Some developments re the Iran war-drums.
On Tuesday, John Kerry told a dubious Senate committee that Congress should hold off on more sanctions on Iran, even as a warmongering Republican questioner said that we were appeasing the Nazis all over again. Here is a choice defensive moment from John Kerry’s testimony (boldface mine):
I do want to say one quick word about Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu. I speak to the Prime Minister usually a couple times a week or several times. I talked to him yesterday morning, and I am leaving tomorrow and I’ll be seeing him Thursday night. We are totally agreed that we need to focus on this final comprehensive agreement. And Yossi Cohen, the national security advisor to the Prime Minister, is here in Washington this week working with our experts. And we will work hand in hand closely, not just with Israel, but with our friends in the Gulf and others around the world.
I think Kerry is reflecting the political wisdom, Keep your friends close, but hold your enemies so tight they can’t even wiggle. (The same wisdom Obama expressed in his famous moment with Sarkozy. “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.”)
Next, in an excellent blogpost at The New York Times, Bill Keller says the neoconservatives are entrenched in Washington, and they are Israel-centric warmongers who don’t know the US national interest. Hardliners in Iran and the US, Keller writes,
[b]oth believe America’s role in the Middle East revolves in large measure around Israel. To the Iranian hard core, Israel is a nuclear-armed interloper and America’s conjoined infidel twin; to their American counterparts Israel’s values and interests are inextricable from our own, and Benjamin Netanyahu is a more trustworthy defender of our security than Barack Obama.
Hardliners in both countries are fighting a rearguard action in their own countries. In the U.S., the hawks fear they are losing sway to a conflict-averse president who has the support (at least on the issue of attacking Iran, if not on much else) of a war-weary public. In Iran the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard face the mounting frustration of a largely young, economically punished population – a volatile discontent that was expressed in the streets in 2009 and at the ballot box this year.
Yet in both countries, the hawks have disproportionate influence – in Washington, because no public figure wants to be seen as soft on Iran… [A] failure of negotiations would delight both of them – American hawks because Israel could get on with the business of bombing..
I wish Keller had had this epiphany before he pushed the Iraq war ten years ago. Also, it would be nice if Keller were a little more frank with his readers about why the hardliners have such purchase in D.C. MJ Rosenberg– who explained the Israel Firster argument a long time ago– says it’s about money.
The Israel Lobby has the media so intimidated that no one in the mainstream media has the nerve to tell the American people why Congress is likely to pass new Iran sanctions that would kill the Iran negotiations.
No one. By no one, I mean no one.
If all you knew about this subject came from the media (including the major bloggers except Andrew Sullivan), you would think that Members of Congress are worried that the Iran deal poses problems for US security.
Of course, that is ridiculous. Every single Member of Congress who expresses “concern” about the Iran deal is doing so to please AIPAC and its donors. Almost all get money from AIPAC and the rest want to.
Keller is uncomfortable with the fact that the Iranian discourse is filled with conspiracy theories about the US and Israel; but leaving aside the hateful invective of the Supreme Leader– like the twitter picture on left– isn’t there truth in the Iranian view (also held by many Arabs) that the lobby has a lot of Washington by the short-hairs?
Then there’s this. Avi Mayer, the Israeli-American new media spokesman for the Jewish Agency, seizes on neoconservative polling data to say:
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) December 11, 2013
Scott Roth leaped on this.
Here is some of the polling, from Frank Luntz:
“Finally, we have found an issue of substance that both Democrats and Republicans agree on. The fear of Iranian nuclear weapons unites just about everyone.”
That is the key result of a survey of 900 likely voters taken December 7-9, 2013 that asks what Americans think of negotiations between their government and Iran. For us, this is the first time this year that an issue of this signific ance generates almost universal support across the demographic and political landscape:
By lopsided margins, supporters of both political parties overwhelmingly favored renewed sanctions against the Iranian government, in addition to and regardless of current negotiations.
Younger Obama voters and older Romney voters BOTH want the American negotiators to insist on a non-nuclear Iran, and they want sanctions to remain until that objective [etc]...