Friday, March 02, 2012

Netanyahu Comes Shopping

Israeli prime minister Benny Netanyahu is in town and his visit makes plain that he's not interested in friendly countries supporting Israel, it's their obedience he's after.

No problem with Steve Harper.  The radical fundamentalist religious right is already onside.   And when the radical fundamentalist religious rightwinger also happens to be prime minister, it's a matter of pushing on an open door.

Benny has a bit more arm twisting to do, however, when it comes to Barack Obama.   American presidents have been consistently spineless when it comes to Israel.   George H.W. Bush rankled a bit over being pushed around but his Congress soon put an end to that.

With 40% of the Republican base believed to be from the radical fundamentalist religious right, they've got the GOP tightly by the balls but they've also got plenty of Democrats wary of offending them, even courting their support.  Your chances of getting elected in the states today are pretty slim unless you profess to be Jewish or Christian and, if you're claiming Christian credentials, you had damned well better be solidly pro-Israel.

So Netanyahu has got that going for him and he's also got the advantage of election year pressure.   If the November election is close, and some predict it will be, a few points either way could be decisive.  

That gives Netanyahu enormous leverage over Obama and Bibi's a guy who never balks at treating American presidents as his bitches.   Why?  Because he can, because neither the American Congress nor many ordinary Americans will stand behind their president if he stands up for American interests over Israeli interests.   To many Americans they're indistinguishable.

If they were smart, the Americans would think twice about giving Netanyahu carte blanche.    Then again, if they were smart they wouldn't have bungled their hapless wars of choice in Iraq or Afghanistan either.   America isn't playing the same cards it held back in the good old days.  It's influence in the Middle East is waning and there are rivals, notably China, waiting in the wings to take advantage of that.  And the Middle East itself is going through a transformation with Turkey poised to become a dominant regional power.   The old Israeli-American paradigm has lost a lot of currency and both leaders should be wary about squandering what remains.


crispinfayol said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

The above comment was removed because it was a commercial solicitation.