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Israeli-U.S. ties damaged

The last most famous gunfight in U.S. history was in 1881 at 3 p.m. on a sunny Arizona day. It was a planned event that took no longer than 30 seconds but resulted in irreparable damage to some who were there that fateful day.

This time the showdown takes place before the U.S. Congress (those who chose to attend) next Tuesday, when Prime Minister and candidate for re-election Benjamin Netanyahu will appear at the invitation of Republicans in Congress to argue against peace in the Middle East.

Netanyahu feels compelled to jeopardize and further diminish the Israeli/U.S. relationship over his desire to prevent diplomacy from keeping peace with Iran and instead commit the U.S. to an attack on Iran that could well spark war with Israel and, by treaty, the U.S.

Should Netanyahu fail in his mission to fight for war he suggests that, should he be re-elected, he may opt to attack Iran from Israel, expecting his longstanding ally and friend, the U.S. to back what can only be defined as a Bushesque “preventive” attack.

History is clear on the failure of the preventative strategy of George Bush, the same strategy that took us to a pointless war of mistake for nearly a decade in Iraq. What Netanyahu honestly seeks is failed diplomacy, targeted attacks in Iran, and somehow in his imagination, an Iranian acceptance that such events would not be seen as acts of war.

The U.S. government disagrees, and while not yet able to reach agreement with Iran, reports enough progress towards an agreement to allow the conversations to continue towards what appears to be a final June deadline.

The potential agreement would lift current embargos imposed on Iran that have stymied the Iranian economy and isolated Iran from global politics. In return Iran would agree not to advance its nuclear development into weaponry.

The agreement could also be a signifier in improved U.S./Iranian relationships. Certainly the U.S. could benefit from Iranian cooperation in Iraq and Syria and other hot spots in the Sunni/Shiite Islamic wars across the Middle East.

The Prime Minister broke every diplomatic protocol by accepting the politically motivated and divisive invitation of Speaker Boehner, without pre-informing the White House of the invitation and acceptance in advance.

The result has been perhaps the worst U.S./Israeli relationship in decades. Where once congressional support for Israel was always bi-partisan, Netanyahu has alienated Democrats, the president, and eroded the trust between the two nations.

Republicans, for their part, look for any opportunity to harm this president and his legacy, regardless of the damage to the relationship with Israel. And free from responsibility to seek a peaceful solution to the Iranian dilemma of nuclear advancement, Republicans play with a risk in igniting war between Israel and Iran.

At the end of the day, when the sun sets on this shootout at the joint congressional session of the OK Corral in Washington, nothing good will come from this event. Netanyahu may or may not win re-election in Israel, but if he is re-elected the relationship with the U.S. will remain damaged for the balance of the Obama presidency and perhaps far beyond.

The U.S. may, in spite of Netanyahu and congressional republicans, succeed in maintaining peace with Iran while preventing another nuclear armed power from emerging.

President Obama may elect to work outside of an irresponsible congress and with our International partners to lift embargos and re-establish relations with Iran if Iran can accept this path to peace.

Bibi and Boehner will have stained their reputations with their ill-advised choices.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.