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How Obama and Netanyahu developed a ‘special relationship’ from hell

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama shown in the Oval Office.

PBS’s “Frontline” is premiering a new documentary Tuesday evening called “Netanyahu at War,” which they kindly allowed me to preview. It’s two hours long and starts with Benjamin Netanyahu’s rise, from a youth spent — from the age of seven — in America with his very hard-line right-wing Zionist father — to his service in the Israeli military, to his emergence as the Israeli right’s media spokesperson in the United States. Next he rises to the leadership of Israel’s rightist Likud Party and prime minister (first from 1996-99, and then, after a fall from power, for a second, longer run from 2009 to the present). To those who follow Israeli politics and history, it’s familiar stuff, although well-told and a good refresher course.

The film encourages us to view Netanyahu as the hardest right-wing ideologue ever to serve as Israel’s prime minister, as a man unable to make the concessions necessary to reach a two-state deal with the Palestinians, as a man who sees himself as chosen by destiny to save Israel and the Jews from perils that the rest of the world takes far too lightly, except in those parts of the world where the perils are rooted.

The film is long, and not a thriller, but it’s the second hour that I found riveting. It portrays the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb as precisely the peril that Netanyahu feels destined to face. Israeli journalist Ari Shavit describes Netanyahu as, in his own mind, “the Churchill to Iran’s Nazi Germany.” The film does not specify this extension of Shavit’s analogy, but it seems clear that Netanyahu came to view President Obama as the Neville Chamberlain figure, whose naïve preference for negotiation over the use of force imperils Israel as Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler imperiled the Jews of Europe.

The second hour — relying on interviews with many Obama and Netanyahu insiders plus an array of long-time players and observers of the Arab-Israeli conflict — details the complete breakdown of relations between Netanyahu and Obama, leading to Netanyahu’s unprecedented not-too-subtle support for Mitt Romney in 2012 and climaxing with Netanyahu’s in-your-face address to the U.S. Congress against the Obama administration’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

That speech failed to kill the deal but succeeded only in deepening the hostility, perhaps even hatred, between Netanyahu and Obama. By the end of the film, you have seething anger in Washington and Tel Aviv, an unprecedented low point in the history of the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship” that seems to leave the two sides smoldering, or worse than smoldering.

Obama, according to the film, views himself as the closest the U.S. has ever come to a Jewish president, and as president who very much wanted his legacy to include progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, or perhaps the deal itself. Certainly, Obama believes that the negotiated deal he and other world powers made with Iran is the best possible outcome available and in the best interests of Israel. Netanyahu begs to differ — or more than begs — on all counts.

Outline of a final settlement

In pursuit of progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian solution, Obama stated publicly that the basic outline of the final settlement has long been clear. Any possible settlement would be based on the pre-1967 borders, with adjustments to those lines. The adjustment would amount to land swaps to enhance security and take into account developments since 1967, so that Israel would end up with basically the same amount of territory it had before the Six Day War of 1967 and the Palestinians end up with a state of their own for the first time ever.

Soon after Obama made that ‘67-borders-with-land-swaps comment, Netanyahu came to Washington to tell Obama how unacceptable that is to him and how threatening such an outcome would be to Israel. He chose to deliver that message during a media availability in the Oval Office with Obama sitting in silence in front of the cameras and journalists, being lectured by Netanyahu. It’s possible that the essence of the story “Frontline” seeks to tell is conveyed in this passage by several shots of Obama’s face and body language. His smoldering anger summarize the story of a “special relationship” from hell. It also marks the end of any serious progress toward the two-state solution for the remainder of the Obama presidency.

U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg also says that the unprecedented breakdown of the “special relationship” is “all wrapped up in the dysfunction between these two men,” which is underscored by the events of the 2012 election season.

Netanyahu all-but-officially campaigned for Romney and sent a strong message to American Jews that they need to support Romney. Obama was unwilling to ever be in the same room with Netanyahu. These guys really detest one another; the film makes that clear. Netanyahu really thought Romney would win, the film suggests. But in the end, Obama not only was reelected but received 69 percent of the Jewish vote.

Israeli attack on Iran?

The last portion of the film focuses on the Iran nuke stuff. Netanyahu was so convinced that the deal Obama supported was bad for Israel that Israel came very, very close to launching its own strike to destroy Iran’s above-ground nuclear facilities. Goldberg says that “American military planners were going to bed every night assuming that they would wake up to news of an Israeli attack” on Iran. The idea that Israel was that close to such an attack without a green light from Washington is a powerful symbol of how far the “special relationship” had declined and many of the experts in the film added weight to that perception.

Long-time Mideast diplomat/negotiator (now with Brookings) Martin Indyk said Obama had “written off” Netanyahu as an ally or a player where the Iran deal was concerned. The U.S. held secret meeting in Oman with the Iranians and didn’t tell the Israelis, not an act of special friendship. But no problem, Israel was spying on the U.S. and found out about it anyway, also not an act of special friendship.

Indyk said Netanyahu was no longer acting like “’a rational prime minister of Israel [who,]…  understanding the importance of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, would not confront the president on the most important agreement [Obama] has negotiated during his presidency.”

The same could probably also be said about coming to Washington, under Republican auspices, to give a speech arguing against Democrat Obama’s Iran deal to a joint session of Congress, a speech that many Democrats boycotted out of loyalty to Obama. But, just as with the 2012 election, Netanyahu miscalculated the power of his arguments, at least on Democrats.

Well, that’s probably more than enough to help you decide whether you want to watch the film, which premieres locally, on KTCI and KWCM at 8 p.m. Tuesday and on KTCA at 9.

I will leave you with two more quotes from the program. The first is from Aaron David Miller, a writer and analyst of Mideast matters who also served six secretaries of state as an adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations, about the prospects for the long-sought Arab-Israeli peace deal:

“We do not have an Israeli or a Palestinian leader right now — or an American president right now, frankly — who is prepared to pay the price of what it would take to lay the basis for conflict-ending agreement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

And lastly from Shavit, the Israeli journalist, referring, I assume, to the long-run success or failure of the Iran nuclear deal: “If, God forbid, it goes bad, in 10 years’ time or 20 years, I think that we will all look back to these years, from 2009 to 2015, and we will be deeply saddened by fact that there wasn’t the ability to rise to the challenge, to work together, to get over the bad blood, to get over the mistrust.”

Comments (64)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/04/2016 - 10:28 am.

    Really now, how is the American president responsible for war or peace in the middle east ?

    Especially when there is constant provocation from ALL sides in the middle east ?

    There can be no peace unless the on-site participants want it. It is as simple as that. Until then it is all wasted time and effort..

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/04/2016 - 10:24 pm.

      Constant Provocation

      Why do the Palestinians fight back. Gosh i really wonder. And since they fight back they are at fault. Great.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/05/2016 - 11:42 am.

        It’s the Land of Too Many Landlords

        Why do Palestinians fight back, or fought first?

        Israel was created, carved from existing territory long contested by many. All that was known prior to1948, since then, now and forever.

        The Land is the only tangible basis of animosity, the most convenient conflict point. The intangibles of bloodlines, cultural histories and colonial disruption by British and French governors of the Near East form the alchemy of this seemingly insoluble question. I suppose we might go back to the Persians and Greeks, but that’s not necessary in understanding current affairs.

        I do give Pres.Obama credit for recognizing the region as likely irretrievable. And, I also denounce his summary judgment of many important matters of that region. Style points count, very much in traditional diplomacy. He may have substance in his actions, but certainly lacks required finesse.

        As a serious aside: I highly recommend that all those truly interested in Near East machinations periodically watch David Lean’s exemplary primer: Lawrence of Arabia. Much of what we all now discuss, is well-founded in that film.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 01/04/2016 - 11:15 am.

    Benny’s Backyard

    Frankly, I pretty much believe in Israel’s instincts, historical experience and excellent regional intelligence gathering. As for knowledge and experience in all things Middle East, I also look to Israel much of the time, certainly not to the U.S. White House. Our intelligence has been pretty lame in that region for years. Look to non-constrained British and French agency views if you wish to validate/denigrate Israeli assertions.

    “Obama, according to the film, views himself as the closest the U.S. has ever come to a Jewish president… .” What?! Which specific personality disorder leads one to see himself as a virtual Jewish president because he received 69% of the American Jewish vote? Hasn’t the American Jewish electorate been politically Liberal for decades, reducing direct support of Israeli charities, for example? Maybe the Jewish vote was an anti-Mormon vote. Who cares about that deflection, in any case? Just more delusional self-assessment.

    Why would anyone who has followed Israeli realities since the 1960s bother with Mr. Obama’s fantasy of Near East/Middle East matters? Why, certainly, would any Israeli leader (especially Mr. Netanyahu) give him the Tel Aviv time of day?

    So, it’s time to look at the score card for this boxing match. The Obama Administration has pretty much gotten the entire Middle East bout wrong in the first 7 rounds, with only 1 to go for them.

    As understood by most level heads, the Iranian “deal” was a figment of American/European imagination orchestrated as additional United Nations regional confusion, well clarified by immediate and recent Iranian disregard for it as they flagrantly move forward with forbidden missile projects (as accurately predicted by Israeli intelligence and recently announced by Mr. Netanyahu, by the way).

    Furthermore, Iran has moved aggressively to complicate all Western strategies toward Daesh, while bonding ever closer with Russia, making possible plans regarding a Syria Solution more pipe dreams.

    Saudi Arabia just executed a bunch of (purported) Iranian agents and activists, followed by this weekend’s severing of diplomatic relations with Iran (by expelling its official diplomatic corps.)

    I’m with Benny all the way on matters of his backyard.

    I suppose these matters might be far better for all concerned if Mr. Obama could simply sign a few of his beloved Executive Orders; but, alas, he can only do that for U.S. domestic issues.

    2016: The final fling for “the closest the U.S. has ever come to a Jewish president…”

    Oy vey…

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/04/2016 - 02:14 pm.

      If you can’t even get

      Bibi Netanyahu’s name right,
      why should we take the rest of your rant seriously?

      And there is a ‘Benny’ that you should read:
      Benny Morris, Eretz Israel’s ‘historian laureate’.
      You might find out what’s actually happened west of the Jordan since 1948.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/04/2016 - 07:01 pm.

        Well, now

        I am naturally familiar with the “Bibi” nickname; however, not familiar enough with the PM to use that nickname, instead using his primary short name: Benny.

        You may find I know far more about Middle East history than most you attack here.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/04/2016 - 12:04 pm.

    Obama, the inept negotiator

    You say “Obama stated publicly that the basic outline of the final settlement has long been clear. Any possible settlement would be based on the pre-1967 borders, with adjustments to those lines.”

    Not true. What set off Netanyahu and American conservatives was the understanding that it was a long-standing U.S. policy going back to LBJ and including such people as Bill Clinton, George Bush, and even recently Hillary Clinton, that the pre-1967 borders was a Palestinian *goal* that could or would be the basis of a deal – something to be negotiated with both sides getting something in return.

    Obama’s outrageous statement in 2011 basically took that leverage off the negotiations table.
    “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states”

    Insert face-palm here. This is not unlike the Iranian nuclear deal where he removed the sanctions that were in place on Iran even before the negotiations began. Trump’s right. Obama has never read the “Art of the Deal” or he simply doesn’t care, which is worse.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/04/2016 - 03:06 pm.

      Help me out here….

      Mr Tester begins with:

      “You say “Obama stated publicly that the basic outline of the final settlement has long been clear. Any possible settlement would be based on the pre-1967 borders, with adjustments to those lines.”

      Not true. What set off Netanyahu and American conservatives was the understanding that it was a long-standing U.S. policy going back to LBJ and including such people as Bill Clinton, George Bush, and even recently Hillary Clinton, that the pre-1967 borders was a Palestinian *goal* that could or would be the basis of a deal – something to be negotiated with both sides getting something in return.”

      And then offers this link as evidence:

      Which says:

      “In a later interview with the BBC, Obama said that “the basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides.”
      “That’s on the one hand and on the other hand, and this was an equally important part of the speech, Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank and that security element is going to be important to the Israelis.” Obama said in the interview.”

      Which confirms what Mr Tester was disputing in the first place and again confirms the insidious nature of ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) that even when you essentially agree with the President you must still claim to disagree.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/04/2016 - 03:33 pm.

      The reality is that there can be no peace without agreement fixed borders.

      Israel has taken the stance that it has the unique right to seize, hold and live on adjacent lands as required for the service of its population.

      There is no alternate universe in which this a recipe for peace with its neighbors.

  4. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/04/2016 - 08:21 pm.

    What one may expect from PBS

    I guess, the content of the film could have been inferred from the first word of the article – PBS. “The film encourages us to view Netanyahu as the hardest right-wing ideologue ever to serve as Israel’s prime minister, as a man unable to make the concessions necessary to reach a two-state deal with the Palestinians…” In this light, I can call Obama an ideologue who does not want to make concessions necessary to reach peace with ISIS (OK, that would be too much, because Obama constantly makes concessions to all American enemies in international affairs, but I think my point is clear). How can anyone advocate making concessions to someone who wants to kill you And of course, Obama’s position is always a position of weakness which Israel cannot afford (neither can America but it has become obvious only recently –

    Mr. Brandon, Mr. Netanyahu’s full first name is Benjamin for which Benny is a nickname – so your sarcasm is misplaced. On the other hand, Benny Morris, who you mentioned, changed his views lately…

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/04/2016 - 10:23 pm.

      What one may expect from….

      We did not take anything from ISIS. And of course will there be an acknowledgement of what was taken from the Palestinians. I think not. So here we go round and round by playing pretend victim.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/05/2016 - 11:15 pm.

      Benjamin Benny Bibi

      I have yet to see Mr. Netanyahu referred to as ‘Benny’ in the press — ‘Bibi’ is used often.
      ‘Benny’ would be common in the United States; I’m not sure about Israel (though my Hebrew is badly rusted). A quick Google search did not turn up any references to him as ‘Benny Netanyahu’. Plenty of references to him as ‘Bibi’, though.

      As for Benny Morris, I’m going mostly by the second edition (2008) of his book.
      I know that he has more recently said that the Palestinians are not now interested in a solution; that does not change his history of the conflict.

  5. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/05/2016 - 06:53 pm.


    Mr. Maddali, I want to remind you that America is often accused that it constantly interferes in the Middle East affairs so in ISIS’ eyes, we definitely took something from them… On the other hand, what was taken from the Palestinians? If anything, it is something they did not want and refused to take.

    Mr. Robson, can you please prove your equivalency point by a reference to a poll or research showing that majority of Israelis wants to kill Palestinians and specifically Palestinian civilians? Can you please name a country in the world, other than Israel, whose right to exist is constantly questioned? Have you noticed a difference in how Israelis reacted to a video showing settlers calling for murder of Palestinians and how Palestinians react to actual murder of Israelis? And finally, would you advocate America’s making concessions to ISIS?

    As for alternative, it is simple: If all countries (or at least all Western countries), tell Palestinians that they have to go without a terrorist act or provocation (such as firing rockets from Gaza or praising past terrorists) for a certain term (a year or two, for example) before their state aspiration will be supported and until then they will receive no money, peace will come soon…

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/06/2016 - 08:20 am.

      Just ignore the settlements, who cares if your neighbor claims your land when they want it….

      I seem to recall many relatively quiet years and no change in the negotiating attitude of an ever-growing Israel.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/06/2016 - 08:49 am.

    Two State Solution- the ONLY solution

    Whatever else ever comes out of this it’s gratifying to see that a progressive observation, derided and ignored by “mainstream” liberals and conservatives alike for decades, has finally been acknowledged by an American President.

    This Two State solution based on the 1967 borders etc. etc. has been described and championed by progressives like Noam Chomsky since the mid-late 70s, and it is in fact, the only path to actual peace between the Israeli’s and the Palestinian’s, Obama is absolutely correct in that regard.

    Now, if peace between the Palestinian’s and Israeli’s isn’t your objective, then of course it’s a different story. In fact it’s clear Netanyahu et. al have decided (decades ago) that perpetual conflict is acceptable so long as the costs to Israel are minimal. Israeli leadership has clearly decided that Israel will either impose a form of “Indian Reservation” on the Palestinians or live with perpetual conflict that allows them to annex more and more Palestinian land. The question is how long will the Israeli people tolerate perpetual conflict and when will THEY demand a negotiated two state solution?

    Hawks gotta hawk in the meantime so military blunders remain a distinct possibility. The thing about Hawks is while they possess a distinct enthusiasm for military action, they frequently lack the intellect and wisdom to use it intelligently or appropriately. Netanyahu’s plan to attack Iran was thwarted by his own military who pushed back and demanded an American “Green Light”. When the Military doesn’t even support military action you know your Hawks are off the grid. Fortunately for the region, Israel, and the US, Netanyahu wasn’t able to ignore his military’s warning as Bush eventually when he “forgot” Powel’s warning that breaking Iraq means taking ownership of it.

    Meanwhile the Palestinian conflict continues and the problem is it can’t be isolated. Were it just a conflict between Israel and Palestinians the morally bankrupt logic of perpetual conflict might actually make sense on some level. The problem is that this conflict is a lynch pin of regional conflict. If the Israelis and Palestinians were to negotiate a real peace agreement (which necessarily means a legitimate, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state rather than the “reservation” Netanyahu would prefer), the conditions of regional peace and cooperation would begin to fall into place for a variety of reasons.

    Obviously Obama understands that and he’s the first US President in history to publicly acknowledge it, he was right to stand up to Netanyahu, and kill a disastrous military plan. It’s the first time in decades (perhaps ever) that an American President has gotten Israeli policy correct. The question now is which of the next US Presidents (Hillary or Bernie) would be most likely to promote the two state solution.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/06/2016 - 10:54 am.

    The other thing…

    Progressive critics have claimed for decades that the US is complicit in whatever human rights and other sundry Israeli violations because many or most of them required this “green” or “yellow” light from an American President. Not that the accusations required “more” documentation but this episode clearly confirms the link between Israeli military actions and US endorsement or permission. Many of those Israeli operations did not end well, and one has to wonder how things could have been different if previous US administrations had acted like Obama?

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/06/2016 - 11:25 am.

    And the other other thing…

    How come no one is talking about Israel’s nuclear program? Why are we more worried about Iran’s nukes in the first place? Iran has signed the non-proliferation treaty thus opening themselves to the required inspections that form the basis of deal. Israel? Israel never signed the non-proliferation treaty and therefore isn’t subject to ANY inspections of ANY kind, even in theory. And if you look at how Israel got it’s nukes it’s not exactly a pretty picture of trust cooperation among allies and friends.

    So why aren’t we talking about whether or not Israel’s nukes have had a stabilizing or destabilizing effect in the region? I’m not saying either way but the fact that we NEVER have that conversation is quite revealing don’t ya think?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2016 - 01:15 pm.

      Same reason that

      we don’t talk about our nuclear weapons, or the Russians, Chinese, English, French, Indian, Pakistani ….. .
      They’re a long established fait accompli — nothing’s going to change them.
      North Korea, on the other hand …. read today’s news.
      So we acted in regard to Iran because we thought that there was a chance to limit their progress towards a deliverable nuclear weapon.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/06/2016 - 02:27 pm.

        Yes and no

        Israeli nukes may be a fait accompli, but that doesn’t mean can’t or shouldn’t talk about the effect their presence has in the Middle East. Don’t ya think Iran’s nuclear program might have something to do with Israel’s nuclear program?

        Beyond that, we DO talk about our nuclear programs and weapons, NATO, the US, and Russia (Soviets before that) have all signed and negotiated several nuclear accords. Israel is unique among all the nuclear powers in that their weapons are not officially acknowledged, and therefore cannot be brought into regional peace negotiations. So, yeah, there’s something to talk about… we just don’t.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/06/2016 - 07:01 pm.

          Israel has had nuclear weapons

          for about 50 years, so why is Iran starting a nuclear program now? I don’t think that the Israel/Iran relationship has changed radically. Assuming that Iran was starting to develop nuclear weapons (which it denies), why now? I’d look at its borders for where it might perceive threats: Saudi Arabia (and some of the mini Gulf states) and Afghanistan (American connections) Pakistan (a nuclear power), Russia (via states in the former USSR, and maybe Syria now that Russian troops are there) and Turkey (not yet a nuclear power but a traditional rival.

          So yes, Israel probably has -something- to do with Iran’s nuclear program, but I doubt that it’s the main reason. I take most of Iran’s antizionist woofing as just that: playing to the Arab street.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/07/2016 - 08:21 am.

            Why 50 years later?

            Which of these “other” threats Iran faces has/was planning an actually military attack on Iran? Clearly Israel is the single biggest threat, and one has to perform strenuous mental acrobatics to ignore that fact and try find some OTHER reason for Iran’s nuclear program.

            Why after 50 years? dude, until 1978 Iran and it’s Shaw were US/Israeli allies. After that, they were a broken country trying to rebuild and at war with Iraq for two decades. I don’t know what you mean by: “now”, but the Iranian program is at least a decade old which means they were able to start it AFTER decades of recovery from war, sanctions, and political isolation the international community. And I remind you, they were only able to begin it with the help of expertise from Pakistan, which wasn’t available earlier.

            This is why Iran didn’t begin it’s nuclear program the day after Israel got it’s nukes in 1966, it’s not a big mystery.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2016 - 09:46 am.


              I’m not familiar with the wind patterns (natural ones, at least) in the Middle East, but if numbers of nuclear weapons get thrown around, neither Israel, Iran or anything else in the neighborhood is likely to be habitable.
              That’s why the standoff between the US and the USSR was described as MAD: mutually assured destruction. And these were much larger areas.
              Starting a nuclear war would assume that the parties were not rational actors; I don’t think either the Iranians or the Israelis are that dumb.

              BTW — I don’t believe that Israel’s planned attack on Iran was nuclear, any more than it’s attack on Osirak or Deir ez-Zor was.

              So I’d say that Iran’s nuclear (weapons) program was more a political (mostly internal) bargaining chip than a serious military program. It appears to be popular in Iran, and the Ayatollahs are smart politicians in a system that is not a simply theocracy.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/07/2016 - 11:05 am.


                You don’t build nuclear weapons for 50 years simply as a bluff. MAD wasn’t about threats, it was about actual nuclear warfare, had anyone launched attacks (there several scenarios, many of them including Israel) nuclear warfare was a REAL consequence, not merely a bargaining chip.

                The attack Israel was planning wasn’t a nuclear attack but the problem is it could escalate into a nuclear attack without US military support. Do you really think Netanyahu would just sit around while Iran killed thousands of Iraeli’s with hundreds or thousands of medium range missiles it has in it’s arsenal? With US support they could suppress Iranian responses with conventional weapons and pressure. Without US support… This is what the Israeli military was worried about and why they demanded a green light from Obama.

                • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/07/2016 - 03:12 pm.

                  Bargaining chips

                  only work if they are backed up by real consequences.
                  So yes, there were possible scenarios in which the US or the USSR might have launched a nuclear attack, but I don’t think that either side viewed mutual annihilation as its first option.

                  And no one’s called me ‘dude’ in fifty years.
                  I’m old enough to remember hiding under school desks in case of a nuclear attack.

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/06/2016 - 03:15 pm.


    Right or wrong, good or bad, it is undeniable that Iran views Israel as a primary enemy (among an increasing number of late). When your enemy has a bigger and better weapon than you the need to match that is overwhelming and the world community has probably done the best they can to slow that weapon acquisition down; however, if anyone thinks they can deny forever Iran’s nuclear ambitions as long as Israel has 150 of them in stock is dreaming or willing to go to war in a manner way beyond what has occurred in the past 15 years in the Middle East. As the sole remaining super power in the world we seem to like to play referee across the globe. In the Middle East we are a referee that makes 90% of the calls for the home team: Israel. Because this is down from 99% of late, Netanyahu is irate at Obama. Just think how crazy he would be if we called things like borders, settlements, refugees fairly: He would still get 75% of the calls and would put the whiniest basketball to coach to shame.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/06/2016 - 07:38 pm.

    Some history

    Mr. Rovick, settlements were not in existence until after 1967 in theory and only until after 1973 in practice – but no Palestinian state at that time. And I didn’t notice any inclination to peace in Gaza after Israel left it. And what constitutes “quiet” year in your mind?

    Mr. Udstrand, can you name a single instance when Mr. Chomsky blamed Palestinians for anything? And since he has not, his opinion, as that of a one sided party, cannot be taken into consideration. Now, that is not to say that two-state approach is wrong in general; it is wrong at this particular time and for many reasons such as unwillingness of Palestinians to accept any reasonable Israeli offers and their desire to kill Israelis wherever possible as all polls show, to name just a couple. If one takes reality into consideration, like Netanyahu (who actually lives in Israel, unlike Obama who visited Israel just once, after more than 4 years in the office) does, it is easy to see that calls for two state solution right now are not realistic, an idea which Netanyahu doesn’t hesitate to share. But there is no evidence that he thinks that it will never happen in the future. Do you have that evidence? As for Israeli people, they have demanded a two state solution for a very long time – that is why Israel made several very generous offers, in case you haven’t noticed, – but now they are fed up with terrorism.

    Now, about intellect and wisdom. We see how Obama administration’s approach has led to disaster in the Middle East. Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIS – the list is long. Now Obama’s Iran agreement has led to escalation of Saudi-Iran fight – and it is just the beginning. And of course all Iran’s provocations are ignored… And North Korea has brought itself back into the picture… And of course all of the above has nothing to do with Israelis or Palestinians so the “lynch pin” theory is absurd.

    And finally, are you seriously comparing the danger of Iran’s nuclear weapons and Israel’s nuclear weapons? Which country doesn’t recognize the other and supports its destruction? Which country has a tendency to capture and burn foreign embassies or bomb community centers in South America or give weapons to internationally recognized terrorist organizations? Which one stones people to death, doesn’t allow women to attend volleyball games, holds foreign nationals hostage, sets elections, and chants “Death to America?”

    Mr. Blaise, are you saying that Iran was trying to get nukes because it was afraid of Israel? Wouldn’t refraining from calling for Israel’s destruction be a cheaper and easier approach? Israel never considered Iran its enemy until Khomeini started calling for Israel’s annihilation… I also wonder which 99% of America’s calls support Israel. Do you mean forcing it into cease fires with Hezbollah and Hamas thus allowing those terrorist organizations to rearm? Or do you mean constant calls for restraint from both sides in cases when Palestinian terrorists kill Israelis? Or being on Israel’s side in the UN Human Rights Council which has Israel as its permanent topic on all meetings while Syria, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia are discussed sparingly and which condemned Israel more than all other countries in the world COMBINED? Or, sure, Saudi Arabia now chairs this distinctive body…

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/07/2016 - 12:19 pm.

      You think?

      “Mr. Blaise, are you saying that Iran was trying to get nukes because it was afraid of Israel? Wouldn’t refraining from calling for Israel’s destruction be a cheaper and easier approach? Israel never considered Iran its enemy until Khomeini started calling for Israel’s annihilation…”

      Why did Russia develop and proliferate its’ nuclear capability? Possibly in large part because it’s chief global rival had the ability to destroy them and they did not have a similar capability. The same is now occurring between Israel and Iran. If you believe a statement from Iran on wanting peace and harmony in the Middle East would result in Israel dismantling its’ nuclear capability you are sorely mistaken: Israel developed it’s nuclear capability years before Khomeni even came to power. Maybe one approach to containing Iran’s nuclear capability should be an offer from Israel to subject their nuclear program to the same scrutiny as Iran’s? We are the best and most loyal ally Israel has ever had and if they had any respect for our country and it’s principles they would refrain from entering our political process as Netanyhu did last year.

  11. Submitted by Jim Million on 01/07/2016 - 08:53 am.

    Very Good Questions

    Let’s see if you receive any good responses. In the meantime, please continue……

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/07/2016 - 09:20 am.

    Reactionaries vs. conservatives.

    Since we’re seeing a flare of reactionary mumbo jumbo here let’s take a moment to clarify.

    One of the primary and basic principles of “conservativism” is the notion that history is a real thing, and that the lessons of history are critical and indispensable. This belief in history as a reservoir of wisdom and solutions necessarily requires reliable historical observations produced by historians with integrity.

    Right wing reactionaries on the other hand ignore or fabricate histories that justify their agendas. Reactionaries frequently conceal their reactionary nature by claiming to be conservatives, but one can easily unmask the reactionary by simply testing their fictional histories against the factual records.

    Conservatives have a legitimate place on the political/social landscape. Reactionaries on the other hand render themselves as illegitimate actors by virtue of their inherent dishonesty. Conservatives can participate in substantive public discourse whereas reactionaries offer little more than toxic disruption.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/09/2016 - 09:44 am.

      Quite True

      We should also be aware of Radicals vs. Liberals.

      Let’s leave the polar bears and penguins to their respective ice caps, and continue rationally informed discourse.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/07/2016 - 11:21 am.

    Some History?

    Anyone familiar with Chomsky knows that he’s always given credit where credit is due when it comes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

    Regardless of who Chomsky or anyone else “blames” the fact remains that a two state solution is the only solution that can bring peace to Israeli’s and Palestinians.

    Those who are content with the status quo of perpetual conflict will and will always bend history to meet their claims. All we can do is recognize that lack of integrity and try to move beyond it. The problem with perpetual conflict is that it is obviously a greater threat to security than peace would be. Ongoing conflict has a way of eventually spreading and escalating thus making it a powder keg rather than a blanket of security. Perpetual conflict is NOT self limiting.

    As for the questions regarding Iran and Israel’s respective threats or destabilizing effects in the region, it’s actually quite startling to look at the historical record. How many countries has Iran attacked and how may military operations has Iran launched outside it’s borders in the last 60 years? That would be: “zero”. Let me say that again… “ZERO”. Meanwhile the number of attacks and military operations Israel has launched outside it’s borders is literally to great to recount here. Yet we deem Iran’s rhetoric a greater danger to peace and stability than Israel’s multiple military operations? And by the way, despite all those military actions… the conflicts continue. Why? Because there is not military solution to this problem.

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/07/2016 - 06:50 pm.

    History is real

    Mr. Blaise, Russia (actually, the Soviet Union), developed nuclear weapons mostly not because it was afraid that America would attack it (Soviet leadership was not that dumb to believe that) but to have a back up for its meddling in other countries. Sure, Israel developed its nuclear capability way before Iranian revolution to make a point that it cannot be destroyed by the Arab countries, not to attack anyone with it. Iran, on the other hand, started working on its nukes for the reasons similar to the USSR’s – to give it free hand in advancing its Islamic revolution which has always been Iran’s goal (and that is a view favorable to Iran because an unfavorable one would be to assume that it does want to destroy Israel as it said many times). North Korea’s example of getting away with murder (literally) because it has nukes only reinforces Iran’s determination. But obviously, Israel has nothing to do with it because Iran started threatening Israel first – you can’t pick up a fight and then claim that you want to have weapons in self-defense. So maybe one approach to having peace in the Middle East would be to force Iran to actually give up any chance of having nukes?

    By the way, I do not disagree that America has been the best Israel’s ally (since 1967 that is) but it is because the rest of the world is so hostile to Israel. And no, Netanyahu did not interfere in American political process – he just presented his point of view which was different from American president’s one but the same as that of majority of American Congress and, I believe, American people.

    Mr. Udstrand, I like your point about conservative and reactionaries. Now please substantiate your reference to “right-wing” reactionaries by providing some examples when they “ignore or fabricate histories.” And please test my “fictional histories against the factual records.”

    I would never say anything about Chomsky if I were not familiar with his writing where he always blames America and Israel so, again, his opinion is irrelevant.

    Now let’s look at history of Iran and Israel. First of all, we should not talk about 60 years of Iran’s not attacking anyone since current Iranian regime is only 35 year old. In those years it provided weapons and military advisers to two terrorist organizations (recognizes as such by the US government) and to Yemeni rebels and Syria’s Assad; it also helped organize terrorist acts as far away as Argentina. So it is way more than zero and all that hostile activity was directed against nations and people who never attacked Iran. Israel, on the other hand, had been attacked multiple times by Arab countries and by terrorists. Where did Israel launch its military operations? Let’s see – in Lebanon to stop Arafat from constantly attacking Israel from there; in Iraq to stop it from developing nukes (for which the world, and especially Kuwait, should be eternally grateful), in Syria for the same reason, in Entebbe where it rescued its people taken hostages by terrorists (and where Netanyahu’s brother was killed)… Anywhere else? Is it too great to count? And yes, the conflict still continues because the world has never let Israel finish the job – in 1967, in 1973, in 2006, etc. – it always tells Israel to stop when it is winning. So yes, there is military solution – just like military solution in 1945 lead to peace in Europe.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/08/2016 - 08:23 am.

      So you’re telling us….

      The USSR developed nuclear weapons in case they wanted to nuke Lithuania? Better rethink that one and add in the fact that they worked long and hard to develop launch platforms to reach Grand Forks North Dakota.

      So, foreign political leaders can stick their fingers in the air, judge popular sentiment, and then interfere in our political process because they think they’re popular? Today’s GOP conveniently forgets a couple of long held courtesies honored by both parties for a long time: When you exit office, refrain from commenting on the actions of your elected successor. GWB Has done a fine job at this. His VP, not so much. And I’ll let one of my favorite think tanks and creator of the healthcare mandate, the Heritage Foundation, explain an element of Washington’s Farewell:

      “The Danger of Factions. Washington also warned of “the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party”—one of the two most famous recommendations of the Farewell Address (along with a warning about permanent alliances). By party, Washington meant factious groups that sought their own good, to the detriment of the common good and the rights of others. The proliferation of faction or party in this sense was a dominant question of his presidency. He spoke of designing men, who would divide sections of the country as a means to their own political power. The factions of the 1790s foreshadowed those of the Civil War.”

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/08/2016 - 09:15 am.

      Testing History and Chomsky

      The thing about these comment exchanges is that they are actually public and anyone can read them. Any reader can “test” a commenters credibility, they don’t need me to do that.

      The notion that Obama and Obama alone is responsible or everything from the emergence of ISIS to the North Korean nuclear weapons program is historical fiction that’s too silly to even contemplate.

      When comparing Iranian and Israeli aggression I choose a 60 year time frame simply because that’s roughly how long Israel has existed as a nation. The idea that changing the time frame changes history is a typical example a reactionary attempt to manipulate the historical record. Unfortunately for our erstwhile reactionary changing the time frame doesn’t change the facts and one would actually find that the frequency and number of Israeli military actions outside it’s borders (i.e. the occupied territories, Lebanon, etc.) Actually increased in the last 35 years. Prior to 1978 (roughly) Israel was primarily focused on self defense i.e. fending off multiple Arab attacks. After the Israeli victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur War Isreal never again faced an existential threat of any kind, and has increasingly deployed it’s military in service of political objectives (i.e. subjugating the Palestinians) rather than legitimate defense. Those deployments have stalled into stalemate with the Palestinians and developed into a perpetual conflict.

      And yes, by definition a “conflict” means that Palestinians (and others) are also attacking Israel. I’ve never seen anyone deny that.

      Any historian seeking to tilt the scales of Israeli-Iranian comparisons would be ill-advised to expand the conversation into proxy’s or other covert military supply operations. I remind everyone that Israel was a major player in the Iran/Contra debacle, and Israel is one of the worlds largest arms dealers accounting for at least 10% of the worlds arms deals. Throughout the 80s (clearly within our new “35” year time frame) Israel made covert supplies of weaponry to several Central and South American dictatorships as well as the Nicaraguan Contras who were terrorizing and murdering civilians.

      Then of course we have the US sponsorship of the Iraqi invasion of Iran which killed over 150,000 Iranians.

      Remember that Iranian we civilian Airbus the US Navy shot down killing all on board?

      Oh, I almost forgot, did you know that the US has been covertly supporting military attacks by various guerrilla groups INSIDE Iran since at least 2006?

      Yeah…. Iran is the BIG threat in the region. Can’t imagine WHY they’d be looking to acquire nuclear weapons to defend themselves.

      As for Chomsky, once one makes a ignorant statement on a public forum it speaks for itself and cannot be unsaid or wiped away with a simple declaration of expertise. Be that as it may the logic and necessity of a two state solution does not depend on whether or not you agree with or trust Noam Chomsky, anymore than one has to like or trust a mathematician who tells you 2+2=4.

      All Chomsky does (and does very well) is assemble the documented historical record. He’ll be the first one to tell you not to take his word for it.

      It’s not all about Chomsky, I just like to point to Chomsky when I can because his invisibility is a bizarre feature of the American political media landscape. Worldwide he’s recognized as a leading authority but in the US until very recently he’s been more or less blacklisted by mainstream/corporate media. That in and of itself is an interesting fact to explore but alas it’s beyond the scope of this conversation.

      At any rate, if anyone is interested in seeing Chomsky in action back in 2012 Harvard University sponsored a debate between Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz. You can watch it for yourself here: This is debate is an hour and half long, so it’s not an edited snip of any kind.

      Don’t take my word for it but the interesting thing about this exchange is that right out of the gate Dershowitz launches one ad hominem attack after another on Chomsky, “Planet Chomsky” etc. but never seriously tries to challenge or refute Chomsky on a factual basis. And ya gotta remember, unlike Chomsky, Dershowitz is a regular feature and “go-to” guy on the American media landscape.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/07/2016 - 08:31 pm.

    Just to be clear…

    It has often been the case over past few decades that those who criticize Israeli policies are accused of being anti-Israeli or pro-someone else. I’m not pro-Iranian or anti-Israeli, I’m just pro-peace. I’ve been watching this conflict my whole adult life and clearly these issues cannot be resolved without looking at both sides or every side of the equation. US discourse for decades has been handicapped by tunnel vision regarding Israeli policy.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/08/2016 - 10:38 am.

    Anyways about nuclear fallout

    One quick response Mr. Brandon’s suggestion that the danger of nuclear fallout diminishes the chances of Israeli nuclear attack:

    It’s unlikely that Israel has any giant multi-megaton Pacific Island vaporizing hydrogen bombs in it’s arsenal. You build nukes you can use and they have whatever explosive yield your looking for. Israel’s nukes are probably more tactical in nature, weapons they could deploy in choke-points to stop large armored attacks. Or bunker busters. Their warheads also likely have to be small enough to deploy by the missiles and aircraft (mostly fighters) that they have (they have no B-52s in their arsenal). This means that fallout can very manageable. The US detonated nuclear weapons 50 miles from Las Vegas for almost a decade, Israel could certainly strike targets 1,000 miles away in Iran.

    • Submitted by Anthony Walsh on 01/08/2016 - 01:06 pm.

      A minor comment on fallout

      I would like to suggest that the fallout is not all that manageable, and back it up with this:

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/08/2016 - 02:23 pm.

        Not to sound like Dr. Strangelove but..

        No one said nuclear warfare doesn’t muss some hairs but you’re comparing 70 years of nuclear weapons production etc. to a limited Israeli nuclear attack. Given the logic of warfare if the Israelis calculate that casualties from fallout a thousand miles away are more acceptable than those resulting from Iranian missiles falling on Israeli citizens… they’ll go with the nukes. If fallout were deal breaker they simply wouldn’t have nuclear weapons in their arsenal in the first place. Sure, nukes are bad but no one who’s gotten them has yet got rid of them, and no one who’s got them has ruled out ever using them.

        Nevertheless I have to recant my claim that nuclear fallout can be “perfectly” manageable, that was a stupid choice of words. What I meant to say was that given any crises where military planners are contemplating using nuclear weapons, nuclear fallout isn’t going to be the deciding factor.

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/08/2016 - 08:17 pm.

    More history

    Mr. Blaise, the USSR developed nuclear weapons to be safe from any conventional weapons to be used against it in case Soviet interference becomes too unbearable for America (just see how it lets North Korea do what it wants) and to have an option to attack America – that is what I said to prove that it was not a defensive weapons. And you again referred to interference “in our political process” from, I assume, Netanyahu, without any proof of such interference – giving a speech in Congress expressing his views is nothing of this nature. By the way, you did not answer my questions…

    Mr. Udstrand, you are right, everyone can test everyone’s credibility but you are the one who explicitly questioned mine so you should come up with examples. When I disagree with you, I provide counterarguments point by point which you do not do, instead relying on using general labels and derogatory terms.

    I never said that Obama alone is responsible for everything – I just said that his contribution is quite significant.

    You included Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza and Lebanon as examples of actions abroad without mentioning that they were all defensive actions against attacks – from Hezbollah, from Hamas, from PLO. So Israel was not after “political objectives” as you called them but clearly legitimate defense. Hamas attacked Israel in 2008 (soon after Israel left Gaza which led to Hamas’ being elected there, under Bush’ patronage, by the way, so it is not all Obama’s fault), 2012, and 2014; Hezbollah attacked it in 2006; and there were hundreds of suicide bombing prior to that coming from Palestinian areas. Just to put this in perspective, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks during 2006 war killed 43 Israeli civilians (in addition to military casualties) which, in proportion to total population, would be an equivalent of about 2,500 Americans killed and, if you remember, America lost 2,400 people in Pearl Harbor attack and we all know what FDR did after that. No country in the world would let things like this go so no aggression on Israel’s side here.

    Israel and Iran/Contra affair: Israel just did what America asked it to do so this is irrelevant to our conversation. And so is Israel’s arms sales – it is business affairs and has nothing to do with military intervention since no objectives other than profit are sought (why would Israel care about Central America?). Iran, on the other, interferes to promote its political and military objectives in the Middle East (Syria, Yemen) and anti-Semitism in other places (Argentina). So no comparison here between Israel and Iran. And what do Iraq-Iran war and shooting down Iranian plane by America have to do with our conversation?

    Two state solution: I said – and you ignored it – that I do not disagree with that; I just said that it is impossible at the moment and you didn’t provide any arguments against that.

    Now, Chomsky. I said that he is not objective and one-sided and therefore is irrelevant since it is impossible for one party in conflict to always be wrong as he claims. So, to prove me wrong, please provide a sample or two of his writing where he accuses or blames Palestinians for something… without blaming Israel, of course…

    And finally, your being pro-peace. Chamberlain was also pro-peace in 1938, and so was Hitler; he just wanted Czechoslovakia. On the other hand, I guess, one can say that FDR was pro-war in 1941. Obama was pro-peace when he didn’t want to enforce his red line against Assad – I just don’t think that Syrians appreciate that. And I can’t decide if Clinton was pro-peace or pro-war when she bombed Libya… So what should a pro-peace person do if he sees a bully attacking someone? Don’t you think that everyone should consider who is right and who is wrong in any conflict?

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/09/2016 - 09:09 am.


      So many opinions, so little foundation. Typical blog blather, to a great extent.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/09/2016 - 11:28 am.

      Yes Ilya…

      I think it’s clear to everyone that you’re invested in the ongoing conflict. That doesn’t change the fact that ongoing conflict is the antithesis of peace.

      I believe I already pointed out the fact that those invested in the ongoing conflict and military violence simply have different priorities. It’s fine to have different priorities, but it’s dishonest to claim that we all the same priority. There are those who want peace, and there are those who want peace…. just not right now.

      It’s important to make that distinction because those who defer peace for some other objective rarely if ever end conflicts absent military victory. Since military victory is impossible for either the Palestinians or the Israelis you have ask: “What exactly are the people waiting or the ‘right’ time for peace… waiting for?” The answer in Netanyahu’s case is he’s waiting for Palestinian submission, hence the perpetual conflict.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/09/2016 - 11:09 am.

    Debate games and Whack-A-Mole

    Another tactic frequently (although not exclusively) deployed by reactionaries is debate gaming. You can always recognize this when you see someone try to pile up “facts” on their “side” instead of responding in any substantive way to information or facts being provided by anyone else. On a very basic level these “arguments” are based on a logical non-sequitur i.e. a single or small number of legitimate facts can be refuted by a larger number of facts, as if one can achieve some kind of numerical factual superiority. This is like claiming you have refuted the fact that 2+2=4 by pointing out that 3+3=6, and 2+3=5, and 11+10=21. You have 3 facts to my one so you win! This is basically an invitation to play Whack-A-Mole, not an attempt at serious dialogue.

    Of course attempting to dismiss a source of information with a “bias” claim of some kind without refuting a single fact or observation is also a classic debate game tactic.

    Needless to say, no debate gamer is EVER going to solve any serious problem much less produce workable policy that could bring peace to the Middle East. More importantly one has to keep in mind the fact that the debate gamer isn’t even really trying to solve problems, and they never get tired of being wrong because being “right” isn’t a necessary part of the game.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/09/2016 - 01:41 pm.

    Not to Whack Moles but….

    For some reason reactionaries love to bring Hitler and Chamberlain into the discussion no matter how irrelevant they are. Every potential enemy they want to attack is the latest Hitler and anyone who doesn’t want to attack is Chamberlain. This little more than stereotyping pretending to be historical wisdom.

    The truth is that Nazi Germany and Hitler were unique historical events that emerged in the context of a European Civil War that started in 1914 and ended with the defeat of Germany in 1945.

    Sure, Neville Chamberlain’s declaration that Europe was not going to war was wrong, but that doesn’t mean Chamberlain caused WWII. No matter what Chamberlain said, or who the PM of England had been, Hitler was in power and planning a war that no one was going to stop.

    Aside from a mundane and undisputed observation that it’s a good idea to be aware of potential danger, neither Hitler or Chamberlain have anything to tell us about the Iranians, or the Taliban, or Iraq, or Syria, etc. etc. This is just reactionaries invoking their favorite bogeyman instead of engaging in substantive discourse.

  20. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/09/2016 - 04:55 pm.


    Mr. Million, will you please provide a sample of my “no foundation” statement?

    Mr. Udstrand, I am indeed invested in the ongoing conflict, just like anyone wanting peace and justice should be, and want to end it up as any normal person would. But conflict is not an antithesis of peace as the WWII results show: sometimes a war is needed for peace, however difficult such a concept may be. Didn’t FDR want peace when he declared a war on Japan? Just think of that… So we do have the same priorities, except some are realistic and some do not see the real world… Wanting desired thing immediately (instant gratification) usually does not lead to good results and studies show that kids who can wait for a minute to get two candies instead of grabbing one immediately usually do much better later in life.

    Can you please explain what facts or information you provided I did not respond to? You, on the other hand, left at least half a dozen of my points and facts without response (for example, about your lynchpin theory). And the only “bias” claim I made was about Chomsky which should be easy for you to refute with just one or two examples but you just couldn’t find them thus proving my bias statement correct. So you switched the topic to irrelevant “what reactionaries do” one and are fighting a straw man. And by the way, in the very beginning I suggested a way to bring peace but you either ignored it or missed it.

    As for Hitler and Chamberlain, Munich agreement “is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Germany” (from Wikipedia) so using that example is very legitimate. As a history lesson, Hitler came to power because after the WWI (not Civil War) allies wanted to finish it as soon as possible without fully defeating Germany but also to punish it – a clear example of desire for instant gratification ending badly. On the other hand, Britain and France could have defeated Germany in 1938 thus preventing if not the war but the majority of its 50 million casualties. And I am glad to see that you agree that it is “a good idea to be aware of potential danger,” except I don’t understand why you ignore potential danger of Iran or Taliban…

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 01/09/2016 - 08:13 pm.

      “Correct” indicates agreement with you

      The weak or non-existent foundations refer to others.. Sorry you misinterpreted my support.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/09/2016 - 11:21 pm.


      We’re not talking about WWII and none of these comments about FDR or Chamberlain in any way address the issues raised thus far regarding Israel and Iran. The notion that Chamberlain’s failure to stop WWII somehow means that no wars can ever be ended or prevented by negotiation is simply a logical non-sequitur. History of riddled with examples of negotiated peace and averted wars.

      The thing that makes reactionaries so dangerous is the fact that no matter how may military fiasco’s they lead us into, they never learn, never get tired of being wrong, and never stop demanding more conflict. According to your logic Ilya, Chamberlain brought war and Hitler brought peace to Europe: “But conflict is not an antithesis of peace as the WWII results show: sometimes a war is needed for peace,”

      Peace is the absence of war, not the result of war. That’s not a naive delusion of a peacenik mind, it’s simply a fact.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/09/2016 - 11:39 pm.

    By the way…

    The idea that France and England could have or would have launched a preemptive strike on Nazi Germany is pure historical fantasy. The allies didn’t fail to respond to Hitlers early aggression because they’d “appeased” him earlier, they simply didn’t have the military capability to project their force. The Allies decided to wait for Hitler’s attack on France, which they thought they were prepared for. They made a military decision to rely on what they thought were strong defenses rather than launch an attack. Their attempt to project force into Belgium was a disaster, and their defenses were obsolete. None of this was Chamberlain’s fault.

  22. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/10/2016 - 09:45 am.

    History doesn’t lie

    Sorry for misunderstanding, Mr. Million. Thank you for support.

    Mr. Udstrand, we are talking about current events and history always gives helpful hints and analogies. You admitted that it a good idea to be aware of potential danger and yet totally ignore the danger of appeasing Iran (and it is clear that is what Kerry and Obama are doing now when they promise to waive the newly adopted law requirements and do not sanction Iran for ballistic missiles tests or provocation against our navy).

    The reason I brought WWII was you claiming of being “pro-peace” so I wanted to show how dangerous this may be and how little meaning it actually carries. Sure, Munich failure does not mean that negotiations cannot prevent or end a war but it shows that if the only objective is to prevent a war immediately without thinking about future dangers, the result is always disastrous. On the other hand, can you please name a few instances of real and long-lasting“negotiated peace and averted wars” lately? I can think of the Cuban Missiles crisis but after that I go blank…

    Yes, peace is the absence of war but the goal should be long term peace, not immediate short-lived one because in this case future war is always worse. WWI did not result in peace and it took WWII to finally have it in Europe so please don’t twist my logic to say that Hitler brought peace. So what are the “many military fiascos” that reactionaries have led us into? Vietnam? But then you are calling JFK and Johnson “reactionaries.” So that leaves us with Iraq war only but that hardly qualifies for “many.” And how would you classify bombing of Yugoslavia and Libya?
    Now about WWII prevention. Please read this and this In other words, Hitler bluffed in Munich and Chamberlain fell for that out of desire to prevent a war by all means. Isn’t this something we should learn from?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/10/2016 - 01:25 pm.

      Uh huh…

      It’s good thing Hitler started WWII because without it we never would’ve had peace in Europe. By the way absolutely JFK succumbed to a reactionary impulse in Viet Nam.

      Here’s a partial list of reactionaries for you: Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini. Do I really have to do identify the military fiasco’s they led their countries into? I’m sorry Mr. Gutman but anyone who has such a hard time finding examples of military fiasco’s in history is going to have a very difficult time establishing credibility as a reliable excavator of historical wisdom.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/10/2016 - 01:49 pm.


    One last comment on the actual subject of the documentary:

    Obama has described the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons as a: “Game Changer”. We have to ask however, what game is changed?

    For all it’s admittedly alarming rhetoric it is extremely unlikely that Iran would build nuclear weapons in order to launch an immediate attack on Israel, no one (including the Israeili’s) are actually claiming the Iran would build nukes just so it could attack Israel once it has the weapons in hand.

    The game that changes isn’t that Iran blows up Israel, the game that changes is that Israel for the first time in decades would be faced with credible military retaliation. The question then is whether or not and to what extent such a game change might actually be a “bad” thing and for whom?

    That doesn’t mean we should endorse an Iranian nuke program, but it does get us into a discussion about using something other than military strikes to resolve conflicts in the region.

    In the mean time we have an agreement with the Iranian’s that prevents them acquiring nuclear weapons without military strikes.

    The irony is that decades ago one of the reasons the US threw its support behind Israel was that Israel was supposed to be a stabilizing counterweight to Soviet influence in the region. By the time of the 1st Intifada that judgement was in serious doubt. The Soviets were in check, but stability was looking more and more elusive.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/11/2016 - 02:14 pm.

      It is not good that Hitler started WWII but it was inevitable based on WWI results but Chamberlain, like a good fairy in the Sleeping Beauty, could have changed the extremely bad inevitability into something not so bad.

      As for reactionaries, I was talking about American history since you used “lead us into” words so I assumed America. Your examples are not convincing though because so many reactionaries, in your definition, won the wars (Stalin and Mao, for example) and so many non-reactionaries lost their wars… So in your opinion, was bombing Yugoslavia and Libya reactionary?

      Back to documentary. First, you are wrong and Israel does not dismiss a possibility that Iran drops nukes on it, considering Iranian government’s religious beliefs and system and Rafsanjani’s point Second, Iran’s nuclear weapons will lead to Saudi’s and Egypt’s nukes with unpredictable results. And third, it will give Iran a cover to do other bad things it wants to do, similar to North Korea which is getting away with murder (literally, as I pointed out before) just because it has nukes (imagine Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait when he had nukes) . And of course, we do not have “an agreement with the Iranian’s that prevents them acquiring nuclear weapons without military strikes.” At best we have an agreement that will delay Iranian getting nukes.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/11/2016 - 04:39 pm.


        “At best we have an agreement that will delay Iranian getting nukes.”

        Nice to see that we have reached agreement on this.

        A definitive “IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR CAPABILITY” is simply right wing bluster.

        I don’t suppose you would like to join me in congratulating President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the folks who achieved this agreement?

        I didn’t think so….

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/12/2016 - 11:28 am.

          I doubt that even Obama and Kerry would agree that delaying Iran’s getting nukes for a few years is worth congratulations – they think they have done it forever…

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