Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It seems that Netanyahu, for all his experience in the United States and understanding of American politics, does not want to deal with Washington like an adult and prefers to behave like a petulant child. Recognizing the fact that Bibi and Israel have been correct for years about the potential nuclear danger posed by the radical Islamic regime in Teheran, there is a very serious question as to whether the Prime Minister may well have achieved immediate goals at the expense of the long term, vital, and essential U.S.-Israel relationship.
As far as the actual agreement between Iran and the P5+1 it appears to be that given the fact that the Obama-Kerry team were determined to make a deal, Israel got a significantly larger window with respect to nukes than it probably would have had if there had been no deal. The size of this window came as a result, probably in large measure, because of Israel’s pressure on Washington; particularly on the Pentagon and the intelligence community. While there are many things wrong with the deal the pressure on Israel’s existential viability is somewhat relieved.
The style of the Israeli Government and Bibi in particular in addressing the problem of the entire negotiating process, however, is as wrong as the approach of the Republicans in Congress in dealing with Obamacare. For over a year Congress deliberated on healthcare reform and finally passed a bill. It became law. It had its debate and it moved on. If there were problems with its implementation—as there always are and have been with complex legislation—spend the time and fix it. Instead, for more than four years now Members of Congress and Republican presidential aspirants have been pledging to repeal, eliminate, and reject the Affordable Healthcare law. Similarly, Netanyahu is determined to lead the fight in public and out front now to persuade Congress to reject and override a presidential veto on the Iran agreement.
Congress might still reject the agreement. There are ample reasons to question many portions of the deal, but for the sake of U.S.-Israel relations now and in the future, Bibi ought to understand that it is not about him and Obama. This is a debate about a critical question and not about ego or winning. The U.S.-Israel relationship will have many more mountains to climb and it would behoove Netanyahu to change his approach.
The Republicans did not accept healthcare, campaigned against it in 2012 and they lost. Their strategy failed. Today, Republicans are failing to attract Latinos because of their perceived anti-immigrant positions. As a result they could well lose the White House again in 2016. It seems that Bibi’s approach to Washington is following this same type of failed playbook and it could turn out badly for Israel.