If Bibi Netanyahu succeeds in closing down America's diplomatic path to detente with Iran, only the road to war will remain open.
Which is exactly what Bibi wants. For what terrifies Tel Aviv, and rattles Riyadh, is not a U.S. war with Iran, but the awful specter of American rapprochement with Iran, a detente.
Thus, when France's foreign minister torpedoed the deal John Kerry flew to Geneva to sign, France soared in neocon esteem. The "cheese-eating surrender monkeys " of 2003 who opposed the Iraq war suddenly became again the heroes of Verdun and the Marne. "Vive La France" blared the Wall Street Journal editorial declaiming, "Francois Hollande's Socialist Government has saved the West from a deal that would all but guarantee that Iran becomes a nuclear power."
Did Hollande really save the West? Or did he just rack up points with the Saudi princes for when the next big arms contract comes up for bid?
What is going on is a gravely serious matter. If the Netanyahu cabal succeeds in sabotaging U.S. negotiations with Iran, it is hard to see how we avoid another war that could set the Persian Gulf region ablaze and sink the global economy.
And just what is it that has Netanyahu apoplectic? A six-month deal under which Iran would freeze all enrichment of uranium, in return for a modest lifting of sanctions, while the final agreement is negotiated. The final deal would put permanent limits and controls on Iran's nuclear program to ensure it is not used to build bombs And there would be more and more intrusive inspections.
How would this imperil Israel? Iran today has no atom bomb. Has never tested a bomb. Has never exploded a nuclear device. Possesses not a single known ounce of 90 percent enriched uranium, which is essential for a uranium bomb. Nor does Iran have enough 20 percent uranium to make a bomb. And part of the stockpile it did have has been converted into fuel rods. There are inspectors in all of Iran's operating nuclear facilities.
The Ayatollah has declared a fatwa against nuclear weapons. The Hassan Rouhani regime says it has no nuclear weapons program. And U.S. intelligence agrees with Iran. All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007, and, again, two years ago, said, with high confidence, that Iran has made no decision to build a bomb and has no nuclear weapons program. How would new restrictions and reductions on an Iranian nuclear program that has never produced an ounce of weapons-grade uranium, let alone a bomb, threaten Israel, with its hundreds of atom bombs?
"You can't trust the Iranians. They're lying about their nuclear program," says Lindsey Graham.
Is U.S. intelligence also lying? Ten years ago, it turned out Saddam was telling the truth and it was Lindsey's friends doing the lying about Iraq's WMDs. Looks like the same old crowd up to the same old tricks.
To abort Obama's Iran initiative, Bibi is moving on four tracks. First, get Congress to accept Israel's nonnegotiable demand that "Iran must give up all enrichment, shut down all nuclear facilities and ship all enriched uranium abroad" before any sanctions are lifted. This is an ultimatum masquerading as a negotiating position. Acceptance would entail an Iranian surrender Rouhani could never take home. It is a deal killer. Everyone knows it, even the Republicans now embracing the Israeli position as their own.
Second, persuade Israel's collaborators in Congress to impose harsh new sanctions, rub Iran's nose in them, and scuttle the talks.
Third, arouse Jewish communities worldwide to pressure home governments to block any deal.
Sunday, Bibi told the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America that what Kerry was prepared to sign was a "bad and dangerous deal" that threatened Jewish survival, and, "on matters of Jewish survival, I will not be silenced." Bibi intends to use the explosive issue of imperiled Jewish survival to break Obama and Kerry and force them to abandon their Iranian initiative.
Finally, the Israeli lobby is behind the push by Lindsay Graham and Rep. Trent Franks to have Congress preemptively surrender its war powers, by authorizing Obama to launch a war on Iran at a time of his own choosing, without any further consultation with Congress.
Remarkable. Self-proclaimed constitutional Republicans are about to vote Barack Obama a blank check for war.
What the GOP fears is another episode like the one last summer where America rose as one and told Congress not to authorize any war on Syria. A panicked Congress capitulated, and there was no war.
Today, though Obama and Kerry insist "all options are on the table," Obama has no more authority to attack Iran today than he did Syria last summer. Hill Republicans seek to remedy that by a preemptive congressional surrender of their war power.
One wonders if Netanyahu and his amen corner in Congress have considered the backlash worldwide should they succeed in scuttling Geneva and putting this nation on the fast track to another Mideast war Israel and Saudi may want but America does not.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)