US Analysts: Netanyahu crossing the line with Obama

Adding to a central point of David Remnick’s article in the New Yorker earlier this week — that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone too far with his pressure campaign against President Barak Obama and alienated allies in the process — are additional arguments in the National Interest, the National Journal (print edition), Al-Monitor and the Atlantic:

Paul Pillar explains how “Netanyahu’s Arrogance” may contribute to the reshaping of US-Israel relations:

Maybe Netanyahu’s arrogance, greater than the norm even for Israeli prime ministers dealing with the United States, may be a force that eventually reshapes the relationship. It can do so by making it painfully clear to Americans what they are dealing with. M. J. Rosenberg evidently is talking about this when he goes so far as to say that Netanyahu “poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.” He is referring to the damage being done to the relations with the superpower patron—that “all Netanyahu is accomplishing with his ugly saber-rattling is threatening the survival of the US-Israel relationship.” That may well be the effect of Netanyahu’s behavior on the relationship, but perhaps we should not speak of this in terms of threats. Replacing the current pathological relationship with a more normal one certainly would be good for U.S. interests. Ultimately, however, it also would be good for the interests of Israel, which, in order to get off its current path of endless conflict and isolation, desperately needs the sort of tough love that it is not getting now.

James Kitfield argues that “by inserting himself into a U.S. presidential election, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has jeopardized the long-term health of the alliance”:

But more important, this pressure on a U.S. president waging a tough reelection campaign all but guarantees that the enmity between Obama and Netanyahu will only worsen, to the point where they, like Shamir and Bush, may not talk frankly or show their true cards. What if one country wants to strike and other isn’t ready? What if one country strikes and then both need to coordinate the aftermath? If the leaders aren’t on the same page, their countries aren’t likely to be either. Netanyahu’s gambit has lowered trust when the stakes–war and a nuclear-armed rogue–are highest.

Barbara Slavin says Netanyahu’s misreading of US attitudes is harming his own strategy:

Recent polls show that 70% of the American people do not think it is worth attacking Iran to try to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons — and a majority would not join an Israeli strike against Iran. For someone partly raised and educated in the United States, the Israeli prime minister is profoundly misreading the American mood.

Instead of pushing the US government to agree to “red lines” beyond which Iran cannot cross, Netanyahu is alienating US officials and many other Americans — including those who count themselves pro-Israel. The Israeli prime minister is repeating a pattern of ill-considered behavior that made the administration of Bill Clinton so furious at him that Clinton’s campaign advisers eagerly went to Israel in 1999 to work for Netanyahu’s then political rival, Ehud Barak.

And while being less daring than the others, even Jeffrey Goldberg is trying to explain why Netanyahu is taking the risk of “alienating” Obama:

So why risk alienating the man who he believes will probably be president until January of 2017? Because Netanyahu genuinely believes that Obama, at the crucial moment (whether it is this year, next year or the year after), will flinch and allow Iran to cross the nuclear threshold. This is why he is pestering the President for red lines. I’ll get into the red line discussion later, but the nub of the issue now is Netanyahu’s view of Obama.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.


One Comment

  1. support for israel is 2000 miles wide and 1/2 inch deep; remember that Bibi the clown

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