Pin It
Favorite

Trick or Treaty? 

Even Ronald Reagan would sign a treaty with evil empires when it served the cause of peace on earth

Opposition to the Iran nuclear treaty is driven largely by ideologically motivated, anti-Obama Republicans supported by a few pandering Democrats. Their strategy to defeat the president? They are willingly and enthusiastically playing Charlie McCarthy to Benjamin Netanyahu's Edgar Bergen.

click to enlarge herold.jpg

But the opposition ranks are breaking; fissures are beginning to show. Consider the following list of Israeli security and military leaders who have signed a letter supporting the treaty: Shlomo Gazit, chief of intelligence and a major general; Carmi Gillon, director of the Israel Security Agency; Ami Ayalon, vice admiral, former head of Israel's secret service; Itamar Yaar, colonel deputy of the Israeli National Security Council; Arie Pellman, Israeli Security Agency official; Amiram Levin, deputy to the director of Mossad and a major general; Itzhak Barzilay, a Mossad official; and Nathan Sharony, major general and head of planning for the armed forces.

In addition, some 36 Israeli admirals and generals also signed the letter, including Uzi Eilam, brigadier general and the director of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission.

Meanwhile, upward of 40 American generals and admirals, plus a long list of national security leaders, including two former national security advisors and a former Secretary of State, also say they also support the treaty.

As for American Jewish opinion, 340 rabbis are urging support for the treaty, and polls show that American Jews favor the treaty by at least a 20-point spread.

Regarding the tenor and source of the opposition coming from Prime Minister Netanyahu's Israeli base (which is mirrored in right-wing America), Bernard Avishai, himself an Israeli, writes about his experience with a local Jewish cheese merchant. Asked by the merchant what he thinks about Israel's election, which returned Netanyahu to power, Avishai responds, "Are you out of your mind? I feel shame for this country." Which leads the merchant into hysterics: "Obama is putting the country at risk! Soon we will have missiles at Ben Gurion Airport!"

Wherever the source, whether inside the Republican caucus or at a cheese shop in Israel, the opposition is the seemingly the same: hysterical.

Given all the international intrigue fueling all this hysteria, President Obama might reasonably have responded to his critics with something like the following statement:

While we must always take into account vital interests of our allies, American national security interests must remain our internal responsibility. It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.

Of course Obama never said that; the credit goes to none other than President Ronald Reagan, who, during a press conference, directed these remarks at Israel's conservative government.

The story: Because Reagan had decided to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Netanyahu of his era, accused Reagan of treating Israel as a "vassal state" and condoning second-hand charges that Reagan was anti-Semitic. (Sound familiar?)

It seems clear that the current attack, certainly from inside Washington, D.C., is not just about the treaty, nor even primarily about the treaty. (And this is really a treaty that can't be renegotiated; its opponents know this.) What we see here is another round of posturing by the coterie of knee-jerk, anti-Obama Republicans. In other words, this is business as usual — the same old game — albeit this time with world peace at stake.

But as the public girds to hear, once again, Republican candidates each laying claim to being the second coming of The Gipper, might we pause to consider the irony? Not only would Reagan have refused to go along with his party's Iran-treaty hysterics, he would not fit in with today's version of his party across a broad spectrum of issues.

Yes, Reagan made political hay out of that alchemy called the "Laffer curve" — the fiscal version of "the rain follows the plow" — but as H.W. Brands argues in his new book Reagan: The Life, Reagan's conservative rhetoric served to mask his preferred pragmatism, which led him to take positions that would "disqualify him from good standing in today's conservative movement."

At the top of the list was his support for tax increases throughout the '80s. He also supported liberalization of abortion laws in California; opposed right-to-work laws; supported immigration reform; supported gun control; had no hostility toward homosexuality (in fact, he and Nancy once left their kids in care of a lesbian couple prior to going on a vacation); strongly opposed a California ballot measure that would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools; rejected Israel's permanent retention of the West Bank; opposed new settlement construction; and promoted a land-for-peace exchange for Palestine. He even signed a treaty of his own with "the Evil Empire," aka the Soviet Union.

Later at that same press conference, Reagan was asked if he was losing patience with Israel. His blunt answer? "I lost patience a long time ago."

Sometimes The Gipper could get right to the nub of the matter. ♦

  • Pin It

Speaking of Comment, Foreign Policy

  • Puppy Love
  • Puppy Love

    Burned out by politics? Winston and his kind can help
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • What Now?
  • What Now?

    How a career change forced me to reevaluate fatherhood
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • Felonious Judgment
  • Felonious Judgment

    A community of hope and restoration can be ours with fair chance hiring
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • Class Act
  • Class Act

    Seeing through money differences can build relationships focused on fairness
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Don's Ultimate Con
  • Don's Ultimate Con

    Trail Mix: Trump's birther problems and Johnson's polls
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Robert Herold

  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Mad as Hell
  • Mad as Hell

    The economy's ups and downs have created profound dislocations, but yelling won't fix anything
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Spokane Shock
  • Spokane Shock

    Get outside your culture to be able to decide what's in it
    • Mar 18, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation