Israel’s Netanyahu jumps Shark with “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis barb

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, no longer allowed to sit at the adult table because of his past food fights, has been reduced, as Haaretz observed, to whining from the sidelines. Now he is complaining about an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis.

The negotiations between Iran and the P5 + 1 (the five permenent members of teh UN Security Council plus Germany) have come down to the wire. Diplomats want a final deal by close of business Tuesdays. Last minute complications have predictably arisen, but from all accounts a deal is plausible, though not yet a sure thing.

Any deal would limit Iran’s break-out capacity or ability to go for broke and produce a nuclear warhead (something its Supreme clerical leader, Ali Khamenei, says he doesn’t want, since weapons of mass destruction are illegal in Islamic law, which forbids killing non-combatants and innocents.) In return, Iran wants a removal of international economic sanctions.

Netanyahu opposes this deal because it would leave Iran with the right to enrich uranium and a distant break-out capacity. He wants Iran to be forced to mothball its uranium enrichment program entirely, a demand that is completely unrealistic short of a US invasion and occupation of that country (which is 2.5 times as populous as Iraq and much bigger geographically).

Netanyahu resents Israel having been pushed out of its occupied territory in Lebanon by the Iran-backed Hizbullah. As a Greater Israel expansionist, he wants the state to be completely unconstrained, as the only nuclear-armed power in the region.

To jump the shark” means to go so far as to become a self-parody that can no longer be taken seriously.

Netanyahu now cannot tell the difference between diplomats in pinstripes being stiff around the table in Switzerland and grassroots Shiite tribal forces asserting themselves in Yemen. He sees French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as a Houthi tribesman, beturbanned and attended by goats. Even the idea that the Houthi movement in Yemen can be seen primarily as an Iranian project is a falsehood; it is a grassroots expression of frustration with governmental neglect. Netanyahu has started seeing Iran all around him, giving him nightmares, consuming his every waking moment.

This absurdism comes not from fear that Iran might do something to Israel. It is far away and doesn’t have the military capacity, and has a no first strike policy. Moreover, Israel has some 200 nuclear weapons while Iran has none.

It is because Netanyahu as a militarist wants to be able to be brutal to his neighbors with no fear of being curbed.

And, it is because Netanyahu desperately wants to take the world’s eyes off the creeping Israeli colonization and annexation of Palestinian property in the West Bank.

His alarmism is intended to impress Republicans in Congress and to persuade them to reject any Iran deal attained, because militarists never like to see an outbreak of peace.

As for ordinary Americans, we’d all be much better off and spared a ruinous and fruitless war, if the Iran deal is brought to fruition. Pay no attention to those raspberries coming from Tel Aviv . . . or are they sour grapes?

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20 Responses

  1. Not only does the spoilt brat throw a tantrum about unable to participate in the food fights, it seems little Netty is having a hissy fit because he does not want his neighbor to have a shiny new toy. He wants to be the bully in the block where he can threaten to use his toy against them all, and damn uncle Obama for wanting to deny him that.

  2. I saw a clip of Mitch McConnell, who is in Israel, holding a joint news conference with Netanyahu. The news clip looked as if McConnell was an actor reading his lines for a role in front of the director. It was embarrassing to see a U.S. senator conspiring with a foreign leader against the best interest of his own country. After the dog and pony show for the press I hope McConnell got a pat on the head from Bibi.

  3. If this yahoo person wasn’t responsible for so much suffering, I would feel sorry for it (him). He acts like an alcoholic before their first meeting, thriving on fear, resentments and general insanity. It has become like a TV show, however the horrific part is that this is reality, and a whole natyion s waiting for him to get his comeuppance. As Stewy the Human Dog from American Dad would say to Nit-N-Yahoo: “I have a present for you in my pants and it is not a toaster.”

  4. I have never understood why anyone things Iran would bomb Israel with a nuclear weapon. The fallout would drift right over the West Bank. So if Iran hates Israel for its occupation of the West Bank, why does it make sense for them to kill most of the Arabs living on the West Bank?

    • Not to mention that Israel undoubtedly possess a second strike nuclear force that would leave no one in Iran alive if used.

  5. Absolutely correct in your analysis, Dr. Cole! The idea of a peaceful Israel living peaceably with its neighbors is anathematic to everything Bibi and the Right (in Israel and USA) stand for. Many years ago M. Buber offered a condominium of Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land, which, ironically, was supported by the Iranian author J. Al-e Ahmad–a darling of the conservatives in Tehran (see his Journey to the Realm of Azrael).
    Israel could have made friends with the Shi’is in Lebanon had Shamir-Sharon gang shown a modicum of intelligence in the early 80s.

  6. I’ve been calling Netanyahoo a Mad Dog for many years.
    I now fear I may have been rude to, uh, Mad Dogs.

  7. Would that you were completely right– Bibi a joke. But Madame Clinton and the Republican clowns in the USA’s circus-politics don’t seem to agree. So. Bibi a clown in certain audiences and an almost POTUS in others.

  8. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, no longer allowed to sit at the adult table because of his past food fights, has been reduced,…

    to being applauded by both houses of the US Congress.

  9. I think the U.S. is irrelevant with regard to these negotiations. Netanyahu biggest problem is not that he has pissed off about half of Americans, but that he has pissed of most in Europe with his behavior. If a deal is done or maybe even if it is not done, the Europeans, Russians and Chinese may reduce or eliminate their sanctions on Iran, regardless of what Republicans think in the U.S. Even if the U.S. keeps its sanctions on, that will not mean much, if the rest of the planet starts to trade with Iran again.

    • I would add that Netanyahu does not have AIPAC to back him in Europe, so he has less political leverage in Europe from which to stop sanctions from being lifted by Europeans. That is more significant at this point than anything that happens in the U.S.

  10. “Even the idea that the Houthi movement in Yemen can be seen primarily as an Iranian project is a falsehood; it is a grassroots expression of frustration with governmental neglect. ”

    Iran has it’s hands all over the Houthis in support of them. There’s plenty of evidence they’ve been helping for years – I’m not saying Bibi’s right, but please acknowledge the facts.

    NYT, Jan, 2013: “Yemen Seizes Boat Suspected of Smuggling Iranian Arms” – just a start…

  11. What will happen if there is no deal, Yemen heats up and Iran ramps up enrichment of uranium? Bibi and the Saudi ambassador will be at the head of the Republican Congo line running down Pennsylvania ave.

  12. The WaPo points out today that a recent survey shows that Americans endorse the idea of a nuclear deal with Iran by 2 to 1. This despite the best efforts of Republicans, Democrat neocons and the right wing main stream US media to derail the deal. It just shows that , when it comes to dealing with any issue that has a strong lobby, whether Israel, guns, or banking, it is public be dammed as far as our craven politicians are concerned.

    • Not all congressmen are equal, and when someone wants to control the US they compromise the appropriate politicians strategically. It takes better than average knowledge, contacts, and leverage in general, but there are plenty of people who have what it takes to take care of themselves.

      When these characters are unsuccessful it doesn’t appear to so much be due to congressional integrity, but rather to competing lobbyists asserting their priorities more strongly. As far as those who bring-up the low-end of priorities when it comes to being taken care of, that would be the ⅔ you cited.

  13. In the last days of the campaign he was inveighing against “Scandinavians” trying to impose their peace plans on Israel. So it should be “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen-Stockholm” axis.

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