The Boehner invitation to President Netanyahu and the GOP senators’ open letter to the Iranian Supreme Leader are explained by Les Gelb as a group of legislators who hate President Obama more than they love America. “Traitors!” screams a tabloid. “Tehran Tom” becomes a label in search of glue. Unprecedented behavior – except that it’s not.
Steve Hayes, along with others, identifies four instances in recent history where equivalent, if not worse, transgressions were made from the other side of the political divide. The only consistent themes are hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty, or a terminal failure of memory. Compared to what has come before, Cotton’s letter seems benign, indeed lacking the secrecy of some previous attempts at ad hoc diplomacy.
The likelihood is that a significant number of legislators, on both sides of the aisle, are justifiably afraid of a weak deal with Iran. Moderate Democrats cannot be looking forward to carrying water for a deal that may well be an albatross in 20 months, come election time. This deal, assuming it comes in on time, could be a very heavy lame duck for Democrats to carry around. Republicans and Democrats alike fear what we know of the deal, if perhaps for different reasons. Politics, or national security?
What we know of the history covers a decade of perpetual “negotiations”; Iranian dissembling, lies and secret facilities as the Iranian-supported terror network expanded geometrically. What we know of the deal? Ten year window; no significant restrictions on enrichment; no restrictions on missile technology; the arrogance of a preemptive declaration of victory by Tehran.
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Some in the Senate who know Secretary Kerry well, and those who have followed him, worry that Kerry may be more interested in his Nobel Peace Prize nomination than in uncompromising defense of U.S. and Middle Eastern security. Kerry’s record on issues of national defense is a justifiable cause for concern, as he consistently opposed most of what are now “go to” aspects of military preparedness and capabilities.
With due respect to Mr. Gelb, the motivation for Netanyahu’s speech and Tom Cotton’s letter is not hate for Obama. The motivation is fear for American, Israeli and Middle Eastern security. Iran with a bomb facilitated by the United States is the nightmare scenario. The motivation is provided by a president who insists on going it alone, without advice or consent; who refuses to move outside a small cadre of advisors who have demonstrated a proclivity for domestic politics over national security – and little experience on the world stage.
The president appears to be in search of a legacy accomplishment; he should understand that legacies come in two flavors, and are not judged by the politics of the moment but by the harsh eye of history. Churchill spent a decade in the political wilderness, derided as a fear monger, out of touch with the subtleties of the times; crying wolf over an ascendant Germany and the absence of a commitment to British defense. Today, we cry out, looking for the “next Churchill.” What are we looking for? Strength, vision, and the capacity to engender a sense of unity, to rise above self-interested banality in the national interest.
We wish for that which is absent.