Senate adopts Netanyahu’s red-line over Obama’s, 90-1

Missed this. Remember how Obama stared Netanyahu down over getting involved in our election, and even Barbara Boxer said, Bug out? Well, one of the Senate’s last acts Friday before recess was: voting 90-1 on a nonbinding resolution to support any action against Iran lest it obtain nuclear “capability,” the AIPAC-and-Netanyahu red line. Reuters:

The only senator to vote against the resolution was Republican Rand Paul, a Tea Party and libertarian favorite, who argued that it was a de-facto declaration of war.


The “capability” debate was initially framed as one over “containment” in February, and hawks like [Lindsey] Graham found little bipartisan support until their position became a centerpiece of the AIPAC policy conference in March. But the initial resolution from Graham in May stalled. Then things rose into the national consciousness.

This month, an unprecedented campaign by Benjamin Netanyahu to get Obama to shift his Iran red line drew jeers from liberals and even Members of Congress. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) upbraided Netanyahu for interjecting himself in American politics. AIPAC took notice, e-mailing its members last week with articles on Obama’s refusal to lower his threshold for war and Netanyahu’s denials of interference. The debate seemed, for now, over, with Obama victorious. Then this week, Majority Leader Reid surprised everyone by re-introducing the Graham resolution.

Sullivan calls it a “motion to back a foreign prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, over the president of the US.”

AIPAC does its work with unremitting diligence. I favor containment as the least worst option. But that obvious position is held by no-one in power in Washington. Including Obama.

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Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 21 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    The one NO vote was Rand Paul’s; he said it was a de facto declaration of war, or at absolute minimum, an excuse for war. It did not even make the nightly news for Dick and Jane. Also, Joe Lieberman joined Graham in introducing the resolution originally.
    It was the least Joe could do for Israel before he departs the senate to play around as a freelance Israel Firster pundit and consultant for the think tanks and press. He played coy today for mainstream TV news as to whom he was going to vote for….

    • lysias says:

      Roll call is here. Read it and weep.

      9 not voting: Boozman, Boxer, Burr, Heller, Inhofe, Kirk, Murray, Rubio, Vitter.

      I wonder how many of these failed to vote out of conviction. (We know Kirk’s vote is in the bag for AIPAC, so his omission is no doubt due to continuing health problems from his stroke.)

  2. Woody Tanaka says:

    Yeah, the zios pulled the strings in the Senate. What else is knew.

  3. ColinWright says:

    One bright spot:

    “…The only senator to vote against the resolution was Republican Rand Paul, a Tea Party and libertarian favorite, who argued that it was a de-facto declaration of war…”

    This isn’t an endorsement of Rand Paul: I’m not especially conversant with his exact views, and as long as it remains a moot point, don’t intend to change that.

    However, he is a hopeful for 2016, and it’s nice that there’s a prospect of at least one candidate with some discernible principles being in the field. Get us two — one on each side — and we can have an actual election.

    Obviously, it’s still too far out there to predict the field, but as far as the Republicans go, Huckabee is a big Israel-lover — and has a real constituency as a social conservative. The Republican primaries could be interesting at any rate.

    It’d be nice if the Democrats come up with someone interesting. Worst case: Huckabee gets the Republican nomination and wipes the floor with Biden.

  4. radii says:

    ugh, this is so humiliating for anyone who truly supports America to have to slavishly kow-tow to israel in this way … israel engenders no good will compelling this behavior from our elected officials

  5. MRW says:

    nonbinding resolution. Right. Just as they adjourn congress for the year.

    Sullivan calls it a “motion to back a foreign prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, over the president of the US.”

    Rank racism on top of it. A Darkie in the White House.

  6. bobsmith says:

    This is a declaration of war. Martin Indyk seems to think it’s coming.

    • Citizen says:

      @ bobsmith
      So, it appears, do the Iranians: link to

    • it is an authorization to go to war similar to action congress took for invading iraq. the war powers act demands the president go to congress for approval to go to war and this suffices.

      it means, should romney be elected (or win the presidency like bush did, thru fraud which i believe is increasingly likely) authorization from congress is there ready and waiting. all systems go.

      edit, just saw denis’s comment downthread.

      here’s paul pillar link to

      Congressional statements such as this midnight resolution have a parallel from prior to the Iraq War: the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Although most of the members who voted for that legislation and the president (Bill Clinton) who signed it may have had no intention of facilitating a war, it became a benchmark that promoters of the war repeatedly referred to as a bipartisan statement that regime change in Iraq was the policy of the United States.

  7. Kathleen says:

    No surprise. Bending over to Israel has become normal behavior for U.S. Senators.

  8. Denis says:

    Calm down, everyone. Please calm down. Deep breaths, all around.

    First: Obama has no red line. Read his lips. Then read Hillary’s lips. “We don’t do red lines.” In fact, Bibi has no red line either. That’s the whole point of the Bibi-’Bama bust-up. So if ‘Bama has no red line and Bibi has no red line, how can this resolution favor Bibi’s over ‘Bama’s? This is a rhetorical question with metaphysical under-tones.

    Second: Please read the resolution. link to

    It has been dramatically misstated here. It does not “support any action against Iran lest it obtain nuclear ‘capability’”. It says, in pertinent part, that Congress:

    “strongly supports United States policy to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability”

    Strongly supporting US policy and supporting “any action against Iran” are light years apart in diplomatic lingo. The former is a statement supporting the President, the latter is tantamount to a declaration of war, which brings us to . . .

    Third: The resolution makes clear that it is not a declaration of war, as someone has said and as the hype implies. The resolution says:

    “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.”

    Fourth: This lop-sided vote is not the result of (just) AIPAC efforts. It is the result of WH efforts. It is not possible to get every single voting Democrat to vote for any bill without WH approval. It is not possible any time on any issue, much less in an election year on diplomatic issues.

    Fifth: As I have noted in response to another recent MW post on red lines, the nuclear non-proliferation experts over at Arms Control Wonk have pretty well established that Iran is already at the break-out point. So if that’s what the Senate means by “nuclear weapons capability,” they have just closed the barn door behind the run-away Iranian nuclear donkey, making asses out of themselves.

    Please, let’s not exacerbate the situation by reading into it that which is not there. There are enough asses chasing that donkey already.

    • Citizen says:

      @ So, you say, what was the point of that resolution? The Senate was bored?

    • LeaNder says:

      I’d appreciate the exact name and date of the bill, your link does not work.

      Besides you should read this: “The Easy Road to War with Iran” by Dr. Christopher Bolan

      And take a careful look at the larger recent propaganda onslaught dressed up partly as post-Israeli-attack-fiction in the WaPo’s opinion space of Sep. 21, Boland links to only one a several articles devoted to the issue in his article above, if I remember correctly.

      This can be hardly rated as a support of Obama, maybe if you are suggesting that he has been double dealing all the time? Or do you mean it is simply another election maneuver? Obama trying to steal Romney’s main talking point?

      If Israel attacks Iran and the Iranians are stupid enough to retaliate either against Israel or against American forces, Obama has no choice but to act. That is a US political reality. Pretty much the same happens if the Iranians do not read this bill as benevolently as you suggest, and allow themselves to be pushed into a stupid act, anything that can be read as aggression, or via disinformation constructed that way. There obviously are preparations on the US side too, so it feels this only makes the situation more volatile. Personally, I find the sanctions, to select just one of recent Israeli/US? activities, an act of aggression. But obviously the US is the stronger side.

      This may all be games, but at one point Netanayhu has to walk the talk. Maybe someone, Shmuel?; can inform us on the larger political and party context in Israel, and to what extend Bibi’s maneuvers could be premature election bouhaha. Whenever I start looking at Israeli party scene, including a new one looking for financial sponsors, that seems to move into the right direction, I can’t help but think of the Weimar Republic. Do you doubt Netanayhu can sell this as a victory? He again moved the US to where he wants them? Could it be Netanayhu tries to hide his weaknesses with war talk?

      • Shmuel says:


        As others here have pointed out (Walid comes to mind), this really isn’t about Iran, and the chances of Israel actually starting a war with Iran are close to nil. Neither the Israelis nor the Iranians are that stupid. It has far more to do with the Palestinians, the US, Europe, Hamas, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, etc. – and internal Israeli politics. Sadly, I think that Netanyahu has been playing the whole thing brilliantly.

        • LeaNder says:

          He seems to have played other things too brilliantly for my taste too, like circumnavigate problems in his coalition, early elections; but I am simply missing basics in this context. Yesterday I tried to get an impression of the larger party scene, pretty hard admittedly. Didn’t you once mention Shelly Yachimovich, the leader of the new labor split off, quite some time ago? Do I completely mix up matters, or do you think she isn’t that far out on the issue either?

          Who is this actor, media man, or journalist who intends to found a new party, I forget his name. I gave up yesterday trying understand, but I had the impression his platform moves into the right direction. Maybe I should read a book on the basics over the decades. But I honestly would appreciate a short background article about the political/party scene and basics on the diverse coalition troubles and maneuvers behind this constant war talk. That is what exactly happens inside Israel considering this war talk?

          Wasn’t Gaza/Cast Lead somehow an election issue too?

        • Shmuel says:

          Netanyahu’s election-avoiding gambit with Mofaz was a good one, but it got screwed up by the draft-for-haredim crisis, which he seems to have played as well as he could. The thing about the Iran hype is that he’s outflanked everyone. I haven’t heard Yachimovich on the subject, but it would be suicide for her to challenge the “common wisdom” in any serious way.

          The “media guy” is Yair Lapid, and he’s just a populistic pretty face. If the people want to hear the Holocaust/war drums on Iran, he’s only too happy to oblige.

          I’ll keep my eyes open for any good articles on the current (dismal) political situation in Israel.

          Cast Lead was most definitely an election issue, but one in which the political benefits of actual military action (viz. war crimes) outweighed the costs – which is why everyone wanted in. On Iran, everyone wants in on the blather, but no one (not even Netanyahu) would risk real action. The game seems to be speak loudly and pretend you’ve got a stick. All the genocide nonsense exposed by Alison in a recent post at MW is thus most welcome in TA (where Stanton decided to give his talk). Ditto “red lines” in Washington – whether they have any practical significance or not.

    • Denis says:

      here’s a link to a .pdf version of the Resolution on GPO. The information you are looking for is there.

      link to

      You’ll have to help me out w/ the Bolan piece you link to, I don’t see the connection. I was commenting on the fact that the Senate Joint Resolution has been misrepresented in the present article. Where’s the connection to Bolan’s piece on war games?

      • LeaNder says:

        I don’t see the connection.

        Look, I am aware; I am sometimes meander off into obscure, ill proofread mediations in bad English and in other contexts am too curt. I also realize that here I may have surrendered, from your perspective, to alarmist assessments, but that’s human. Isn’t it?

        Fact is, I already dislike the first paragraph of the bill. But thanks anyway. Is this language really necessary? Where do you think it is intended to lead?

        I read Jim Lobe ‘s article that surfaced here lately as a warning sign. Can we really rely on the fact that people on the trigger ever learn? Considering they don’t seem to have to pay for their mistakes? To what extend has Obama, let alone Romney, who has already surrendered, the power to confront the makes of public opinion? So why shouldn’t it be legitimate to look at the designers of public opinion in this context? Isn’t that context the same that produced the bill?

        Now, take a look at this peculiar fiction, Pat Lang calls it Soft Core propaganda on Iran.

        The one article Christopher Bolan choose, may well be the best, or most informative of all, but even that ultimately is about anonymous influence paddlers. The rest or the frame, is pure fiction, all of it? Not completely. Why this combination?:

        If Israel bombed Iran, what would life in Tel Aviv be like? This may well be the ultimate information or disinformation that needed a fictional or semi-scholar frame. The question would be: is there really an agreement on an attack on Iran as this guy suggests inside Israel now? On first sight the author is American. Have all the former antagonist of the Iran war policy of Netanayhu in Israel recanted and surrendered to pure necessity lately?

        Notice the image of Obama, you only need to read the first two paragraphs to get an impression:

        What if Israel bombed Iran? The view from Washington.

        The same day in the WaPo, “The Day After, notice, nothing bad happened to “Hamid”, or to anyone else on the scene. (incidentally Hamid, is the name of a good friend, an Iranian painter):

        Azadeh Moaveni, What if Israel bombed Iran? The view from Tehran.

        All this reminds me of Karl Kraus fight against the aesthetic rendering of war by journalists leading up to WWI. To what extend did they produce the huge enthusiasm all over Europe, we learned about? I ask myself lately…

        This makes me sick, and yes it is the same context that produced the bill, with one abstention. You don’t want to know what this 99% or close to reminds me of, do you? And no, I have no time to proofread, otherwise I have to repair every single link.

  9. Disgusting that the Lobby would demonstrate its power this way. Disgusting that the Senate would follow the tug on its nose ring in this way. Disgusting that the news media doesn’t dissect this supplication of our Congress to a foreign power. Disgusting that no candidate for Congress dare campaign on independence from the Lobby, the one cause that might start to elevate our Congress from its pathetic state of corruption.