March 21, 2015

March 31, 2015 is the deadline day for Iran and the countries negotiating a nuclear arms agreement to agree on a framework for the agreement. It's also the day Speaker of the House John Boehner is scheduled to travel to Israel and meet with Bibi Netanyahu to take a victory lap on behalf of Sheldon Adelson neocons everywhere.

That's no coincidence, but as Josh Marshall notes, it's not all blossoms and happiness for Boehner, either.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ron Dermer seem to assume that President Obama is an aberration or that they will seal an alliance with the US Republican party that will make him irrelevant. But President Obama is not an aberration. A future Democratic president - whether it was Hillary Clinton or someone else - would not be greatly different. People think she would be; she wouldn't. (This is a misunderstanding of her own views and the political realities she would operate in.)

Nor is the new Likud-GOP alliance sufficient. Democrats will win the presidency again. Indeed, over the last half dozen elections, their record has been strong. But even if that doesn't hold up, they will hold the White House again and they'll hold the Congress again. This is the nature of a two party system. The consistency of support is critical to Israel's reliance on great power protection, both in indirect military terms (arms supplies and worse case scenario military support) but even more for diplomatic protection.

So in this back and forth, every smackdown and burn and other episode of trash talk may make people feel good and it may have advantages for the GOP. But by definition, it's a set back for the Israelis. Even if Netanyahu is "winning" in his battle with the White House, he is actually losing, because his country's interest is to maintain as cordial and as close relations with the United States as possible - in a way that transcends partisan divisions within the US. 'As possible' is key because there will be real differences not only of opinion but fundamental interests that force disagreements. But there is nothing to be gained for Israel to be embedding itself on one side of a partisan war within the United States. In this kind of effort, every time you lose, you lose; and every time you win, you lose.

Nevertheless, it feels like just another measure of disrespect for the office as well as the man. John Boehner may have a place in the line of succession to the presidency, but he isn't the president. Using Israel as a wedge issue for American politics is short-sighted and disastrous.

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