It is a cliché that politics makes for strange bedfellows but surely one of the strangest is that between the hardline pro-Israel evangelicals in the US on the one hand and the extreme right-wing politicians in Israel and their neoconservative allies and the Israel lobby in the US on the other. The strong bonds between them are not based on any fondness for each other but purely due to each side seeing the other as serving its own interests.
These evangelical groups like CUFI (Christians United for Israel) and its leader John Hagee are firm believers in the End Times theology and look forward to the imminent arrival of Jesus who will return to save the righteous and destroy the wicked. Some of the signs of that the Apocalypse are that there will be the turmoil in the Middle East (thus a war with Iran would be seen by them as a good thing) and the occupation of the entire biblical region of Israel by Jews and their total control of the city of Jerusalem. Hence CUFI is fully in support of the expansionist policies of the hardline Israeli politicians who want the same things, and is opposed to anything that will advance the cause of peace.
This support is not due to any love of the Jewish people. On the contrary, one rarely-mentioned fact is that when the Apocalypse does arrive, Jews will have to convert or be destroyed like the rest of us heathen.
So why do hardline Israeli groups welcome an alliance with a group that eagerly anticipates their fiery death? I suspect that it is because they rightly don’t take this Apocalypse nonsense seriously but see these groups as serving a useful purpose in providing a strong base of support in the US. So each side is using the other for its own ends while feigning love.
So it should be no surprise that the deal with Iran that would push back the chances of war in the region is not being viewed well and that there are serious attempts by both sides of this strange alliance to scuttle the deal.
Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept have obtained a recording of a call between Bret Stephens, a neoconservative editor of the Wall Street Journal, and the leaders of the CUFI strategizing on how to defeat the Iran deal. Because the people involved thought the conversation was off-the-record, they spoke more freely and it provides a revealing window on their thinking and an answer as to why they are so vehemently opposed to the deal.
The answer to that question illustrates why the surface “debate” over the Iran deal is so illusory and pointless: As usual with neocons, they are being deceitful about their actual intent. They don’t want a “better deal”: at least not one that’s plausible. They want to keep Iran isolated and demonized and ultimately to depose its leadership through war or other means of aggression. They hate the Iran deal precisely because it’s likely to avert that aggression and normalize the world’s relations with that country, making the war they’ve long craved much less likely.
It’s worth listening to Stephens speak in a setting where (he thought) the rules ensured that he would never be heard. It gives some insight into how neocons actually think and what they’re saying when talking only to one another.
Greenwald also points out that Stephens concedes that support for the Iraq war is now seen as politically toxic, something that in public they still tout as a great thing.
Those who buy into the idea that the current deal should be scuttled and replaced with a ‘better’ one are playing into this strategy. What these people really want is to make Iran an offer that it must refuse so that war becomes more likely.