The view that Obama has washed his hands of the hopeless peace process in order to use all his political capital to head off a war with Iran was underscored by his State of the Union speech last night. There was one line about John Kerry’s peace process, which Obama lately handicapped at under 50 percent likelihood of success (and that the most official journalist there is describes as a “fanatical” fantasy today). And then a couple paragraphs of logrolling the Congress on his Iran deal, warning the Congress that he’d veto another round of sanctions. Some of his most forceful language in the speech warned Congress about undermining US “national security” by hurting the deal.
Though Obama did lip service to the newly-stated basis of Kerry’s talks, Israel’s recognition as the “Jewish state.”
From the transcript:
As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.
And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.
The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.
When Obama said, “For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” he was pointing right at the Israel lobby. “AIPAC is terrified at the suggestion that it places Israel’s security over America’s,” MJ Rosenberg commented on the speech.
Note that yesterday, in a big win for Obama, the Israel lobby group reversed field and gave Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, political cover to support the Iran deal. Support for a new round of sanctions is surely flagging in the Congress.AIPAC is clearly feeling the heat, when liberal Zionists Lara Friedman, Melissa Weintraub, and Peter Beinart all but accuse the lobby of fueling suspicions of dual loyalty among American Jews.
And were other viewers as disturbed as I was by the display of the maimed young Army ranger Cory Remsburg last night alongside his father and Michelle Obama, capping Obama’s State of the Union speech? I found it horrifying. A beautiful young man disfigured by pointless war– this is nothing to be proud of. Remsburg’s injuries are a symbol of the injuries to the country dealt by these military adventures. We should lower our heads in shame for what we have done (and yes, I supported the Afghan invasion; I fault myself).