In 2002, then-President George W. Bush alienated Iran in nuclear talks after the expiration of an eight-year agreement constructed by the Clinton administration. “States like [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] and their terrorist allies,” Bush explained in his 2002 State of the Union address, “constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.” Iran’s response to the alienation? Pursuit of nuclear capabilities.
By the end of 2007, Iran was operating almost 4,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium fuel. The IAEA reported that they had 1,390 pounds of low-enriched uranium by Nov. 2008, enough for one nuclear weapon capable of travelling 1,300 miles – long enough to reach Israel and Eastern Europe. Under Clinton’s deal, Iran possessed exactly zero centrifuges and zero pounds of low-enriched uranium. Bush’s maneuver left them with the capability to construct a nuclear weapon six years later.
Back to 2002 and Bush’s speech. Bush decided to invade Iraq later that year, and soon after the State of the Union expressed that action against Iraq was imminent, citing their harboring of “weapons of mass destruction” and support of Al-Qaeda. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Bush’s decision, six months before the eventual bombardment of Baghdad. “I think the choice of Iraq is a good choice, it’s the right choice,” Netanyahu said. “It’s not a question of whether Iraq’s regime should be taken out but when should it be taken out; it’s not a question of whether you’d like to see a regime change in Iran but how to achieve it.”
13 years later, we look back in shame. Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein was not harboring Osama Bin Laden and his supporters. It was a move that destabilized an otherwise stable region since the First Gulf War, and the Middle East is still seeing the aftermath of Bush’s decisions, with Sunni extremist groups like the Islamic State rising to prominence after being marginalized and alienated by the Shiite regime Bush’s administration put in power after taking Baghdad.
13 years later, we not only look back in shame, but apparently look to repeat our previous mistakes. Netanyahu is taking shots at Iran again.
“Iran and [the Islamic State] are competing for the crown of militant Islam,” he says in his ill-advised speech to Congress on Mar. 3. “One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State.”
Aside from Bibi’s innate ability to detect subtle differences in the names of Shiite-led countries and a Sunni extremist groups, he’s absolutely, unequivocally out of line. To not be able to identify the clear differences between ISIS and the Republic of Iran – outside of, of course, the fact that one of them is aerially bombarding the other daily as part of a worldwide coalition – is either hilariously irresponsible for just mindlessly supporting a flawed conservative agenda.
First off, considering Netanyahu vocally supported invading Iraq on entirely false premises and throwing trillions of dollars down the drain to accomplish essentially nothing, why should the American people trust him again? Secondly, ignoring his judgement of the situation in Iraq, how can anyone support repeating the same mistakes that have led to the stale US-Iranian relationship that actually provided Iran with nuclear capabilities?
If Netanyahu is really as worried as he says he is about Iran using its nuclear abilities to destroy Israel, he’d support negotiating a deal. After all, which Israeli approach is more likely to cause Iran to go rogue and drop nuclear bombs?
- Alienating them and labeling them as evil in spite of their significant nuclear capabilities
- Sitting at a table and building a trusting relationship with them over time
Any reasonable person would pick option B, but Netanyahu apparently sees it differently. He is unreasonably contentious by nature, and his solutions to most issues have been to flaunt his military power and stand with an iron fist against any and all who disagree with him. It’s worked in his favor so far to keep Israel afloat, but such a tactic is bound to fail in the near future. And for Boehner to invite Netanyahu without the President’s consent is a disgrace, as is the Israeli Prime Minister’s acceptance of the invitation – he seems intent on hurting one of the only international working relationships Israel still has left after bombing Hamas, and collaterally Gaza, into oblivion last summer.
What good are mistakes if we don’t learn from them? That wrongful attitude what Netanyahu is wrongfully suggesting, and the GOP’s support of his narrow view can and will prove highly detrimental to world peace.