Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bibi Wags That Dog Again

As embattled Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu continues to face multiple corruption investigations that threaten to bring down the government, it appears that he views his best chance of political survival as providing flimsy pretext for the Trump regime to scrap the US/EU nuclear deal with Iran in favor of a good old fashioned war. NY Magazine's Jonah Shepp:

In a special address on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented what he described as shocking, indisputable evidence that Iran had lied about its covert nuclear weapons program in the past and “continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge for future use” after signing the 2015 deal with six world powers to halt its nuclear activities.

Netanyahu was speaking on primetime Israeli television, but his presentation was delivered primarily in English and appeared targeted to a daytime audience in the U.S. (and perhaps an audience of one, residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.) rather than to his fellow Israelis. If so, it certainly had its intended effect, causing President Donald Trump to declare that he was “100 percent right” about the failings of the nuclear deal, less than two weeks ahead of his next chance to derail it.

Much like Netanyahu’s previous dire warnings about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, however, this one is being hugely oversold. The trove of Iranian documents recently obtained by Israeli intelligence, most of which date to before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was adopted, do not constitute proof that Iran either has violated or intends to violate it. Several experts and European diplomats pointed out that the Israeli prime minister had not revealed anything they didn’t already know, nor did he provide a proverbial smoking gun to show that Iran was making an end run around the JCPOA. If Mossad had found slam-dunk proof of noncompliance in their brazen heist of Iran’s nuclear archive, surely Netanyahu would have included it in his PowerPoint. That he didn’t suggests that they haven’t.

The nuclear deal is an imperfect document, to be sure, as agreements signed between adversaries usually are, but right-wing criticism of it tends to proceed from the false premises that the Obama administration was unaware of Iran’s past behavior and unconcerned that the JCPOA would not prevent Iran from engaging in nuclear activity in perpetuity. Of course we knew that Iran was pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program prior to 2015: That’s why we made them agree to stop it.

It also takes some chutzpah for the prime minister of Israel — whose own nuclear program involved lying to the international community, duping American nuclear inspectors, and possibly stealing highly enriched uranium from the U.S., and which has never acknowledged that program’s existence — to accuse another country of engaging in this particular kind of duplicity. But surely Netanyahu feels that the choices Israel made in its pursuit of the bomb were justified for the sake of its national security, given that it has always been surrounded by enemies.

The White House immediately issued a blaring press release stating that Iran has a covert nuclear program, as in present tense today, which would be a clear violation of the agreement, and only several hours later bothered "correcting" the release to say Tehran had a covert nuclear program, which...yeah, was the whole point of the Iranian nuclear deal. The correction came of course after dozens of breathless right-wing armchair generals declared the nuclear deal dead amid depressingly familiar expectations of a replay of sixteen years ago.

Trump needs a war as much as Bibi does right now, and a fight of some sort with Iran seems like their best collective bet.  Remember, it only took 18 months before the Bushies had convinced the world that we needed to bomb Baghdad into scrap metal after 9/11.

And hell, it was only seven weeks between Colin Powell's UN speech on Saddam having "weapons of mass destruction" and the US invasion of Iraq.

Might want to keep that in mind.

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