Yes, Bibi Wants Us To Go To War For Him

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Which is unsurprising – except that obviously, he feels a little stymied by the choice just made by the Iranian people. (Neocons like their Iranians to be uncomplicated demons.) Ali Gharib unpacks Netanyahu’s latest push – once again made on national television – for the US to attack Iran:

Netanyahu’s remarks clearly took aim at what many advocates of forging a diplomatic deal—a deal, that is, to ease the nuclear crisis between Iran and the West and avert war—think is an opportunity in the election of Hassan Rowhani, a moderate Iranian cleric, to be president of Iran. After the CBS host’s third question, Netanyahu raised the Iranian election himself, for the purpose of dismissing Rowhani: “Now mind you, there’s a new president in Iran,” Netanyahu said. “He’s criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf’s clothing. His strategy is be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Smile and build a bomb.” This will of course sound a little odd to anyone who’s looked at a few photos or videos of the lame-duck Iranian hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who smiled constantly.

But the “smile” line was just a catchphrase. Netayahu’s main point is the same one that’s been made before by Netanyahu himself and a virtual who’s who of American Iran hawks (helpfully catalogued by Marsha Cohen): that Rowhani shouldn’t even be given the chance to make good on campaign promises of accommodation with the West and transparency in Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu knows that without the impunity of being the sole nuclear power in the Middle East, Israel’s capacity to wage conventional war at will in the region would be constrained. Adam Chandler notes the context:

The timing of the interview also seems noteworthy because Netanyahu is changing course on the diplomatic front, following the naming of senior adviser Ron Dermer as Michael Oren’s successor as the Israeli ambassador to the United States. On Oren’s way out, he has sought to emphasize that the United States and Israel have enjoyed a strong relationship, especially with regard to strategy on Iran’s nuclear program.

Juan Cole fumes:

Everyone in the international community agrees that the new president of Iran will have to be given at least a year, and maybe more, to prove he is an earnest negotiator for Iran. You can’t just attack a presidential administration that only recently got into office and before taking the measure of it. The European powers and the countries of the global South would never accept it. …  Netanyahu keeps threatening to attack Iran himself, if the US Pentagon won’t do it for him, but this bluff is transparent. Israel cannot plausibly conduct a successful military operation so far from its borders (Iran is a long way away).