That two-bit hustler and war criminal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke before the US congress yesterday. He was given standing ovation after ovation, as he denounced US President Obama’s proposed deal in the making with the Iranian regime. Some 50 members of congress boycotted the speech, not because Netanyahu is a war criminal and a racist and war monger, but simply because it was arranged by the competing political party (the Republicans) and behind the backs of the Democrats and the president. In other words, it was a partisan event.
In US capitalist politics, the president takes the initiatives as far as pushing the interests of Corporate America around the world (otherwise known as foreign policy). That includes setting relations with other heads of state. The fact that the opposing political party would take this initiative, behind the back of the president, is highly unusual. So unusual, in fact, that some 50 Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s speech, despite the fact that congress members usually worship at the feet of Israeli prime ministers like children do at the feet of Santa Clause.
Iran “Charging into the void”
Netanyahu denounced the expansionist tendencies of the Iranian regime. “As states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void,” he said. He cited Iranian intervention in Syria and Yemen. “At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations…. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror,” he said to applause. (The fact that the Israeli regime is the one most busy gobbling up land from the West Bank to the Golan Heights in Syria is never considered.)
He went on to denounce the human rights violations in Iran – repression of women, of gays, etc. (No mention of labor rights, of course.) Again to more applause.
This denunciation of the human rights record of the Iranian regime is, of course, just a fig leaf since the record of war crimes and crimes against humanity of regimes like Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s are ignored. The real concern is the fact of a new bully on the block, a regime that is not allied with Western capitalism that threatens to become a rival power in this oil-rich region.
US Capitalism Weakened
Obama criticized Netanyahu’s speech as “offering nothing new”, and he is right. But, on the other hand, so is Netanyahu as far as his criticism of Obama’s proposed deal – a deal that will not stop Iran from potentially developing nuclear weapons. In other words, it’s one more example of the general trend of world capitalist relations: US capitalism is increasingly unable to control events and is increasingly seeing rivals strengthen themselves and defy the US. Back during the last year or so of the Bush presidency, there was a growing trend towards a military attack on Iran to try to crush its nuclear aspirations. Had McCain gotten elected, that probably would have happened. The dangers were too great, however, and that is a major reason why Corporate America saw to it that Obama was installed in the White House.
Since then, Iran has gotten even stronger and there is nothing US capitalism can do about it. Bombing Iran would not stop them; a ground invasion would be necessary, and that would be an even greater disaster for US capitalism than was the invasion of Iraq. But the economic sanctions has not stopped them either.
Israel, too, is powerless to stop it. As one on-line Israeli news agency pointed out: “Though Netanyahu has been in power for six consecutive years, and has claimed Iran as his number one priority, the Islamic republic has made significant headway during this period – both in terms of its nuclear program and in terms of strengthening its regional hold, as Netanyahu himself has repeatedly claimed.”
Effect of Speech
What effect is this speech likely to have?
It will shore up congressional opposition to any nuclear deal with Iran that Obama may negotiate. In fact, it is nearly certain that any such deal will not be approved in the Republican-controlled congress.
But Netanyahu’s visit comes with a cost, also: Among many, it will be seen for the blatant attempt that it is to undermine the Democratic president and strengthen the Republicans, especially as the US enters into a new presidential election cycle. For the first time, the slavish support for everything the Israeli regime does is likely to be weakened a little bit.
Exactly for this reason, there were serious doubts in Israel, itself, as far Netanyahu making this partisan visit. The Wall St. Journal reported (3-1-15) that close to 200 former military and intelligence officials, including six retired generals, have criticized this visit because it is so outside the normal capitalist diplomatic protocols.
As for Iran itself, there is every reason why this capitalist regime would want to develop nuclear weapons. How else to become a regional power, after all? And there is every reason for their rivals – from the US to Israel to Saudi Arabia – to oppose that development. What this clash of capitalist interests shows, once again, is the disaster that capitalism has in store for the entire planet.