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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/28/15

Netanyahu's Strategy: Divide and Conquer

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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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There is a lot of speculation right now that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rather unusual visit to Congress next month could backfire. I should say so.

To say that it is a risky gambit is painfully redundant, because everything Netanyahu has done during his political career could easily be defined as high-risk behavior. Not only can this backfire for Netanyahu, it can put the United States, Israel, and the entire Middle East in jeopardy.

Throughout Israel's short history the U.S. has lavished aid and protection on the Jewish nation seemingly without question, at least in Washington. The extent of the aid has been seen as so fundamental to Israel's survival and prosperity that Israeli cooperation with policy makers in Washington was often considered a given. No more.

Apparently Netanyahu has come to believe that the relationship can be gamed. That spineless U.S. politicians would value their petty disagreements more than Americans' best interests, and that he is more capable of leading America politically than its elected officials. He's about halfway there ... or here, as it were. He's either very, very smart or very, very stupid.

In accepting an offer to address the U.S. Congress, exclusively at the behest of Republican lawmakers, he serves short-term Republican political interests and short-term Israeli right-wing interests, but risks a backlash that could destabilize U.S.-Israel relations permanently. This is Netanyahu following the Bush Doctrine: tactics over statesmanship.

In putting all of his eggs in the GOP basket, he is really viewing a good midterm election showing by the Republicans as a trend he can bank on long-term. That ignores an Obama administration that is now free from the political concerns associated with a future reelection campaign, and is thus free to act forcefully on its policy agenda. But it also gambles on a "Republican" candidate winning the White House in 2016. Not a Democrat or a Tea Party candidate, either of whom might act to reign in the Israeli right wing for another four or eight years longer.

Effectively, Netanyahu has put the U.S. on a path that could easily lead to a constitutional crisis. He has pitted Congressional Republicans against a Democratic president in hopes that he can keep the U.S. cash and arms pipeline open until a new president or Congress takes office.

All of this pales in comparison to to the risks involved if Netanyahu and his right-wing Israeli allies decide to roll the dice and launch a significant military campaign in the region. Just this past week, Israeli war planes launched an attack on Hezbollah and Iranian military leaders in Syria.

While Iran and Hezbollah have long been defined as adversaries by the U.S. and other Western powers, including Israel, the leaders targeted and killed were engaged in fighting ISIS forces. Instead of aiding a regional alliance to confront ISIS, Israeli right-wingers used American-supplied arms to accomplish a result that is sure to further destabilize the situation and aid ISIS. But that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the trouble Israel could cause if it truly wanted to take the region and the U.S. into a major military engagement.

An appropriate analogous graphic would be Netanyahu standing before Congress with a five hundred pound U.S. bomb strapped to his chest and detonator clenched in his teeth trying to speak.

Will the U.S. remain a house divided at Netanyahu's pleasure, and what will be the cost? Israeli right-wing aggression will be curbed. The question is when.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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