It’s been a rough few weeks in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come and gone, leaving behind in his wake a stream of petulant objections: Should he or should he not have been invited by partisan Republicans to address the US Congress concerning Iran’s machinations in the Middle East? Democrats in the Congress, we are to understand, are never partisan. One wonders, what is the point in having a party if its members are not permitted to be partisan?
Appearing on Morning Joe shortly after Mr. Netanyahu’s address, US Senator Dick Blumenthal allowed that although the invitation itself was inappropriate, he never-the-less had decided not to boycott Mr. Netanyahu, because Israel and the United States traditionally have been allies. This was a grown-up view of interpersonal relations. Why should a longstanding relationship between two countries fall victim to personal pique? Mr. Blumenthal noted that there was some disagreement as to whether the White House had been advised of the invitation. It had.
To Netanyahu’s assertion that any deal between the US and Iran that would leave in place Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons would be a “bad deal,” Mr. Obama frigidly replied that this determination must await a signed agreement. Even though the provisional agreement has not been submitted to Congress, Mr. Obama has suggested, it would still be binding on the country once the deal has been affirmed by the United Nations. No one yet has asked any of the members of Connecticut’s all Democratic US Congressional Delegation how they feel about a diplomatic hopscotch that dispenses with Constitutional prescriptions. The US Congress is constitutionally obligated to consent to international treaties: No consent, no treaty.
Mr. Obama has strongly hinted that he need not present the deal to the Congress for affirmation, presumably because the agreement is not a treaty, though it certainly is treaty-like. Some have pointed out that any private arrangement between Mr. Obama and – ultimately -- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei rests on shifting sands, because even public deals affirmed by Mr. Khamenei are provisional. The Koran permits leaders like Mr. Khamenei to lie to non-Muslims in order to advance Koranic prime directives, which include deceiving or killing agents of “the Great Satan.”
The leadership in Iran has had a hate-on for America ever since Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, King of Iran from 1941 through 1979, was overthrown by hotheaded Islamic revolutionists. Asked recently whether the “Hate America” doctrine was still in force now that Iran was negotiating an agreement with The Great Satan, Mr. Khamenei is reported to have said – of course “Death to America,” a patriotic outcropping that may have disappointed but certainly did not dampen either Mr. Kerry or Mr. Obama’s eagerness to strike a deal at any cost with Iran. Mr. Kerry, who once threw some military metals – though not his own – over the White House fence in protest of the Vietnam War, continues to be every bit as hopeful as Mr. Netanyahu is doubtful that the deal struck with Iran will leave the world a safer and merrier place.
When some upstart Republicans notified Iran indirectly that any deal not submitted to the Congress for approval necessarily would not be binding on Congress, they were roundly denounced as saboteurs of the mysterious agreement and fitted with dunce caps.
Ambrose Bierce once defined “diplomacy” as “the patriotic art of lying for one’s country,” and artful Iranian diplomatists certainly are patriotic. Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry, true internationalists, both have been accused of transcending patriotism, a rare high-wire act that in the past has involved lying TO one’s country. If war is – as Clausewitz said it was – “the continuation of politics by other means,” one or another of our internationalist leaders should take note that Iran in particular has outflanked the United States MILITARILY in the Middle East. For purposes of striking a deal with Iran, Mr. Obama has decoupled Iran’s promotion, though its agents, of a Shia-Sunni conflict in the Middle East and the questionable deal with Iran that supposedly would make it impossible for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The two are intimately connected. Iran or its surrogates now control virtually all the countries touching Saudi Arabia. Who wins the war determines the deal. The crescent of countries now surrounding Saudi Arabia – like Israel, traditionally friendly to the United States – bear the diplomatic impress of Iran, traditionally an enemy of the United States and a client state of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, also traditionally an enemy of the United States.
Mr. Obama’s unrealpolitik in the Middle East appears to be to treat friends as if they were enemies and enemies as if they were friends, all part of the internationalist art of lying TO one’s country. One wonders what Mr. Blumenthal really thinks about the new configuration in the Middle East, North Africa, Ukraine, the Baltic states, a disempowered NATO and Democrats in the Congress who smile wryly when Obama and his retinue gives them the Constitutional cold shoulder. Perhaps Morning Joe should ask him.