Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that President Obama set a precise “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear program, meaning a commitment to go to war even if Iran is not actually building a nuclear weapon. Ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar sees a possible turning point in the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

By Paul R. Pillar

Maybe this time the Israeli prime minister has gone too far in his bullying and arrogance in dealing with the United States of America, so far as to undermine the habits and attitudes in the United States that have made such swagger possible in the first place.

“This time” can refer to Benjamin Netanyahu’s attention-getting outburstthis week in which he criticized the Obama administration’s posture regarding Iran’s nuclear program, demanding that the United States impose a clear “red line” and declaring that those who do not impose such lines “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The harshness of Netanyahu’s blast took aback even some American politicians accustomed to falling in line in the customary way on matters related to Israel. Sen.  Barbara Boxer of California said in a letter to Netanyahu, as “one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress,” that she was “stunned” by Netanyahu’s remarks.

Boxer is a Democrat who no doubt was also trying to soften any political impact of this latest indication of ill will between the Israeli prime minister and the U.S. president. But her response was still one indication of how far Netanyahu had gone beyond the bounds of what supposedly is a relationship between friends and allies.

“This time” also could refer more generally to the whole warpath-blazing campaign of agitation about the Iranian nuclear program. That campaign clearly is mainly an Israeli thing, and especially a project of Netanyahu and his rightist government.

Historians decades from now will be trying to explain how the superpower of the day allowed itself to get so preoccupied with a still-nonexistent weapon in the hands of a second-rate power that, even if the weapon came into existence, could not pose a threat to U.S. interests anywhere near what the preoccupation implies.

Israel, with its longstanding and sizable nuclear arsenal of its own as well as its conventional regional military superiority, also does not face a threat that warrants all the agitation and warmongering.

Maybe preventing the mere possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon would mean Israeli leaders would think only once and not twice before the next time they throw their weight and armed might around in Gaza or Lebanon or someplace else. And the drum-beating about Iran does divert attention away from that pesky matter involving political rights and self-determination for Palestinians.

Perhaps there is seeping into the consciousness of more and more informed Americans the realization that Netanyahu, with his drum-beating, his complete rejection (in defiance of the policies of the United States and other Western powers) of the very idea of negotiations with the Iranians, and his demand for red lines, is trying to lead America by the nose into a war that would be profoundly against U.S. interests.

And it would be a war fought primarily to maintain Israel’s regional nuclear weapons monopoly and, also not in U.S. interests, untrammeled ability to throw its weight around. Even for those attuned less to specific calculations about U.S. interests and more to general concepts of right and wrong, Netanyahu has provided much to offend.

A military attack launched to damage or destroy somebody else’s nuclear program, launched, no less, by a state that long has had nuclear weapons completely outside any international monitoring or control regime, would be an act of aggression clearly in violation of international law.

The infliction of casualties involved, inflicted to maintain the aggressor’s nuclear weapons monopoly, would be an immoral act. And yet Netanyahu says those who may object to any of this “don’t have a moral right” to do so. Incredible.

The prime minister’s behavior can be interpreted in multiple ways. His latest tantrum may be part of his effort to sink the re-election chances of the incumbent U.S. president, in favor of an alternative who would be beholden to interests whose primary affinity is to the Israeli right, by accentuating Barack Obama’s supposed inability to get along with Israel. This is probably at least part of the explanation for the behavior.

Some have questioned Netanyahu’s stability and temperament, in ways that go beyond merely having a short temper. Some Israeli commentators have spoken most recently in terms of Netanyahu “going berserk” or being a “mythomaniac” guided by a sense of heroic mission.

Given all we have heard, in connection with Iran’s nuclear program, about the hazards of irrational or fanatic people with their fingers on the button, perhaps we should ask about Netanyahu: is this a man who can be trusted with nuclear weapons?

Even assuming rationality on the prime minister’s part, there probably is an emotional element involved in his recent outburst in the sense of someone used to getting his way being flummoxed by even the slightest push-back. Netanyahu probably has been conditioned, through such experiences as speaking to Congress with a gallery stacked with AIPAC supporters, to believe that the bullying will always work.

Even sensible and mild push-back, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement that the United States is not going to set deadlines on the Iranian nuclear issue, then becomes disturbing to him.

Netanyahu also may have been reacting to increased acceptance in mainstream discourse in the United States of the concept that an Iranian nuclear weapon would not be the calamity he insistently portrays it as and that trying to preclude one would certainly would not be worth starting a new war.

Going beyond the Iranian nuclear issue, perhaps we are seeing some fear that the whole political edifice that has enabled Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers to get their way in the United States is showing some cracks. It ought to crack. After all, the overall nature of the relationship, in which the superpower that lavishes billions of aid and dozens of United Nations vetoes on the smaller state gets pushed around by the latter, rather than the other way around, is crazy and illogical.

Ultimately the power of the edifice depends on fear of confronting that power. Theoretically to break down that edifice it would take one courageous American political leader, in a bold FDR-like move, to point out that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

That is not about to happen, and the lobby in question will fight hard to make sure it does not happen. But over the last few years some cracks have become visible. Some people thought they saw a crack at the Democratic National Convention when repeated voice votes were required to override the “noes” that opposed the platform plank about declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Maybe Netanyahu’s arrogance, greater than the norm even for Israeli prime ministers dealing with the United States, may be a force that eventually reshapes the relationship. It can do so by making it painfully clear to Americans what they are dealing with.

M. J. Rosenberg evidently is talking about this when he goes so far as to say that Netanyahu “poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.” He is referring to the damage being done to the relations with the superpower patron, that “all Netanyahu is accomplishing with his ugly saber-rattling is threatening the survival of the US-Israel relationship.”

That may well be the effect of Netanyahu’s behavior on the relationship, but perhaps we should not speak of this in terms of threats. Replacing the current pathological relationship with a more normal one certainly would be good for U.S. interests.

Ultimately, however, it also would be good for the interests of Israel, which, in order to get off its current path of endless conflict and isolation, desperately needs the sort of tough love that it is not getting now.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post  at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

22 comments for “Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

  1. Jimmy
    September 17, 2012 at 16:08

    I think the this paragraph, which I quote below, tells us everything we need to know..

    ‘Maybe preventing the mere possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon would mean Israeli leaders would think only once and not twice before the next time they throw their weight and armed might around in Gaza or Lebanon or someplace else. And the drum-beating about Iran does divert attention away from that pesky matter involving political rights and self-determination for Palestinians.’

    It’s the loss of the ability to humiliate, bully and degrade their neighbours that Israel is really whinging about.

  2. Barak Obummer
    September 16, 2012 at 16:44

    Fuck off, borat creature. Over 90 percent of so-called “Jews” today are descendants of the Khazars – a Turkic-Mongol tribe of central Asia that converted to Judaism in the 8th century AD and which never set foot in Palestine. So the overwhelming majority of Jews today are not semites, asshole. The true semites are the mid-eastern Jews and the Palestinians.

    You can shove your “antisemitic” shit right back up your kike ass.

    • Malecon
      September 16, 2012 at 20:37

      Here here, Barak! Facts are right on.

    • jim
      September 17, 2012 at 11:05

      “We are the intruders. We are disturbers. We are subverters. We have taken your natural world, your ideals, your destiny, and played havoc with them. We have been at the bottom of not merely the latest Great War but of nearly all your wars, not only of the Russian but of nearly every other major revolution in your history. We have brought discord and confusion and frustration into your personal and public life. We are still doing it. No one can tell how long we shall go on doing it.” – Marcus Eli Ravage, the authorized Jew biographer for the Rothschild dynasty wrote this in an article in The Century Magazine, January 1928, volume 115, no. 3 pp 346-350

      The Federal Reserve Bank is pretty secretive about who it’s owning banks or shareholders are. It has been determined that the “Class A” stock in the Federal Reserve Bank are held by the following 8 institutions: Rothschild Banks of London and Berlin, Lazard Brothers Bank of Paris, Israel Moses Seif Bank of Italy, Warburg Bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam, Lehman Bank of New York, Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York, Chase Manhattan Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs Bank of New York. The Remaining Stock is held by the Chemical Trust and the Rockefeller Trust. These stockholders hold Federal Government Obligations which amount to more than $10 trillion Dollars – The entire U.S. National Debt. Their annual profits from interest payments are over $300 billion dollars per year.

      99% fucking kike.

      • jj
        September 20, 2012 at 10:10

        To that Borat Jewboy: NAZI = NAtional Socialist and ZIonist parties, you sucker of mutilated cock. The Khazar leaders of that shithole called Israel are the new Nazis. Fuck off for eternity, you putrid heap of Khazar-Jew shite.

  3. Bill Jones
    September 15, 2012 at 23:46

    There are two good things happening here.

    The Israeli command of US policy in the middle east is becoming both more extreme and more obvious.

    The bankruptcy of the US is becoming more obvious and imminent.

    Even dumb-fuck Americans will start to put the two together.

  4. Kenny Fowler
    September 15, 2012 at 15:01

    Bibi’s continued ranting is certainly an attempt to meddle in the election to get his war. If he wants to continue that’s his decision but any credibility he had is gone. War mongers are losing friends fast these days.

  5. Hillary
    September 15, 2012 at 14:46

    Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

    How dare you.

    The chosen people have what they call “Chutspa”

    Believing that they are chosen by God to be the favorite people they should get everything they desire.

    The question is that if 80% of Jews worldwide are Ashkenazi from Eastern Europe like Bibi only the other 20% can claim to be Semitic ?

    Bibi’s “chosen people,” is another big lie that makes his Zionism possible.

    A partial quote from Rabbi Ovidea Yosef, October 2010: . Yosef the highly-respected rabbi and Israeli scholar (Wikipedia ).

    “The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews”. He said that Gentiles served a divine purpose: “Why are Gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap.

    We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why Gentiles were created.”

  6. johncr12
    September 14, 2012 at 21:22

    What I am seeing with Zionist Israelis in the Israeli government is a “flavoring” from past decades:

    Modern Day Holocausts & Genocides attributed to Zionist Jews/Communists
    From: http://www.thebirdman.org/Index/Jews/Jews-CaseJews.htmli

    The numerous holocausts and genocides of which communists and/or Jewish financing have been found to be responsible:
    [Prior to the “holocaust” of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and other groups deemed undesirable by the Nazis , 1939-1944]

    the massacre of the Christian Russian kulaks of 1924-30 (15 million killed);
    the Ukranian holocaust of 1930-33 (7 million starved to death);
    the holocaust of Russian political dissidents of 1919-49 (12 million dead);
    the Spanish Civil War massacre of Spanish Christians

    And then there are these atrocities laid at the step of the “neocon” elite [mostly Jewish]of various states where wealth, power and Control were their incentives {be sure to look to the financiers of these atrocities] :
    Money is Power & Control

    the WWII Katyn massacre in Poland (which eliminated 15,000 members of Poland’s military and intellectual elite);
    the post-WWII Polish Office of State Security massacres of German civilians (60-80,000 deaths, described in Sack (1993));
    the various massacres of Palestinians (Deir Yassin, Qana and others), and so on (Fields (nd)).

    From: http://www.thebirdman.org/Index/Jews/Jews-CaseJews.htmli
    Yet, the Zionist is the first to rattle the saber, and then uses pressure [MSM], blackmail[government officials], and deceit [it’s DOA-drug/oil/ARMS -not “poor little israel] to goad so called allies into mortal straits, not for the benefit of the ally, but for the Zionist “homeland”. Whatever happened to “poor little Israel” any way? Didn’t you hear…..she rules with the gold of her victims by stealth and deception. And the USA is still holding “little Israel’s hand”! When are we going to read the “news”, The REAL NEWS?

    We ask, how can the “zionists/neocons” do such atrocities, as they look upon their “holocaust[s]”?

    the various massacres of Palestinians (Deir Yassin, Qana and others), and so on (Fields (nd)).

    “”We Jews shall always remain strangers among the Goyim . . . . It is a fact the Jewish religion is above all Jewish nationalism. . . . Each and every Jew, whether or not he wishes it, Is automatically, by virtue of his birth, bound in solidarity with his entire nation. . . . One must be a Jew first and human being second.” — Moses Hess, teacher of Karl Marx and spiritual father of both Zionism and Communism, wrote in Rome and Jerusalem

    A Dire Warning to AMERICA from our past:
    “A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation facilitates the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, infuses into one the enmities of the other, and betrays the former into participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.. It also gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, who devote themselves to the favorite nation, facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country.” George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

    Wake UP citizenry ….we’re about to be coerced again for “poor little Israel”!

  7. JohnC
    September 14, 2012 at 16:12

    Netanyahu’s relentless pressuring to get the US involved reminds me of a joke doing the rounds in Europe in the 1940s.
    Q. What’s the Jewish national anthem?
    A. Onward Christian Soldiers.

    • Jay Diamond
      September 15, 2012 at 14:41

      Hi John,

      Thanks for informing me that no Jews served in WW2. All this time the mainstream media had me convinced that there were many Jewish soldiers both in the USA and in the Soviet Union, from the ranks up to the officer corps that served commendably in WW2.

      Thanks for telling us the truth.

      I mean, it IS the truth, right Johnny boy ?

      • September 15, 2012 at 19:17

        You can find out for yourself how few Jews serve, pal.

        Jews are over-represented in banking, media, law, medicine (etc.) but
        Starkly under-repped in the military.

        Strange, given this, that most of the chickenhawk neocons urging us to war are Jews, no?

        More volunteer for the IDF than the US ARMY – but ‘dual loyalty’ is a ‘canard,’ right, pal?

        Most Jews arent neocons, but most neocons are Jews.

        And they should be strung up.

        • Barak Obummer
          September 16, 2012 at 13:42

          To that Borat creature: Get the fuck off this planet, and take your mutilated two-inch Khazar dick with you. Fucking kike.

        • Aaron
          September 17, 2012 at 12:44

          First of all, the notion that they are Jewish is irrelevant in this day and age. Your comment is mostly based on easy cliches because neocons you refer to and who happen to be Jewish are in truth lunatic right-wing militarists, and lobby groups like AIPAC who urge US law makers to support Israel are actually telling them to continue with occupation of Palestinian land. If the conflict would have been resolved equitably according to international law between the Israelis and Palestinians long ago, those organizations would have had no real influence among members of Congress and the Pentagon.

          I’m sure you’re probably aware as to why the US continues to support Israel because in its current state of expansion in the West Bank and keeping Gaza in a state of siege, it feeds the war business, and if there had been peace and justice regarding Israel and the Palestinians, the biggest loser would be the US arms industry raking in the plus billions

          What has been the budget for the US national defense compared to other sectors in the last ten years ?

    • Billy from Philli
      September 15, 2012 at 16:23

      LOL! Absolutely brilliant!

      • F. G. Sanford
        September 15, 2012 at 18:14

        Y’all need to watch “Tobruk” with Rock Hudson and George Peppard! According to Hollywood, they practically won the war single-handed!

  8. Aaron
    September 14, 2012 at 12:25

    The Canadian government will be the first to openly support any pre-emptive attack by the Israelis despite no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already thrown out Canada’s reputation out the window on just about any issue regarding world affairs, and by cutting all diplomatic ties with Iran and signalling full support of an eventual Israeli military strike – he would have closed it shut for a long long time.

    • Matt Palmer
      September 14, 2012 at 14:35

      Yes, Harper, the harpy, is the beta-male follower of powerful imbeciles like w.bush, and a sycophant of the megalomaniacal, Machiavellian, meshuggener, and mordant moron netan-yahoo. What a bunch of yenta’s. He knows where power and money resides.
      P.S. Harper is a hoser.
      P.P.S. Canada is an otherwise great and beautiful country, I mean it no disrespect.

  9. sig arnesen
    September 14, 2012 at 11:47

    Mr. Netanyahu likes to brandish his power on everyone who does not bend the knee to his wishes. Right now the Near East is extremely volatile and the Israeli only exacerbates the instability.
    It surely is time for Israel to come to some sense in its relations with the U.S. , Iran, and the rest of the world.
    President Carter asked in 2006, “Can Israel’s enormous military power prevail over militant Arabs?” (“Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” p.12) The answer is clearly NO. But can Netanyahu get it?

  10. Byron
    September 14, 2012 at 11:27

    Israel has gone way too far. Our government is peppered with Israeli moles and spies We have dual citizen Neocons openly promoting Israeli goals. Israel is more of a threat to our freedom than any Islamic country. Our military has become the dog that guards Israeli frontdoor. And yet we call them our most important ally. Billionaire Jewish Zionists assure our media promotes that lie and bribes our politicians.

    • umar
      September 17, 2012 at 16:42

      i totally agree. Israel , in my opinion, the real terrorist threat. Not muslims/islam or even radicals. The US needs to stop bending over and taking it. All the zionist own our elections anyway, and if this guy was a real jew, he’d know that god said not to rebuild israel.

  11. bobzz
    September 14, 2012 at 10:28

    Israel needs salvation from “Bibi.”

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