Netanyahu Address to Congress Same Old Argument Against Iran Negotiations

Israeli prime minister insisted his visit wasn't political, stuck to most of his same talking points.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress this morning, sans Vice President Joe Biden and more than 50 other Democrats, as well as Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who skipped Netanyahu's third appearance in Congress.

In 2002 Netanyahu testified on Iraq before the House government affairs committee. There he guaranteed that taking out Saddam Hussein would "have enormous positive reverberations on the region." Kerry pointed out the wrongness of these comments but not that his rhetoric on Iraq's (non-existent) nuclear capabilities matched Netanyahu's, and most of Washington's. In 2011 Netanyahu addressed a joint sessions of Congress, warning of the threat of a nuclear Iran, something he has a long history of overblowing.

The Israeli prime minister began his address this morning by insisting his appearance, which has divided Congress on an Israel-related issue in a way the highly partisan body usually doesn't divide on Israel, wasn't meant to be political and re-iterating his belief that President Obama has supported Israel as strongly as any other president. He sought to connect the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the terrorist group the U.S. has at least passively worked against alongside Iran. The Iraqi army launched an offensive to retake Tikrit from ISIS this week, enjoying U.S. air support for sorties and Iranian strategic advice on the ground. To Netanyahu, the struggle between Iran and ISIS is a "deadly game of thrones" over which one would represent militant Islam.

Netanyahu's primary stated goal before Congress was to argue against a deal being negotiated between the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France, Germany, and Iran over the latter's nuclear program. Netanyahu insisted he wasn't revealing any secret information—and did not appear that—but that most of what he was talking about was just a Google search away.

According to Netanyahu, the potential deal with Iran would not require any nuclear facility to be demolished, leaving a short "break out" time for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if it chooses to—about a year, by design.  Netanyahu said he was also concerned because the restrictions on Iran's nuclear programs would be supervised by international inspectors. "Inspectors document violations," Netanyahu said, "they don't stop them," pointing to North Korea's work toward a nuclear weapon while inspectors were active in the country. Netanyahu also blasted the ten-year time frame envisioned for the deal, saying it may seem like a long time politically but that it was "a blink of an eye in the life of a nation… in the life of our children."

Netanyahu insisted a deal structured this way would pave, not block, the way for Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb, suggesting support for the deal hinged on either the assumption that the deal would lead to positive changes in Iran or that alternatives to the deal would be worse. Netanyahu disagreed, saying the deal "would spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world." He did not mention Israel's own nuclear weapons capabilities—the only country in the region believed to have nuclear weapons—or why those capabilities haven't already led to nuclear proliferation in a region where most of its neighbors consider it an enemy.

Netanyahu said Israel could "literally" live with a deal that it opposed that was better than the one described in press reports. He insisted a deal ought to require Iran to stop its aggressive foreign policy against its neighbors in the Middle East, a vague assertion because it was not a reference to Iran's sponsorship of terrorist organizations in the region—that was a separate demanded pre-condition for a deal. Netanyahu also demanded Iran stop threatening to annihilate Israel before any deal is reached. Netanyahu advised members of Congress, some of whom, Republican and Democrat, have been skeptical of the Iran negotiations, that Iran's threats to walk away from negotiations was a bluff the U.S. should call Iran on.

Netanyahu concluded by pointing to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who was in the gallery, and pledging that "the days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal threats" was over and that "even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand." Israel has run bombing operations in neighboring countries to stop weapons programs before. In the 1980s Israel bombed a nuclear facility in Iraq and it's believed to be responsible for several aerial sorties against weapons facilities in Syria.

As Netanyahu acknowledged at the beginning of his speech, the U.S. has been a huge source of military support for Israel. As one of the most prosperous countries in the region and the world, Israel could certainly cover all of its military and other expenditures, without aid from the U.S. That aid, theoretically, prevents Israel from conducting its foreign policy the way it wants to. Absent aid would Israel have already struck against Iran's nuclear capabilities? It's hard to tell. Today's speech was as much about convincing on-the-fence members of Congress to be more skeptical of a deal as it was in convincing Israeli voters back at home that they should re-elect him to keep leading the country as it faces what he insists is an existential threat. And in that case, it's a far less costly move than actually starting a war for some political capital.

Watch the whole speech here.

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  1. Netanyahu insisted a deal structured this way wouldn’t pave, not block, the way for Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb

    Ed, is that what you meant to write?

    1. phantom correction

  2. Netanyahu also demanded Iran stop threatening to annihilate Israel before any deal is reached.

    Bibi, always taking the hard line in these things..

    1. I have been repeatedly assured that Iran’s repeated rhetoric concerning bombing Israel into oblivion is merely a strong metaphor, in the same vein as Khrushchev’s Mi vas pokhoronim!”, that doesn’t translate well from the original Farsi into either English or Hebrew.

      So, I don’t get what’s all the hub-bub about.

      1. I used to have an aunt with a tattooed number on her arm. She was fond of saying, “When someone says he wants to kill you, believe him.”

        1. Then why didn’t he kill you already? It doesn’t make sense to warn somebody; just kill them. Now.

          1. Who says Nazis or Iranian Council of Guardians or ISIS or whomever make sense? They do tell of their intentions rather forcefully, however.

  3. The dumb bastard just shattered the pro-Israel unity in Congress. AIPAC spent decades trying to get things that way and now look at how quickly it was undone.

    1. When you’re faced with the choice that he is faced with, you do what you can.

      Frankly, a bit more independence from the US would be in his interest anyway.

    2. Well, let me ask a simple question, then. If Congress’s “unity” can shattered by an invitation to give a speech, how real was it? If a sizable portion of Congress is willing to sign off on a deal with someone committed to your country’s destruction, what’s that “pro-Israel unity” worth?

    3. Which dumb bastard? Bibi, or Obama?

    4. Yea, I’m gonna go with “exposed” the lack of unity rather than “shattered”.

      Democrats seem to have been drifting away from Israel for at least a decade.

    5. Shattered?
      Seems there were a lot more people standing and clapping/cheering, then sitting on their hands….oh, wait, one of those “sitters” was Rand.

    6. how pro-Israel can they be if they are going to watch Iran obtain nukes?

  4. “I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.”- Nancy Pelosi.


  5. He sought to connect the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

    Right. Because Sunnis and Shiites have gotten along swimmingly over the centuries; it’s not like the extremely doctrinaire ISIS considers Shiites heretics deserving of slavery and/or beheading or anything uncompromising like that.

    I’m sure Bibi knows the difference between the two major sects of Islam and their history of bloodshed; he’s hoping the idiots in Congress do not know (or, more likely, do not care).

    1. The Middle East is not as simplistic as Sunni vs. Shia. Those who believe this are the blind ones, not Bibi or Congress. Iran has long given sanctuary and transit ability to Sunni Al Qaeda, including senior Al Qaeda operatives. Sudan, a Sunni nation, has long been an ally of Iran. The Iranian terrorist ally, Hamas, is a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.

      Our foolish Iraq policy has made the US more dependent on Iran. We now have the Iraqi opposition to ISIS fighting under an Iranian general – a general who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. At the same time, we have US troops in country fighting the same enemy.

      Also, there is reason to believe that Iran is not unhappy with ISIS. Alawite Assad, Iran’s proxy, has focused his attacks on moderate Syrian rebels, while sparing Sunni ISIS. This cannot be an accident. ISIS has driven Iraqi Shiite Arabs firmly into Iran’s arms. And… don’t forget that Arab vs. Persian is just as important as Shia vs. Sunni, so forcing Iraqi Arabs to ally with Iranian Persians is very useful to Iran.

      Iran may be run by Shia lunatics, but that doesn’t mean they don’t ally with Sunnis. They are chess players and are looking at the long game.

      1. Damn hard to tell the terrorists from the freedom fighters ain’t it? Ah well, who’s got oil?

    2. He explicitly mentioned that they were merely variants under the larger umbrella of Islamism.

      I’ve heard the whole “OMgz-don’t-you-know-Shia-and- Sunnis-hate-each-other? -Listen-to-NPR-duh!” for years now, and never put any stock in it. When you’re faced with a sufficiently powerful enemy, it’s commonsensical that you might forge temporary alliances with former foes in order to eliminate the larger threat. We made an alliance with The Soviets in WWII. Do you doubt Iran would cooperate with even, say, Israel if they knew they could strike at the U.S. with certain impunity?

      Holding the idea that anti-american organizations would never cooperate, due to ideological divides — look at the ideologies of N Korea and Iran, for example — in order to thwart US interests displays a lack of imagination and a failure to grasp how the real world works.

      1. Dammit. Just saw Mesoman already beat me to my point.

  6. Glenn Reynolds considers the optics of the thing:

    TWO THINGS PEOPLE ARE MISSING ABOUT NETANYAHU’S SPEECH: (1) He didn’t just make a case for why the U.S. should be harder on Iran. He made the case for unilateral Israeli military intervention too, sub silentio. (2) The most damaging thing to Obama here isn’t even the substance, but the contrast in style. Netanyahu, as someone said on Twitter, was better in his second language than Obama is in his first. And he presented himself as a leader who cares about his country, rather than one, like Obama, who makes excuses for its enemies.


    1. Yawn. I’m sure he thinks Putin is a stronger leader than Obama too. Just what America needs, a strong leader.

      1. Optically, certainly. Not that he wants to live under Putin.

        A lot of people are going to see what he points out. Some will weep in outrage, ala Pelosi, some will grasp at this as a handy club with which to bash the Lightworker, etc.

        1. Yeah, I’ve seen this being spun by commenters as “Netanyahu is loud, simplistic, obnoxious, and odious, like the conservatives; whereas Obama Lincoln Jesus is calmly and coolly handling it all in his own way, much cleverer and able to see through Netanyahu’s deception and simplistic worldview.”

  7. “You cannot negotiate with Iran. That is what they told us for years. The Iranian leadership is too fanatical, they are not rational actors, they are “not like us.” One US official even recently said that deception is part of the Iranian DNA…Congress, however, is once again far behind the American people… A better US relationship with Iran may signal the beginning of the end of US meddling in the region and serve as an incentive for Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf States to solve their problems themselves.”


    Many commenters here, as well Congress, are behind the American people AND Ron Paul.

    1. You can negotiate with Iran, or anyone else for that matter. The issue is, can you get them to agree to something like you want instead of everything they want.

      1. Of course that is true. But you give those negotiations a chance. The alternative is clear…war, and Ron Paul understands that.

        For all the talk of misbegotten military excursions by the US in the Mideast, it seems real foolish to claim all negotiations are misbegotten before they have had a chance to conclude.

        1. Negotiations have been going on for years with no discernible effect other than to buy the Mullahs time to do whatever they want.

          1. No they haven’t. This is the first time Iran is negotiating an end any attempt they may or may not be making toward a nuclear weapon.

            1. They are negotiating no such thing.

              They are negotiating a moratorium on certain bomb-friendly activities.

              Even assuming they comply with the moratorium, it will have an expiration date.

              This isn’t about “never”. This is about “how long until”.

              1. Of course they are. The fact that there is a timetable doesn’t negate the fact that they would then be doing away with further current attempts at making a nuclear weapon. There isn’t any negotiated deal anywhere that isn’t subject to one party saying, “You know, we don’t like the original deal.”

                1. Jack, there is a fundamental difference between saying “We won’t do this, ever.” and “We’ll do this, starting in X years.”

        2. The alternative is clear…war,

          I think there are a few more alternatives than that.

          1. The only alternative is to leave things as they are, and both the GOP and Bibi are telling you that is war. Unless of course you don’t think Israel bombing Iran would not result in a war….one that we surely would be part of.

            1. The only alternative is to leave things as they are

              So an Iran with no WMD and no closer to being able to make one than it had 20 years ago?

              1. We are where we are…Iran, according to most in the GOP and Israel, is making attempts at building a nuclear weapon. Period. That is where we are.

                They both are telling you that we are headed toward war.

                1. I guess their contractor stock must be going down and need to stir up something to get some new contracts going. I don’t think the GOP or Israel are seriously considering a real war with Iran.

                  1. I hope you are right.

      2. Sure, you can negotiate with anybody.

        The question really is, can you do a deal with them? On what terms, and with what assurances?

        The “can’t negotiate with Iran” position basically boils down to the conclusion that there is no acceptable deal to be made.

        If you are willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran, then sure, there’s a deal to be made. And that’s the premise, I believe, of Obama’s new round of negotiations. That Iran going nuclear is either inevitable, or even desirable (and I wouldn’t rule out the latter, as Obama’s middle east policy has “evolved” to the point where he needs Iran to succeed, as they are the only ones who can beat ISIS).

        1. You don’t know whether or not you can do a deal until the negotiations are over, and a deal is made or its not made.

          Its really that simple. The whole point of sanctions in the first place was to force a negotiation. And we have achieved that. If no deal is made from those negotiations, the sanctions will still be there, and things will proceed as they would have anyway.

          It would seem prudent to give those negotiations every chance to succeed, rather than to simply accept the alternative.

          1. You don’t know whether or not you can do a deal until the negotiations are over,

            I can assure you this is not true.

            You can’t negotiate with someone you can’t trust or can’t enforce the deal against.

            You can’t negotiate with someone whose fundamental goals are opposed to yours.

            Example: I work for a hospital that is an acquisition target. Most of the big systems will only talk to us about being bought. We don’t want to be bought. Our fundamental goals are opposed to theirs. There is no point in negotiating. We know already that negotiations will not and cannot lead to a deal we can do, and we don’t need to go through the process to discover this.

            1. Here is what Netanyahu is telling you: Iran is maniacal and intent on building a nuclear weapon, and then destroying Israel.

              His suggestion is to stop the negotiations, and then wait and see what those genocidal maniacs will do.

              No wonder Ron Paul is calling it insanity.

              1. Here is what Netanyahu is telling you: Iran is maniacal and intent on building a nuclear weapon, and then destroying Israel.

                Given that the Iranian government has stated that destroying Israel is a goal, that’s not an unreasonable assumption on his part.

              2. No; that’s not what he’s telling everyone.

                He’s saying “a bad deal is worse than no deal.” That doesn’t rule out “getting a good deal, or at least a deal that is not bad.” A good deal would be superior to no deal, and no deal is better than a bad deal.

                Disagree all you want with his actual position, but at least present it fairly.

          2. You don’t know whether or not you can do a deal until the negotiations are over, and a deal is made or its not made.

            That’s not really true. For any parties in a negotiation, each has an acceptable range of outcomes. To the extent those ranges overlap, there can be a viable negotiation. However, if there isn’t an overlap in those ranges, any attempt at negotiation is going to prove futile and any negotiated settlement will likely fall apart.

            1. Well, at least Ron Paul and I think there are acceptable ranges for both Iran and the US. Iran clearly would have the same guidelines and they entered into negotiations.

              1. And what do you consider a worst acceptable outcome?

        2. If you are willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran

          There is no evidence that Iran is working on a bomb.

          1. Other than their insistence on nuclear technology that goes beyond what they need to do what they say they want (which I believe they could get without dual-use technology) and into the bomb-making “dual use” zone.

          2. Just like that time there was no evidence that Pakistan and India were making atomic weapons, right?

            1. Were they signatories to the NPT and under IAEA monitoring?

              1. North Korea and South Africa were NPT signatories, I believe. They both developed nukes.

                As for IAEA monitoring, I remain to be convinced that it can be any more effective than the target country wants it to be. As a means of confirming that you have no program, when you really don’t, sure. As a means of preventing a program that you really want, eh.

  8. Having heard the entire speech, everything said was succinct and true. Anyone having trouble with what was said, get the Hell out of my country. You are breathtakingly ignorant, weak and dangerous.

    1. Ron Paul must be buying his airline tickets.

    2. Did the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge come in the same cereal box as the deed to Your Country?

      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. And fuck off to you, sphincter.

        You want to allow Islam/Muslim animals rape your daughter and stick a fork in the neck of your mother, go right ahead.

        Just get the fuck out of here and take your pussy ways with you.

        Fucking coward.

        1. Tell me more where this horde of animals is coming from.

  9. Admittedly, if I were Iranian government right now, I’d be taking a look at the outcome of other nations giving up their WMDs/WMD programs due to American pressure/support (Libya, Ukraine) and realizing that maybe, just maybe, it might not be the best way to remain in power. That combined with recent American foreign policy in my next door neighbour and the on and off saber rattling would also make me nervous. There’s plenty of ‘rational’ reasons as to why Iran would be unwilling to stop their nuclear program.

    1. Iran has no WMD to give up.

      1. I’m aware, I’m saying that as Iran it wouldn’t be in my best interest to give up my program to make them.

      2. But WMD program? Or the option to develop one in the future?

        1. Iran does not have a WMD program, at least according to the US intelligence community.

          1. I hate the WMD thing. It’s Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC). And they have a nuclear program.

            1. What I hate is when I see criminal charges of “Using a Weapon of Mass Destruction.” Ummm…. a fucking pipe bomb is not a WMD. It just reeks of some dumbass politician incorporating a term he heard that sounded cool to him, and putting it into legislation.


      3. Be careful about overstating things. Iran does have chemical weapons (although one can argue as to whether “chemical weapons” are properly classifiable as “weapons of mass destruction”).

        1. Chemical weapons do not cause mass destruction. Really, there is only one major category of WMD and that’s nuclear. Maybe you can throw a really big bomb like a MOAB in there, but those are nothing compared to nukes.

          1. “those are nothing compared to nukes.”

            Biological weapons can be far more destructive than nukes – if they use contagious agents. End-times cults like Iran might even use them, since the deaths of millions are foretold anyway.

    2. Remember the good old days when Iranians and Iraqis (Saddam) were preoccupied with killing one another by the millions?

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  11. You Rhoemites are licking your chops at the thought of Iran nuking Israel and doing another holocuast (which you would only deny as you do the first one); however, the final chapter has not yet been played. Iran is not only thinking about hitting Israel or, perhaps, even hitting Israel first.

    1. I think you missed a link to a website somewhere. No holocaust deniers here.

      1. I think his chain of thought probably goes something like:

        ” They’re libertarians. Libertarian = sort of a conservative = conservative = sort of like a nazi = nazi = neo-nazi Holocaust denier.”

        HuffPo Psychology in a nutshell.

  12. Here’s what I’d do:

    Take Israel off the leash, and off US welfare. Make it very clear that they can do what they deem necessary for their national security.

    And . . . that’s it. If they want to take Iran at its word and respond accordingly, that’s on them.

    I’m toying with a “second strike” doctrine: the first country to use nuclear weapons will get a retaliatory strike from the US. Need to think that one through, but since nonproliferation isn’t a viable option any more, maybe our best option is to ramp up deterrence.

    1. I doubt Obama would retaliate with nukes after a nuclear attack on American soil. No way he does it for an attack anywhere else.

      1. African Profiles in Courage are not exactly well known.

      2. I was wondering about this the other day. Apparently, in the late 70’s, the Soviets were seriously wondering if Carter would respond with nukes in the event of a Soviet first strike, and betting against it. Obama seems much like Carter: alienating our allies, dealing with hostile regimes with kid gloves, and making weak gestures in response to repeated provocations.

        It’s one thing to favor a noninterventionist policy — it’s another play word games and stand by meekly while ever more of the world catches fire.

    2. Why hasn’t Pakistan nuked Israel by now? Do Pakistanis hate Jews any less than Iranians? We know that individual suicide bombers go to heaven for certain rewards, but would an entire suicidal country get in en mass? Do Iran’s threats differ from the typical vitriol found at any time on Disqus? North Korea threatens to nuke the world daily. Are they any crazier than the Iranians?

      1. Because Pakistan’s strongmen are on the US taxpayer’s teats? And are the only ones keeping the barbarians at the gates?

        Ugh… not a pretty thought, though. As soon as the first Islamist nutjobs put up enough pressure to topple the government there, Obama will no doubt speak out in favor of “reform” and Kerry will declare another resounding Administration success.

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  14. Iran? I have a new argument. Nuke ’em til they glow in the dark.

  15. And we saw Rand Paul’s unenthusiastic response to the speech, which will be another mark against any future leadership quest by him.

    1. Didn’t see that, but glad to hear it – he and Amash should have boycotted it. Loudly.

  16. My eyes rolled back in my head when Netanyahu brought out the 2,500 year old story of Esther proving that Persians can’t be trusted and are inherently evil.

    Paul Bunyan and Blue created the Grand Canyon by playing around. Lumberjacks can’t be trusted.

  17. Why hasn’t Pakistan nuked Israel by now? Do Pakistanis hate Jews any less than Iranians? We know that individual suicide bombers go to heaven for certain rewards, but would an entire suicidal country get in en mass? Do Iran’s threats differ from the typical vitriol found at any time on Disqus? North Korea threatens to nuke the world daily. Are they any less crazy than the Iranians?

    Somebody – help me…

  18. My God! A real leader speaks to this house of fools. What a contrast with our “community leader”.

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  20. For the life of me I cannot understand how anyone can argue that Israel is not at risk if Iran gets nuclear weapons. Iran has made it crystal clear on multiple occasions that the elimination of Israel as a country is their top priority. In addition, they are the number one exporter of terrorism. All of this aside, those of you who think Israel is bluffing need to wake up and fast. Yes, Israel has nuclear weapons. In addition if they are ever required to use them, the policy that controls them is called the Sansom Option. It is not an acronym but a reference to Sansom in the old Testament. In a nutshell, if Israel is attacked and their destruction is imminent, like Sansom they will destroy EVERYONE around them. In other words, they will nuke the entire middle east. Since Iran has made it clear, the moment they have a bomb they will use it on Israel, this is a probable if not certain future. Do not kid yourself and pretend Iran is blowing smoke. The war in the middle east is a religious war that has been waged for over 2000 years. The Sunni and Shiites have been at war for over 1000 and yet we are puzzled about their fighting because they are both Muslims. Remember Catholics and Protestants are both Christian sects yet they have been killing each other in Northern Ireland since the 1600s. Religion and nuclear weapons do not mix and that is the only reason Iran must never have the bomb.

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