A Step Back From War: Netanyahu’s Big Misstep

(7) NetanyahuNetanyahu is sort of a tough guy who acts like he cannot be pushed around. He will do anything to stay in office as we saw with his stunt prior to the last election. He’s a “my way or the highway type guy.” He’s not happy listening to opinions that run counter to what he is thinking.

He has probably been in office too long for his own good and the good of Israel. He has not changed as the world has.  He has kept himself in power by sowing fear and portraying himself as the one person who can protect Israel.

His biggest supporter is a guy from Dorchester, MA, named Sheldon Adelson. He’s another tough guy who clawed and chewed his way to riches by working hard, starting one business after the other, never-resting until he finally hit the jackpot when he  involved himself in the gambling business buying the Sands Hotel in Las Vegaa and gambling casinos in other parts of the world.

Adelson also owns at least three newspapers in Israel which command over 50% of the Israeli readership. These all fervently support Netanyahu.

I heard this story once about Adelson and Netanyahu. I don’t attest to its truthfulness. When I heard it I was reminded of the young Bulgarian lady named Annina who was about to be compromised by Captain Renault of the local police. He controlled what she and her husband, Jan, needed. Rick the owner of the Cafe where Jan had gone to gamble came to her rescue. He stood behind Jan who was sitting at the roulette table.  He told him to put all his money on a certain number; he looked to the croupier, gave him the nod, and lo and behold that number came up. Jan was about to pick up his winnings. Rick told him to leave it there, gave the nod, and he won again thus saving Annina’s virtue.

The story is that Adelson took Netanyahu into one of his casinos. Netanyahu wasn’t much for gambling but Adelson convinced him to put a few dollars on a roulette number. Sure enough it won. He told him to leave it there and it won again. When he did it a third time Adelson told him to pick up his winnings. Thereafter at dinner that evening Adelson convince Netanyahu he was a good gambler.

Adelson has a particular dislike for President Obama. He had suggested that to solve the Iranian problem we drop a nuclear weapon on Iran to show off our seriousness. Obama did not buy that. Feeling dissed and pissed, Adelson was determined to do all in his power to destroy Obama.

His chance came with the reelection bid of Obama. Adelson backed his opponent Romney. He reminded Netanyahu he was a good gambler so he should do the same thing. (Some say Netanyahu had no choice because he had tied his lot too closely to Adelson who through his newspapers can make or break him.) Netanyahu bit. He supported Romney against the sitting president. Romney lost. The gamble failed. A permanent chill came between Obama and Netanyahu, as one would expect.

Adelson who is a big financier of the Republicans convinced Netanyahu to double up on his loss rather than trying to patch up the differences with Obama. He arranged for the Republican Speaker Boehner to invite Netanyahu to address a full session of Congress to speak out against any deal with Iran. This was a way to embarrass President Obama on his home turf. Netanyahu again bit, he came and he thought he conquered. He didn’t. He just further isolated himself from Obama who became more determined than ever to get a deal.

Netanyahu forgot the old adage that if you are going to strike at a king the blow has to be fatal. Just wounding him makes the retribution quite horrible. Obama could not openly strike back but he could close the door on his input into the thing he was most concerned about, the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

Netanyahu alienated the president of the United States and lost any influence he could have had in the negotiations. The advice he got from Adelson was bad. Adelson is more of a money bully than a politician. Had Netanyahu used his political instincts he would have followed LBJ’s advise: “it is better to be in the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” 

How badly his gamble failed is seen in the deal that is reached today with Iran. Israel had forfeited its influence over the U.S.’s dealings. Had it maintained it then there would have been no deal.

A correspondent for the Guardian Peter Beaumont noted about Netanyahu: “He has been singing from the same song sheet for two decades warning in catastrophic terms about the threat of a nuclear Iran but – when it came to the crunch – world powers chose to go with negotiations and a deal not with the Israeli prime minister’s dire warnings.. . . And despite a deal that appears far tougher than many had anticipated it is pretty clear now that no deal with Iran, no matter how tough, could ever satisfy Israel and certainly not Netanyahu. While the Israeli government has said it will continue fighting in the US Congress it is hard to see how that strategy will help Israel in the long run at a time when it is becoming ever more diplomatically isolated.”

The best part of the deal is the U.S. will no longer be lured into a war with Iran. We’ve had sanctions against Iran since 1979. The world has not become a better place for them. It is time we try something different and as they used to chant: “give peace a chance.”

11 thoughts on “A Step Back From War: Netanyahu’s Big Misstep

  1. Your style is unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this

  2. Gotta ” Mullah ” this one over ; the Iranian theocratic shot callers are shrewd, rude, craftily overbearing in negotiations, and impervious to being subdued by the charming dude, Barak Obama
    I like Barak. He has steadfast convictions . But he ” dissed and pissed ” 🙂 ( nice !!! ) Benjamin Netanyahu , conscientiously and consistently, before the reverse happened. The Middle East , who shall ” Roulette ” there, ” Rick” Obama ???

  3. Well said. There is also certainly an off book clear understanding between Iran and the world powers that Palestine two state issue will now be addressed.

    1. Jim:

      Maybe that is so about the two-state issue but my take would be that this pushes the idea of two states even further away. I expect Israel to become more truculent and resistant to making any type of deal as long as Obama remains in office.

  4. “Iran, as the heart of Shi’ite Islam, is a militant enemy of radical Sunni movements like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. If the United States is truly dedicated to fighting those movements, Iran would be a logical partner.” -Stephen Kinzer Boston Globe

    Since it seems to have been left up to the Kurds and the United States to contain and push back the Islamic State we are forced to either try to make friends where we can or intervene to a greater extent militarily ourselves.

    Though strong allies, the United States and Israel have separate interests in making a deal with Iran. For the United States, the possibility of constructive engagement with Iran, of helping stabilize the region and countering the Islamic State insurgency without more American troops on the ground is worth the risk that they might get atomic weapons at some point down the road.

    For Israel, the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran is not worth the potential upside. They’re the ones that are more likely to be the target of such a weapon and they can’t benefit from the trade agreement and other exchanges to the same extent.

    In response to the deal, Israel says they are going to see to it that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. Personally I don’t think having Israel around in this bad cop role is counter to the United States interest. Israel shows itself to be our ally here in its own way.

    Both countries need to pursue their own national interests. Israel may have a hard time seeing that our interests and theirs might not be one and the same in this case. But it’s not like the United States doesn’t suffer from a similar myopia from time to time.

    After World War II Americans had to adjust from the Good Chinese and the Good Russians, and the bad Japanese and the bad Germans to the opposite. Our differences with Iran are quite a bit more ingrained and long lasting, but our military options are limited and we have to try some different things that maybe we aren’t entirely comfortable with in order to contain the Islamic State.

    The Islamic State is a really challenging adversary. They have a very sophisticated public diplomacy campaign with the outside world and there is a lot more to it than 24/7 hour jihad recruitment by Lord of the Rings style bad guys:

    “There is a very strong strain of Islamic State propaganda that depicts the caliphate as a stable place … that is not even being remotely contested right now,” – Charlie Winter, senior researcher at the UK-based counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam

    Islamic State propaganda: what the West doesn’t understand

    1. Kerry:

      Good comment. As usual we try to simplify our enemy as we do with IS presenting it as one dimensional. The article you cite points out it has another side that is attractive to many. It is growing into a formidable enemy. It will be very difficult force to fight. We can watch the present battle in Iraq in Anbar Provice to see if the Iraqi forces have improved. They have controlled Mosul for over a year, are deeply embedded there, and the campaign to push them out which was supposed to start last spring has been put on hold. The longer they stay the harder it will be to regain the city without immense loss of life.
      Who will be our allies in that fight. We have the Kurds which is good. I expect they will want something from their assistance. We have the Shia in Iraq who are far from reliable. We could use the Iranian help and that may be in the minds of the negotiators.
      The problem we face in that area is that there are a multitude of games going on. The article you referred to said the U.S. and the Gulf States are going to join together to counter the IS propaganda. The problem is that those are Sunni states who may have much trouble being harsh to their Sunni brothers in IS.
      The real significance of the deal with Iran is that for the first time in many years the United State acted without giving Israel a veto over its actions. Iran would be a natural enemy of IS since it is a Shia state. NC who has posted here in the past points out that the main terrorist groups in the area have been Sunni such as Kinzer notes.
      Israel is now coming to America to try to stop the deal. It will be interesting to see how our members of Congress react. Will they follow their president and do what he suggests is best for America; or will they follow the Israeli leader and do what is best for Israel.
      Israel is not concerned about a “nuclear Iran.” Its big concern is about an economically strong Iran. We have kept it down for 35 years. Israel wanted us to keep it down forever. Many have said there is no deal with Iran that Israel would be happy with since it likes the way things are now with Iran being economically crippled. Obama hopes that an economically prosperous Iran will change it and make it more willing to be a partner for peace. The road we were on was bringing us to war which is the last thing we need because a war with Iran, which Israel has been pushing for, would only empower the Sunni terrorists.
      We do have to adjust. Good China became bad (RED) China and then good China. Vietnam was our enemy and now we trade with it.

  5. This the same Adelson used to hang around the G & G? Now I know i shouldn’t have played barboot with him.

    1. Henry:

      Maybe when you did he learned the value of owning a gaming mill. Perhaps you should contact him and remind him that you got him going in the gambling business. Perhaps he can throw a few shekels your way.

    2. Beginning during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt and continuing through the 1966 gubernatorial battle between John A. Volpe and Endicott Peabody, the G&G was a traditional campaign stop for corned beef, cheesecake, handshakes and political banter.

      “My father [Benjamin Klingsberg] was completely impartial. He was a life-long Democrat, but he once told me that he believed that everyone including Republicans, is entitled to a corned-beef sandwich.”

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