Obama Speak

Obama Speak

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu did a few weeks ago, this afternoon President Obama went directly to the leadership of the American Jewish community—and indirectly to American Jews, the Israeli people, and the Prime Minister—to reiterate directly to them why he believes the deal with Iran should be approved by Members of Congress. While other members of the Administration also spoke to some of the more specific and technical issues and will do so over the next few days, Obama tried to allay much of the concern that he believed had led many Jews to believe that Iran deal ought to be rejected. The President was warm and relaxed and tried to appear totally respectful of alternative viewpoints. He also wanted to make this mass presentation, before the Jewish community mounts its major lobbying day on Capitol Hill after Labor Day.

As Obama has done since the outset his approach was to challenge the agreement’s opponents to offer him a better deal. The President argued that he believed this deal can hold.  If not Obama pledged to challenge Iran if it fails to comply. He continued to argue for the snap-backs as a viable control mechanism for both him and whoever succeeds him.

Obama did not get enmeshed in technicalities but returned to his pledge to support the safety and security of Israel regardless of the family feud which may be occurring at the moment. He asserted again that the ties between the U.S. and Israel ran deep from a multiplicity of sources in history and contemporary geopolitics; so did his personal commitment to sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge over its adversaries. Implicit but unsaid was the fact that Netanyahu had overplayed his hand; will lose this fight; and had not done Israel or American Jews any favors by pushing this confrontational strategy with America’s president and Israel’s friends within the Democratic Party.

The bottom line here was that most observers now concede that the deal will be approved by Congress, perhaps even without the need for a presidential veto. Whatever might be its shortcomings, no one is going back to the table and it behooves the P5 + 1 and Israel to make it work. The fact that Obama made this speech at all was a statement in itself. It was a clear call to the American Jewish community not to defect from the Democratic Party despite their current differences and that Israel’s Prime Minister had led them astray.

At this point it appears that this deal will only be defeated if the Iranians themselves move too quickly, too dangerously, or too aggressively and they foil the treaty. 

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