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Hagel tells Goldberg: Netanyahu threats brought Iran to the table

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 32 Comments

Maariv headline reads “American Defense Secretary: Netanyahu’s Threats Brought Iran to the Peace Table.”

Wanting to see if any US official would have the nuts to back up a widely-publicized statement by John Kerry in favor of negotiations with Iran, which has been widely perceived as criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bloomberg reporter and frequent Israel apologist, Jeffrey Goldberg got an interview with Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Hagel, as can be imagined, would not directly criticize the Israeli head of state, however, his statement that “I think that Iran is responding to the constant pressure from Israel, knowing that Israel believes them to be an existential threat,” may be considered a surprising compliment for Netanyahu, who seems intent on subverting any détente between Washington and Teheran.

In a talk at the Ploughshares Fund, Kerry made this statement which Goldberg characterizes as a “brushback pitch”:

Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with even putting that to the test. I suggest that the idea that the United States of America as a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore that possibility [peace negotiations with Iran] would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.

Hagel, after being humiliated in his Senate confirmation hearings because of previous mild criticism of Israel, assured his Senate adversaries that as Secretary of Defense he would be as pro-Israel as the Israel lobby desires.  If Goldberg’s interview is any indication, Hagel has more than fulfilled that promise.

In response to Goldberg’s direct question, Hagel denied that Netanyahu was hindering the nuclear negotiations despite the constant Israeli military threats and warnings about Iranian plots to deceive the West.  According to Goldberg:

Hagel made sure to absolve Netanyahu of the charge that he’s intent on subverting the nuclear talks. ‘I don’t think he’s intentionally trying to derail negotiations,’ he said.

Hagel also prominently mentioned the U.S. and UN sanctions as an important factor in leading to a more conciliatory Iranian position at the nuclear talks.

The Israeli threat may have been a factor in Iran’s apparent increased willingness to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program, although this is hardly a given.  However, at this stage it will be more difficult for the Obama administration to gain Iranian confidence while Netanyahu continues to threaten to attack that country’s nuclear facilities and a top US official praises the Israeli bellicosity.

Immediately, smelling blood in the water, the Israeli right-wing daily Ma’ariv published a front page headline which read, “American Defense Secretary:  Netanyahu’s Threats Brought Iran to the Peace Table.”

Did Goldberg set Hagel up?  I think Goldberg knew that Hagel would back off the Kerry statement, but could not have known that he would turn Bibi boaster.  The unexpected Ma’ariv headline will just assure Israelis that the tactics of their Prime Minister are welcome by the Americans.

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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32 Responses

  1. OlegR
    November 5, 2013, 11:05 am

    Probably because they are.
    Good cop bad cop.

  2. W.Jones
    November 5, 2013, 11:06 am

    Is Hagel’s statement saying that the negotiations are good, then?

    Person C tells a story: Person A threatens Person B, so Person B agrees to negotiate.

    Doesn’t this mean Person C is favoring both threats and negotiations?
    Namely, threats are good in this case, because they lead to negotiations?

    • Bumblebye
      November 5, 2013, 2:46 pm

      I wonder how ‘clever’ Hagel’s compliment may be. Despite his constant warmongering, Bibi can steal a measure of any credit if/when an agreement is reached, even if it’s not as much (or any where near) what he demands. Going to the, ahem, nuts of the matter (cheers, Ira!), an attempt to neuter the ever present neocons?

    • ritzl
      November 5, 2013, 3:25 pm

      It’s a commonly used fallacy of argument, used to imply causation. Particularly common and ultimately accepted in politics (and political journalism?).

      Post hoc ergo propter hoc:

      • ritzl
        November 5, 2013, 3:37 pm

        The book “Freakonomics” is based on debunking this particular strain of political convenience. I don’t agree with all the examples, but it makes its case pretty effectively. Enough so to highlight the well-used phenom. FWIW.

      • W.Jones
        November 7, 2013, 12:09 am

        Sure, I see what you mean about faulty reasoning.
        It could also reason that: Hitler was “appeased” by Chamberlain and Hitler invaded Poland, therefore appeasement never works.

        So therefore appeasement would fail if the US tried it with anybody anywhere, like Iraq. Therefore, the US had to invade Iraq.


  3. Justpassingby
    November 5, 2013, 11:14 am

    Palestinian threats will bring Israel to the table?

  4. hass
    November 5, 2013, 11:19 am

    The claim that Iran has shown “new” interest in negotiation is a false meme and is based on the assumption that Iran was the problem all along, when in fact it was the US and the US demand that Iran first abandon enrichment before engaging in negotiations.

    Iran has been offering significant compromises for many many years, and all of its efforts were either ignored or deliberately undermined by the US (last example was the torpedoing of the Brazil/Turkey brokered deal to ship out its enriched uranium, which was killed by Obama AFTER Iran agreed, by adding the demand that Iran also had to abandon its sovereign right to enrich uranium — a last minute poison pill which was deliberately intended to scuttle the deal.) Even IAEA director Elbaradei concluded that the West was “not interested in compromise but regime change by any means necessary.”

    In fact Ahmadinejad himself went before the United Nations General Assembly and repeated Iran’s offer to cease 20% enrichment in exchange for simply being allowed to buy the reactor fuel that Iran had been denied — reactor fuel, incidentally, for a reactor that poses absolutely no weapons proliferation threat in the first place, was given by the US to Iran, and is necessary to treat Iran’s 800,000 cancer patients.

    In fact, considering that this reactor is far too small to be able to make enough fissile material for a bomb, nevermind that it is constantly monitored, why was Iran denied its right to fuel it? And what did that accomplish except that it justified Iran’s decision to raise enrichment levels, and acquire a stockpile of 20% enriched uranium and a technical ability that the US has to now try to negotiate back down.

    And nobody asks how that came to be.

    • HarryLaw
      November 5, 2013, 1:12 pm

      I agree completely with you hass, the US will not take yes for an answer, Iran’s growing conventional weapons pose a threat to Israeli hegemony, unfortunately Israel/US simply will not abide by International law, for instance not to threaten another UN member state in breach of the UN charter, these threats of military action appear almost on a daily basis, my advice to the Iranians is, build up your military and negotiate in good faith, although I guarantee Israel/US will not, because in my opinion this is not about nuclear weapons but as Elbaradei said regime change.

      • ToivoS
        November 5, 2013, 6:18 pm

        Iran’s growing conventional weapons pose a threat to Israeli hegemony

        More directly Iran’s conventional weapons pose a serious threat to US warships in the Persian Gulf. I think that is one of the major reasons that the US military has opposed war with Iran since, at least, 2006.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 5, 2013, 7:12 pm

        I think the bigger reason is that the CIA in effect said that attacking Iran would be illegal (given NIE on Iran). Dick Cheney and his gang of warmongers did want the US to attack Iran.

      • ToivoS
        November 5, 2013, 8:20 pm

        I think the bigger reason is that the CIA in effect said that attacking Iran would be illegal

        Egad don’t be naive, the US is not deterred by the illegality of its wars. It does what it wants. In the case of Iran right now the US does not want to go to war. There are a variety of reasons.

        We have the ability to destroy their airforce and navy, flatten every military base and probably most of the civilian infrastructure. However, we can’t win even if we had a million man army to send in. Occupying Iran would require more than that.

        We would lose ships in the Persian Gulf. Maybe most of them. If that were to happen the rules of power politics would change over night — our aircraft carrier task forces would look vulnerable and less likely to intimidate potential enemies into submission.

        The Iranians would close the Straits of Hormuz and sink any mine sweeper that tried to interfere. That would shock the world economy to its foundations.

        Those are the reasons the intelligence branches wrote that NIE to discourage our leaders from even thinking about going to war with Iran.

      • Sycamores
        November 6, 2013, 12:57 pm

        the US foreign policy is to create and feed a protracted war in the oil rich Middle East. this is the only reason now why israel is a useful pawn for the US and allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain) to distract the world from its genocidal efforts to control the flow of oil.

        in 2011, a $10 billion Pipelineistan deal was clinched between Iran, Iraq and Syria for a natural gas pipeline to be built by 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field, traversing Iraq and Syria, with a possible extension to Lebanon. Key export target market: Europe. later that same year the outbreak of the Syrian ‘civil’ war.

        what about the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline Key export target market: India and then China.

        the US is already threatening sanctions if Pakistan proceeds not to mention the continous drones attacks helping to destablizing the country.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 6, 2013, 4:04 pm

        US spends $1 billion per day, importing oil. You think the US actually wants higher oil prices?

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 6, 2013, 4:50 pm

        @ToivoS – – Are you forgetting the effort put into the preparation of a dishonest NIE on Iraq in 2002? And the effort by Tony Blair to deceive the British Parliament, by the same means?

        I think an Iranian failure to make a deal with P5+1, of any sort whatever, would mean more sanctions, and if Iranian enrichment etc continued, a blockade would be imposed.

        Perhaps Iran would bring catastrophe on itself by attacking blockading ships etc etc.

        I would not expect Obama to be so foolish as to attempt an occupation of Iran. Would be insane.

      • Shingo
        November 5, 2013, 6:57 pm

        I agree completely with you hass, the US will not take yes for an answer,

        Even worse, they regard yes for an answer as being a threat and act of hostility. When Iran accepted the swap offer, the French representative described it as a disturbing development.

        That’s the kind fo insanity and diplomatic irrationality the Iranians have to deal with.

        Iran’s growing conventional weapons pose a threat to Israeli hegemony

        It’s not weapons so much as the fact that Iran is the most obvious regional hegemon. It is large, has huge resources, very strategically and geographically positioned and has a well educated population.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 6, 2013, 4:58 pm

        The proposed nuclear fuel exchange with Iran was wrecked in part because Iran started to enrich uranium to 20%.

        Iran, of course, in effect was forced (by the US) to commence enriching U to 20%.

        The Greens (“reformers”) in Iran opposed the deal too.

    • Shingo
      November 5, 2013, 6:52 pm

      Good points Hass,

      In fact, Iran sopped enrichment altogether for over 2 years, and still the US refused to negotiate with them. The compromises Iran is and has been willing to make are over and above the obligations under the NPT and Nuclear Safeguards Agreement. They are within their rights to keep doing what they are doing and not budge one inch.

      And seriously, has anyone stopped to ask why it is that Iran has to placate the US anyway? Why are we not hearing anything from the other members of the P5+1 other than to admit this is all about what the US wants?

      What greater admission that this whole issue is about US unilateral foreign policy and that the UNSC Resolutions were entirely orchestrated by the US.

      orpedoing of the Brazil/Turkey brokered deal to ship out its enriched uranium, which was killed by Obama AFTER Iran agreed

      It’s worse than that Hass. Brazil were so angered by Obama that they released a letter from Obama that asked them to broker the deal in the first place, which exposed Obama’s duplicity.

      In fact, considering that this reactor is far too small to be able to make enough fissile material for a bomb, nevermind that it is constantly monitored, why was Iran denied its right to fuel it?

      The US blocked the sale of fuel because they thought they had Iran on the ropes. White House spokesman said that they didn’t believe Iran could enrich to 20%, so they thought they had Iran on their knees. So Iran went and enriched to 20% and then Washington and Israel turn around and accuse Iran of enriching to 20% and insisting there was no other reason for doing so apart from pursuing nukes.

      • ritzl
        November 5, 2013, 7:38 pm

        @Shingo Yeah, the release of that letter showed that the US didn’t expect success. Success that was so readily attainable through straightforward, brief, good faith negotiations.

        One has to wonder about that blind spot, most in terms of the chances of success and/or the application of good faith.

        One has to wonder much less about why that blind spot (if it is even that) exists in the first place.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 6, 2013, 4:56 pm

        Dick Cheney and his gang of warmongers WANTED a US war with Iran, and thus the Iranian offer was dumped into the rubbish bin. And a moron occupied the White House, sadly. ( G W Bush)

  5. seafoid
    November 5, 2013, 11:23 am

    Maariv readers believe the world revolves around them as Jews living in Shangri la. They have been taught this since an early age , at least since they were able to read and G-d knows they can’t read much. It is of course natural that a mere goy such as Hagel would prostrate himself before the representative of G-d on earth, Netanyahu.

    Thank G-d they live in a parallel mental universe.

    • yrn
      November 5, 2013, 1:12 pm

      So why dose all your comrades in Mondowiess take Maariv as a resource and evidence, when it fits their cause and Agenda.
      Not limits to Hypcricy

      • seafoid
        November 5, 2013, 4:17 pm

        Hypicricy was the tragic Greek hero from the play where he thought Sparta should spent all the money on swords and not schools.

  6. LeaNder
    November 5, 2013, 12:16 pm

    thanks, Ira, I asked myself the same question yesterday.

    Around the same time, by the way, the topic of academic censorship here on MW reminded me of the “scandal” about Berlin’s center for the study of antisemitism triggered via the Jerusalem Post, which I have not followed closely after, mainly since I am slightly hesitant about my co-German partly “academic conspiracy mongers” over here that fed the scandal at the time.

    Seems I have to take a closer look now. Since I discovered that quite possibly the best substitute for the then attacked head of the institute, may well have been this ” light” of academia.

    Apparently this did not work out well, but in any case (Jewish?) “academic Heni” now heads the alternative BICSA
    The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism
    seemingly fighting Jewish dissent on German ground. I guess Benz was already asked to resign in 2008. Henri challenges “non-academics” in the field of “new antisemitism”

    Why did I add this: (Jewish)?

    ‘German center ignores Iranian threat’

    Benz, a historian who has served as the first non-Jewish director of the institute since 1990, works with a staff of roughly 30 to study the Nazi period and the Holocaust.

    Thanks too, for the link to the “balanced review” in the NY Observer of Max’ Goliath. Absolutely interesting. Now doubt. Enforcing consent by data nickpicking? On the other hand what am I doing?

  7. Shingo
    November 5, 2013, 3:35 pm

    It’s interesting how Hagel said he doesn’t think Bibbi is intentionally trying to derail the talks, which suggests he is indeed doing so.

    The fact is that Bibbi himself admitted he was going to Washington to spoil the part.

  8. James Canning
    James Canning
    November 5, 2013, 3:53 pm

    I suspect Hagel is well aware that Netanyahu is trying to block any deal between Iran and the P5+1. And that Netnayhu’s purpose is to enable further growth of illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank.

    • Shingo
      November 5, 2013, 4:11 pm

      Yes I suspect this statement was just a face saving comment for Netenyahu, because the fact is that Netenyahu has become irrelevant.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        November 5, 2013, 4:27 pm

        I think Hagel will have suggested that Netanyahu urge some of his more rabid rich American Jewish pals, to lower their level of agitation about a potential deal with Iran.

  9. James Canning
    James Canning
    November 5, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Could Hagel be affording Netanyahu cover, for toning down N’s opposition to any deal with Iran?

  10. ToivoS
    November 5, 2013, 6:27 pm

    Any half conscious observer knows that the big change in the last 2 years has been with the US’s willingness to negotiate — Iran’s stance has not perceptively changed since 2002.

    The Obama admin has to spin this story that our threats and sanctions has forced Iran to the table otherwise they would have to admit that they made a mistake in 2010. Politically, Hagel is just saying this nonsense to smooth the political path towards a successful outcome in these negotiations. If he feels they have to do so to get there then I say more power to him — the goal of peace is certainly worth the price of a few hypocritical utterances.

    The important thing is that we should realize that the Obama admin is moving towards a real negotiated settlement with Iran. We shouldn’t let our pessimism lead us to ignore that. I have said before, that the process was going to be ugly and there will be many craven efforts by US officials kowtowing to Israel in this process.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      November 5, 2013, 7:10 pm

      @ToivoS – – I agree Obama could have made a deal with Iran a few years ago. Dennis Ross vetoed any deal at that time, it would appear.

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