What Iranians think about Netanyahu’s visit to the US

There has been quite a to-do about Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US and his speech today to the joint session of Congress. For the first time that I can remember, there was not universal approval in Congress and the establishment media about his blatant attempt to direct US foreign policy and undermine negotiations with Iran.

Of course there were the obligatory standing ovations that have become mandatory. Apparently members of AIPAC and other groups in the Israel lobby monitor these events to make sure that members of congress are behaving properly and displaying suitable levels of ostentatious support for Israel. But over 50 members of Congress boycotted the event and some who attended refused to stand for the ovations. The initial reactions to his warmongering speech have not been good.

What do Iranians think of this act of political theater and Netanyahu’s efforts to use his friends in Congress to scuttle the talks and incite the US to go to war with Iran? Juan Cole summarizes the coverage in the Iranian media, something that the establishment media rarely do, though knowing what others think should be part of creating a well-informed public.

Reformers and moderates remain hopeful that Obama will prevail against the far right wing Israeli Likud Party and what Iranians call “extremists” in the US Congress. (It should be a wake-up call for US congressmen when Iranians think they are the extremists).

The hard liners in Iran don’t care, since they do not believe that Obama is negotiating in good faith to begin with. They point out that the US sanctions on Iran are arbitrary and by fiat, and have no basis in international law, and that Iran is being made to bend over backwards to please Washington just to get back to a normal situation. That is, they don’t think Iran is really gaining anything here. Indeed, some want reparations for the damage the US has done the Iranian economy.

Iranian commentary on this issue seems on the whole somewhat hopeful, and shows awareness of the fissures in Washington and the discomfort of many Democrats with the ways in which Netanyahu is attempting to undermine their party’s and their leader’s policies toward Iran. Some think the episode will change US relations with Israel, while others question whether that is really possible. They see the GOP obstructionists in league with Netanyahu as “extremists.”

His quotes from various sectors of the Iranian media make for interesting reading.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    I have talked with people who were were in Iran before the revolution, and I have seen some show on PBS shot in the last few years, and it seems that the Iranian middle class has a fair amount of goodwill towards the U.S. and the west in general. If the warmonger wing of the U.S. government hadn’t overthrown the democratically elected Iranian government and shoved that monster the Shah down their throats, we might have had a good ally in the Middle East, as opposed to that ally-in-name-only Israel.
    Even now, I think there is hope that over time we could see Iran’s rulers become less hardline Muslim and perhaps we could get the ally we should have had fifty years ago.

  2. says

    The undeclared nuclear power and proliferators agree with the superpower that uses nuclear weapons and holds the world hostage with them, that Iran can’t even think about having nuclear weapons. Wow, I’m shocked.

    If it were anyone but the US and Israel doing it, it would be called “nuclear blackmail.” But, seriously, it has nothing to do with preventing Iran from being able to defend itself against a potential US attack or anything crazy like that. (The same crazy reason the North Koreans want nuclear weapons)

    US nuclear policy is remarkably immoral, even for a country that is supremely hypocritical. The deeper you dig into the shitpile that is US nuclear policy, the more shit there is. Most Americans don’t know, for example, that during most of the cold war the US’ SIOP (single integrated operational plan) blueprint for a nuclear war with USSR included also wiping out China and every other significant non-aligned power. Why? Because some game theorist pointed out that if the US and USSR soaked off in a nuclear war, China would be the last power standing on the cinder. Can’t have that! Nuke China, too.

    Seriously, whenever US politicians say anything about nukes (regardless of whose) I want to puke.

  3. Jon G says

    Iran now holds sway over four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Sanaa, Beirut and Damascus. Shouldn’t that be concerning?|

  4. Holms says

    a) No it doesn’t.
    b) Even if it did, what makes that ‘concerning’? It is only a problem if we first assume that Iran is ‘bad’ but what is the basis for that assumption?

  5. sumdum says

    And how many countries does the USA hold sway over?
    Btw isn’t Netanyahoo’s speech an obvious part of knesset election campaigning?

  6. says

    Isn’t it so much nicer and quieter around here since slc clued into the fact that he isn’t welcome?

    To hear Christiane Amanpour be critical is surprising. If anyone in the US media favoured the return of the Shah’s family and friends to power in Iran, it’s her. Hers was one of the families connected to the Shah and benefitted from the regime.

  7. Holms says

    slc… War Crimes Apologist StevoR? Yes, though he still messes up any thread that happens to be about the middle east over at Dispatches.

  8. Mobius says

    Netanyahu was talking out of his ass in the speech he gave to Congress before the last Iraq war. Why does anyone think he is doing any differently now?

  9. lorn says

    “Apparently members of AIPAC and other groups in the Israel lobby monitor these events to make sure that members of congress are behaving properly and displaying suitable levels of ostentatious support for Israel.”

    Reminds me of a story from the Stalin-era Russia. The story goes that here would be people placed to notice who stopped clapping first after a speech. The first to stop would be escorted off and, more than once, never seen again. Stalin’s speeches were known for their length, and the long and enthusiastic clapping after. Forced to attend, you clapped like your life depended on it.

    Netanyahu’s point seemed to be that this isn’t the time to settle because dropping oil prices are causing the sanctions to hurt more than in the past and that if we waited we could get a better deal. Perhaps.

    His assertion that we have given up on keeping Iran, in any positive manner, from getting nuclear weapons is, IMHO correct but it can’t be helped. There is no way to positively keep them from nukes. We can’t remove the knowledge and, short of a protracted and in-depth invasion, an occupation of the concerned sites for at least a day or three, we can’t effectively destroy the production capability. Even if we did they could always rebuild. Bombing without invasion might buy us a few years. Invasion and detailed destruction of facilities might buy us a decade. In no case will we ever be able to stop them completely, if they are determined.

    Bottom line is that if Iran really wants nuclear weapons they will have them in a few years. A lot of really smart strategic annalists think Iran is trying to get within six months or a year of having an effective weapon. But that once there they will hold off. The thinking is that the option to have one in six months, without any prior warning, will give them maximum leverage with just enough ambiguity to get it at the lowest political cost.

    That is a mere six months, without warning, shy of a scenario where surrounding nations, Saudi Arabia and Egypt would demand to have their own nukes. The middle-east with added nukes. Oh … joy. Allahhu Akbar scrawled on the side of a nuke is a mental picture that scares a lot of people. If history is any guide it isn’t the US, or even Israel, that would be the most at risk. Fanatics tend to be hardest on their coreligionists.

  10. Nick Gotts says


    “slc” is colnago80; his nym used to be “slc1”. I was indeed surprised to find he had not left any of his droppings on this thread. He’s really gone?

    Jon G.@3,
    Iran certainly has influence in the four capitals you list, but to say it “holds sway” is a gross exaggeration; in all cases, it is local Shia forces which are important. And in Lebanon, they certainly do not control the capital: the Prime Minister and Acting President is Tammam Salam, a Sunni who is close to the “March 14 Alliance” which pushed Syria out of Lebanon, but is acceptable to the opposing “March 8 Alliance” which includes Iranian allies Hezbollah, alongside Christians, Sunnis and Druze (hint: Middle Eastern and particularly Lebanese politics is complicated -- analysis in terms of pro-western “goodies” and pro-Iranian “baddies” is likely to be inadequate). In Syria and Iraq, Iran backs the current Shia-dominated regimes, whose main enemy is ISIS/Daesh/Islamic State; so the US is currently in a de facto military alliance with Iran.

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