Every year, in an impressive display of raw lobby power, the AIPAC Policy Conference descends on Washington. And every year, a huge number of senators and congressmen from both parties, as well as the American president, compete to see who can be the most obsequious toward what AIPAC falsely calls “the pro-Israel movement.”
Never have the stakes been higher. It’s well known that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to go to war with Iran. He would like the United States to do the job or join Israel in an attack, or, at the very least, not stand in Israel’s way. On the eve of this year’s conference, Netanyahu gave new meaning to the word chutzpah by letting it be known he’ll demand Obama’s guarantee that Washington will go to war if Iran’s nuclear program advances beyond specific “red lines”; see these reports by Haaretz’s Barak Ravid and the Guardian’s Chris McGreal.
Bibi is playing a high-stakes intimidation game: he knows he can count on Congress to follow the AIPAC line, as it has for many years. Legislators from both parties are already demanding White House cooperation with Israeli war aims. And he may be betting that he can make Obama pay a price this November if the president doesn’t cooperate. The fact that former Mossad director Meir Dagan and other Israeli security experts, as well as US military officials like Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Martin Dempsey, are worried about the catastrophic consequences of such a war seems not to have swayed Bibi in the least.