As I begin to write this, I am listening to Netanyahu's much ballyhooed speech before a joint session of Congress and my thoughts on the speech will be offered without the benefit of having read anyone else's take on the matter after the speech was given.
So far, I have to say, I am impressed. He's a better orator than I realized. I am, of course, a tad biased on this matter because I want Netanyahu to do well and it seems to me that, from what I heard of the speech so far, he is doing exceedingly well. To my ear he sounds straightforward, substantive, and sincere.
He also has, by my count, no less than 15 standing ovations, maybe three-quarters the way through, and some terrific stand-alone lines, such as:
"When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy... is your enemy."
"If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country."
"Now we are being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal."
What would this better deal consist of?
The main thing is that sanctions would remain in place until Iran meets three criteria:
1) Cease aggressions against its neighbors - (Received standing ovation.)
2) Stop supporting terrorism around the world - (Received standing ovation.)
3) Stop threatening to annihilate Israel - (Received a long standing ovation.)
One of Netanyahu's major themes - in this most important speech of his career - is that The Bad Deal will inevitably lead to a nuclear armed Iran and if the details of the deal that we know thus far are accurate then Netanyahu is correct. At the very least, all sanctions are to be lifted within ten, or so, years, under the sunset clause, leaving Iran a perfectly legal path to its own nuclear arsenal.
Ten years is an eye blink in the history of a nation and is simply insufficient if the goal is to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear bomb... or twenty... or two hundred.
Now that I have finished listening to the speech in its entirety I want to note a few things.
At one point, referring to Obama's efforts, Netanyahu said, "This is a bad deal, a very bad deal. We're better off without it." And he received a standing ovation. Now, it is impossible for me to tell just who was standing and who wasn't standing, but a majority were.
Does this not mean that every congressperson who applauded that line is taking Netanyahu's side on this issue, over that of the President of the United States?
To Netanyahu's credit, he was also straightforward and honest enough to insist upon the fact that the greatest threat to the world today is the potential marriage of political Islam with nuclear technology.
In this, again, the man is correct.
Ultimately, all Netanyahu is saying is that a better deal will prevent Iran from going nuclear unless, or until, the regime changes its behavior in the manner recommended above.
That seem commonsensical to me.
I am sure that there is plenty more to be said - and I can only imagine the venom being spit at places like Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and the Guardian. But I still have yet to read a word of anyone else's analysis.
I want to conclude, for the moment, by noting that toward the end of the speech Netanyahu said, "I can guarantee you this. The days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those... days... are... over.
The clear message was that Israel maintains the right and the ability to go it alone if need be.
Let's hope that it does not come to that.