Political commentator Jeffrey Goldberg believes that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is failing at his job, especially when it comes to the threat of a nuclear Iran. He said as much in his Atlantic piece titled “The Netanyahu Disaster.”
The article comes in the wake of the recent announcement that Netanyahu would speak before the U.S. Congress at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, without first having consulted the White House on the matter. President Obama is said to be furious about this and Netanyahu is being accused, both at home and abroad, of harming the US Israel relationship.
According to Goldberg, Netanyahu can either stop Iran with a preemptive strike on its nuclear facilities or by convincing the American president to confront Iran itself. The former is not a good option for the Jewish State as it may not have the military capability to pull off such a long range attack. The United States, on the other hand, has military bases closer to Iran and aircraft carriers.
Goldberg wrote that, “Whatever the case, the only other way for Netanyahu to stop Iran would be to convince the president of the United States, the leader of the nation that is Israel’s closest ally and most crucial benefactor, to confront Iran decisively. An Israeli strike could theoretically set back Iran’s nuclear program, but only the U.S. has the military capabilities to set back the program in anything approaching a semi-permanent way. And only the United States has the throw-weight to organize sanctions regimes of lasting consequence.”
The writer also pointed out that until now Netanyahu and Obama have been playing sort of a good cop/bad cop routine in which the former took a belligerent stance on Iran and went around the world threatening to take action while the latter tried to get sanctions imposed by the world community, using the threat of a possible unilateral military attack by Israel to encourage such action.
But now the U.S. Congress, led by a new Republican majority in both houses, is threatening to take away president Obama’s ability to act by passing new legislation which would require automatic and unilateral sanctions against Iran by the U.S. Obama is threatening a veto saying that such a law would not only be premature, but also interfere with his Constitutional mandate ad the president to determine the U.S. foreign policy.
Netanyahu’s planned speech to the Congress in support of a more aggressive stand on Iran is seen by many as undercutting the American president on this very sensitive issue. The move could harm the US/Israel alliance.
As Goldberg wrote, “A sitting president cannot be written off by a small, dependent ally, without terrible consequences.”