Bibi’s Folly: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran’s Nuclear Program and Wagging the Dog

On April 29, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Tel Aviv with much of the publicly released conversation regarding Iran and its alleged unceasing pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Here is a quote from Mr. Netanyahu:

Mr. Secretary, I think the greatest threat to the world and to our two countries and to all countries is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically, the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We’ve had a very productive talk today on this subject as well. I appreciate the President’s leadership and your position on stopping Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. I appreciate the President’s and your position on stopping Iran’s aggression in the region. That aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened, and Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other. Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped. And we’re committed to stopping it together.” (my bold)

Here is part of the response from Mr. Pompeo:

Many of our conversations today, Mr. Prime Minister, as you said, centered on Iran. Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.

Regarding the JCPOA, President Trump’s been pretty clear. This deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can’t fix it, he’s going to withdraw from the deal. It’s pretty straightforward. Unlike the past administration, President Trump has a comprehensive Iran strategy that is designed to counter the full array of threats emanating from Tehran.

As part of the President’s comprehensive Iran strategy, we are also working to counter the broad set of non-nuclear threats: Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hizballah, the importation of thousands of proxy fighters into Syria, and its assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence.” (my bold)

As though this meeting weren’t enough, Netanyahu doubled down and went on the offensive once again on April 30, 2018 revealing Iran’s “secret atomic archive” and its “secret nuclear archives” as you can see on this must watch video which was recorded during a news conference held at Israel’s Ministry of Defense:

Mr. Netanyahu claims that Iran lied “big time” (note the massive graphic stating just that at the 1 minute 18 second mark of the video) about its nuclear weapons programs in 2015 and moved its nuclear program to a highly secret location in the Shorabad district of Tehran, placing the files in a “dilapidated warehouse”.  Israel claims that, a few weeks ago, they obtained half a ton of material from these vaults which contained 55,000 pages and 55,000 files on 183 CDs.  These files included incriminating files, photos, charts, videos and more that have now been shared with the United States. Israel plans to share this material with the International Atomic Energy Agency as well.  According to Israel, Iran’s Project Amad had the goal of developing, producing and testing 5 warheads, each with a 10 kiloton TNT yield for integration on a missile.

Now, if you were thinking that some of this sounds familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong.  Here is the same Benjamin Netanyahu, then a mere Israeli citizen, appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on the Policy Toward Iraq in September 2002:

Here is a partial transcript of his remarks:

“...there was no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons, no question whatsoever…and today, the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.  And make no mistake about it, if and once Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons, the terror network will have nuclear weapons.

Two decades ago, it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation, but today, nothing less than dismantling his regime will do because Saddam’s nuclear program is fundamentally changed in those two decades.  He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs.  He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country and I want to remind you that  Iraq is a very big country.  It is not the size of Monte Carlo.  It is a big country.  And I believe that even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death.” (my bold)

And, of course, you will remember how many weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after the coalition invasion of 2003?  That’s right, none whatsoever.  With Bibi, it’s almost like history is repeating itself, isn’t it?

Now, let’s get to the “Wag the Dog” reference in the title of this posting.  In case you missed it, “Wag the Dog” was a 1997 black comedy about how Washington used a spin doctor and a Hollywood producer to take the public’s attention away from a sex scandal that was plaguing the President of the United States less than two weeks before an election.  The Hollywood producer created a fictional war in Albania, hoping that voters would concentrate on war rather than the Presidential sex scandal.  Interestingly, as you might suspect by now, there is a “Wag the Dog” component to the Netanyahu saga.  Here’s a bit of very recent news from the Jerusalem Post about Bibi that we have heard very little about from the mainstream media in the West:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign from office, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said at a cultural event in Netanyahu Saturday.

From a public standpoint, Netanyahu has to resign today and immediately,” Ya’alon said. “The time has come for Israelis to be led by a prime minister who has not been investigated for anything.

Netanyahu is currently under investigation on suspicion of corruption offenses involving allegedly accepting gifts above the permissible amount and colluding with the publisher of Yediot Aharonot against Yisrael Hayom. In addition, several of his senior aides are under investigation, with some turning state’s witness.

Ya’alon resigned from the government and Knesset in 2016, citing a “lack of faith” in Netanyahu, after the prime minister gave the defense portfolio to Avigdor Liberman. He has said he plans to run for the next Knesset, but not in the Likud.

People don’t realize how much corruption hurts every one of us,” Ya’alon stated. “I say with sadness that we have become a country that was corrupted by politicians.”

“Think about what could have been done with 2 billion Euros instead of going to a deal for [submarines] that we don’t need,” he added, referring to allegations of officials accepting bribes in relation to the purchase of submarines from a German company.

Here’s the Guardian on Netanyahu:

Israeli police questioned Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife on Friday as part of a corruption investigation involving the country’s largest telecom firm, local media reported, the third such scandal to engulf the prime minister.

Known as Case 4,000, the investigation centres around allegations that the owners of Bezeq Israel Telecom provided positive coverage of the Netanyahus on a news website in return for regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Bezeq has denied wrongdoing, and Netanyahu has not been named as suspect in the case. Police confirmed the Netanyahus had been questioned for several hours as part of an investigation, but did not specify which one.

Channel 10 TV showed footage on Friday of police entering Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. His wife, Sara, was being questioned at the same time in Tel Aviv, according to her lawyer.

The reports throw a cloud above Netanyahu’s planned visit to Washington next week, where he will meet Donald Trump and give a speech to the pro-Israel lobby Aipac.

Pressure has been piling on the 68-year-old leader, whose rightwing politics have dominated Israel for a generation. Last month, police recommended Israel’s attorney general indict him in two separate bribery investigations, one of which also relates to gifts in exchange for favourable media reports.

That development, along with the arrest of high-level members of his inner circle, poses a serious threat to the country’s second-longest serving prime minister, who has held office for four terms.(my bold)

Lastly, here’s what the Israeli “man in the street” has to say about Bibi:

If you want more on the Israeli anti-Netanyahu movement and the weekly “March of Shame”, try this link as well.

So, let’s put this all together.  Given that Mr. Netanyahu has a bad track record when it comes to predicting the abilities of Israel’s enemies (i.e Iraq) to create an atomic weapon and the fact that he is facing a “Wag the Dog” moment in Israel because of very significant allegations of personal corruption, isn’t it possible that Bibi is simply trying to goad the Americans into starting a war with Iran just to deflect from his own homegrown troubles with the law?  Let’s hope that saner heads prevail in Washington….but I wouldn’t count on it given Mike Pompeo’s response to Mr. Netanyahu about the Iranian issue during his recent state visit to Israel.  I’m guessing that reality is not part of Washington’s narrative when it comes to Iran and Israel, it’s worst and best friends in the Middle East and that we will be dragged into Bibi’s folly. 

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