We Jamaicans have a phrase that we use to ridicule silly ego displays. “What a poppy show,” we say.
I can’t think of a more appropriate response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech. The Israeli prime minister bared his inflated ego before the US Congress yesterday, and it was not a pretty sight.
He was condescending and bumptious – and wrong.
If he hadn’t said the same things about Iraq a decade ago, he might even have been dangerous. But there’s another old saying that applies to Netanyahu’s message – “Once bitten, twice shy.”
To nobody’s surprise, Netanyahu wants America to go to war with Iran, just as he did with Sadam Hussein’s Iraq.
Back in 2002, when he appeared before Congress as an expert witness on Iraq, he warned that US intervention was necessary to avert a nuclear conflict that would be the end of the world. Yesterday he warned that a pact being negotiated with Iran would trigger a nuclear conflict that would be – you guessed it – the end of the world.
His speech drew standing ovations from Republican members of Congress. But nobody outside of the Republican base could possibly take Netanyahu’s “warning” seriously this time.
Netanyahu summed up his position on Iran as: “a better deal or no deal.”
But a better deal than what?
The Obama Administration is working with other world powers (Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France), to halt Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon in exchange for relaxed sanctions. Any such deal is not yet in sight, and the negotiations are secret.
Netanyahu cannot know what the “deal” is because there is no deal.
By appearing before Congress in defiance of President Obama’s wishes, and rattling his saber for the world to hear, Netanyahu made it even less likely that a deal will be reached.
But he gave himself a chance to show off. And he did just that.
He lectured Congress on Mideast history. He doled out foreign policy advice to the US and its President. He was the all-knowing elder statesman talking down to simpletons.
What a poppy show!