Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bibi in D.C.

Since when did John Boehner become Vice President In Charge of Foreign Affairs?
Boehner showed complete disregard and disrespect for President Obama when he invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress about the dangers of a nuclear deal with Iran, which he does today.  Boehner has no patience with Obama's - or the European Community's - efforts to stop Iran from getting the bomb, and he invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress in an effort to sabotage the White House's efforts at a deal.  Boehner is trying to inject himself into directing American foreign policy, which he feels should take a harder and more belligerent line - in other words, the typical right-wing Republican approach to dealing with other countries.         
Of course, Netanyahu has his own reasons for making this speech.  He's up for re-election on March 17, and he's hoping his own tough-guy attitude before the United States Congress will impress voters back home as the great protector of Israel.  None of this is likely to being a lasting peace to the Middle East.  What's worse that this breach of protocol Boehner and Netanyahu have engaged in has turned U.S.-Israel relations in to a partisan issue that makes it impossible to pursue Middle Eastern affairs with one voice and undermines the efforts to handle the threats in the region.  Which is why so many Democratic lawmakers have chosen to boycott the speech . . . which suits Republicans who hope to politicize the issue against the Democrats just fine.  Meanwhile, Republicans - and some Democrats (including my senator, Robert Menendez) are calling for more sanctions against Iran, which will be unpopular with European allies who aren't wiling to push that envelope that farther.  I understand that increased sanctions are more popular in a country whose diplomats and Marines were taken hostage in Tehran than they are elsewhere, but Khomeini is dead, Iranian President Rouhani wants a new relationship with the U.S. - especially with regard to combating the Islamic State - and so we should be pursuing policies that will lead to peace rather than continue rattling our sabers.      
As for the Netanyahu speech, let's hope it comes and goes without ruffling more feathers than it already has. 

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