Congressional Republicans who are trying to blow up US-European diplomacy with Iran would desperately like Americans to believe that they have some alternative besides war to the administration’s multilateral efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with Iran.
If any fair-minded man or woman who reads newspapers retains any doubt that this claim is fraudulent, let incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – whom congressional Republicans constantly invoke as their Supreme Guide on diplomacy with Iran – put these doubts to rest. (If the Jewish Daily Forward’s JJ Goldberg is correct in his handicapping of the Israeli election Tuesday, Netanyahu may not be Israeli Prime Minster for much longer.)
The New York Times reports:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Monday that as long as he is the leader, a Palestinian state would not be established, reversing his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What does this mean for Iran diplomacy? It means that the man whom congressional Republicans have been touting as their Supreme Guide on Iran diplomacy has just spectacularly exposed himself as a diplomacy fraud.
The cornerstone of international diplomacy to try to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict is that the endgame is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Netanyahu just moved to blow that up. He’s just told the world: If I am re-elected as Prime Minister, forget about a diplomatic resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. That’s what Netanyahu and the Tom Cotton Republicans want to do to multilateral diplomacy with Iran: blow it up.
It’s understandable how the Netanyahus and Cottons of the world came to see Iran diplomacy the way they do. Until now the world has mostly let Netanyahu get away with being a diplomacy faker in his dealings with the Palestinians. The Netanyahu formula has been: Pretend that you support a two-state solution to the conflict, negotiate in bad faith, blame the Palestinians if you can’t reach agreement.
So, perhaps it’s natural for Netanyahu and the Cotton 47 to think: Netanyahu has gotten away with fake diplomacy with the Palestinians, why can’t the US do fake diplomacy with Iran?
Even on the Israel-Palestine front, it’s far from obvious that the Netanyahu conclusion is stable. Every year that passes without a diplomatic resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict sees significantly more strength in Europe for the belief that a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict will be impossible without the imposition of biting sanctions on the Israeli government.
But regardless of that, negotiations with Iran are fundamentally different from negotiations with the Palestinians, because the negotiations with Iran are fundamentally multilateral in a way that the negotiations with the Palestinians have not been, and Iran has levers to make the West unhappy if the West negotiates in bad faith that the Palestinians do not have.
The sanctions that are biting Iran are fundamentally multilateral sanctions. The US cannot maintain or extend these sanctions without the cooperation of Europe, Russia, China and other countries. Only in Republican John Wayne fantasyland does the US get to order these countries about. Cooperation with these countries was essential to getting the sanctions in place, and if Congress blows up diplomacy with Iran, some of these countries are sure to say, well, there’s no reason for us to comply with these sanctions anymore, because the premise of the sanctions when these countries agreed to them was that the purpose of the sanctions was to pressure Iran to seriously negotiate. Blowing up diplomacy would mean blowing up the sanctions regime. Of course, some of the Tom Cotton Republicans would be totally delighted, because their real agenda is war with Iran, and blowing up the sanctions regime would bring war closer.
This is why it is crucial to keep Senate Democrats off of the Corker-Menendez bill, the main Republican legislative vehicle right now for blowing up diplomacy. Republicans have now made “blow up diplomacy” the Republican Party Line. It is telling that Rand Paul signed the Iran letter of the Tom Cotton 47. It is telling that Rand Paul is a co-sponsor of the Corker-Menendez bill. The closer we get to 2016, the more the GOP is making Rand Paul drink the Iran warmonger Kool-Aid. The fact that even Rand Paul is now running with the Iran warmongers increases the urgency of pulling Senate Democrats away from them. You can urge your Democratic senators to oppose the Corker-Menendez bill here.