There was nothing interesting in the content of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this morning. One remarkable thing about the event was how shamelessly the prime minister repeated one dishonest or tendentious claim after another. He held up an utterly unrealistic “much better deal” that Iran would never agree to as the only alternative, and he absurdly claimed that the deal currently being negotiated would “pave” the way to an Iranian nuclear weapon. The “much better deal” that he insisted on isn’t remotely possible, and the only reason to insist on it is to try to kill off the best chance of reaching an agreement. Netanyahu nonsensically warned about an unrestricted Iranian nuclear program ten years from now at the same time that he was agitating for the rejection of the only deal that could restrict the program. Needless to say, Netanyahu’s record of false predictions and warnings about Iran’s nuclear program makes him an especially unreliable source of information. The fact that his obnoxious performance was received so warmly in Congress today is not surprising, but it is nonetheless deeply discouraging for anyone interested in peace or foreign policy restraint.
The other remarkable thing was the embarrassing, rapturous response of the assembled members in the audience. Except for extremely rare occasions when an American president has enjoyed stratospheric approval ratings, I cannot recall such a loud, overwrought response from members of a Congress to a visiting speaker. The audience this morning enthusiastically cheered on the sabotage of a major U.S. diplomatic initiative, the undermining of an important U.S. policy goal, and the blatant meddling of a foreign leader in our domestic politics. It is one of the more disgraceful things I’ve seen an assembly of American political leaders do, and that is really saying something.