters.  Iran has spoken openly of the desire to annihilate Israel.  Israel would prefer not to be annihilated.

Meanwhile there's Obama's obsession with a deal with Iran.  Like the Holy Grail?  More like Ahab chasing his whale.  Do you seriously think that this is going to remake the Middle East in a positive way?  But that's another post for another day.  I'm tired, and I need to do laundry.

So now what?  Obama will lash out at Bibi or try to, anyway, though I dare say any attempt will enjoy the same amount of success as all of his other dealings with foreign policy.  Even if he succeeds in doing something, though, it would do absolutely nothing to improve statesmanship as a pursuit, US-Israeli relations, or conditions on the ground anywhere.  It might make things even worse, though I don't even want to speculate.  The crack-up in the US-Israeli alliance isn't entirely Obama's fault, though; Bibi had his own role to play.  But it was on Obama to be the statesman who could minimize the damage and turn a tiff into a reconciliation, and he didn't do it, hasn't done it.  It would have required too much generosity. 

If I were Russia, China, or Iran, I would be making popcorn and settling back to watch ... Wait, no, I would grab the chance to run off and get ahead on whatever schemes I had cooking, because the Obama camp seemingly making a bigger deal out of a Netanyahu electoral victory than an Iranian nuclear bomb is just too delicious a chance to pass up.  As Napoleon once advised, never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake.

All this is such a downer!  Here, have a cute kitty:

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