Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Fighting Back Starts the Fight

Here's something I first realized when I had a roommate in college: the conflict doesn't start when one person begins abusing the other. The start of the conflict is when the abusee stands up for himself.

If I decide I'm going to eat your food, or never wash any dishes, or not respect your sleeping hours, or steal your CDs, or any of the other things my college roommate did, and you go along with it, there's no conflict. But when you say, "This is unacceptable," I can say, "We were getting along fine until you started a fight."

I think most people get this. But E.J. Dionne Jr. does not. His column is all about how Benjamin Netanyahu has damaged the special relationship between Israel and the US because Netanyahu had the temerity to say, "What you're doing needs to stop."

In Dionne's view, Obama is just a guy getting disrespected, not the guy who started the disrespect that will no longer be tolerated. Note his use of terms: "trashed an American president's foreign policy" (is it worthy of being trashed?), "Tuesday's speech was 'a very harsh wound to Israel-U.S. relations'" (what is the actual wound, the action or the speech that calls it out?), "his attack on President Obama's approach to negotiations" (capitulation counts as an "approach to negotiations" now?). Then he tries to accuse Netanyahu of Reductio ad Hitlerum. I'm aware of Godwin's Law, but I think the Prime Minister of Israel gets an exception. Elie Wiesel was there for the purpose of highlighting the connection to the Holocaust; should we accuse he who is arguably the world's most-famous Holocaust survivor of "playing the Hitler card"? If he doesn't have the right to do it, who does?

It's not a "reach" for "the most devastating metaphor available to him" to say a regime that has consistently declared a goal of killing all Jews is akin to a regime that strove towards a goal of killing all Jews. That metaphor is apt. If it's devastating, the devastation was supplied by the Obama administration's willingness to negotiate with such a regime. Dionne, though, would have us believe Netanyahu was somehow out of line to call attention to the devastating nature of the negotiations.

The most important part of the piece, though, is the quotation of Nancy Pelosi describing Netanyahu's "condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran." Because if that's true, if Pelosi and (assuming who she means by "our") the Obama administration are aware of the threat posed by Iran, then these negotiations are even more treacherous than we thought. Would that Obama is being duped. Pelosi insists he is not. He already knew everything Netanyahu had to say (there was "nothing new"), yet he continues to press ahead with the talks. Note he didn't bother saying that anything Netanyahu said was inaccurate or false, only that we already knew it. This is the Hillary Clinton defense ("What difference does it make now?") writ large. Do something treacherous, wait 24 hours, then say everyone already knows it so it doesn't matter.

Dionne has fallen under the Obama Narcissism Doctrine (OND): everything is about BHO. It couldn't possibly be about Jewish survival and the existential threat of an annihilistic version of Islam. No, it's about insulting the president, about "condescension" and "painting the president as foolish." How much more foolish behavior must we tolerate before we can call the fool a fool? Or can we only call certain fools on their foolishness? If so, E.J., which fools, and why?

The foolish negotiations are also a result of the OND: Obama will do what Reagan and Clinton, his two most-illustrious recent predecessors, were unable to do--normalize relations with Iran. It never once occurs to him to wonder if the current Iranian regime is one with which it would be proper to have normalized relations. What's "proper" and "improper" has a different meaning when viewing the world through OND. The things that make Obama look good are proper. That's the only criterion. As such, any deal Iran signs will be a proper deal.

In one sense, Netanyahu understands OND, and that's why he came to Congress. You can't stop a narcissist from staring at his own reflection, but perhaps you can stop the implementation of his self-serving policies. Let Obama sign his treaty, as long as the Senate will fail to ratify it.

In another sense, though, Netanyahu doesn't understand how far-reaching OND is. Obama is already arguing that this agreement isn't an actual "treaty" and so doesn't require Senate confirmation. And even if it did, executive amnesty shows that Obama implements what he wants, when he wants. There's no binding check on OND. We're all Obamists now.

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