Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts on Netanyahu speech at UN

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has just delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Specifically noting the theological foundation of the 12th Imam (the Mahdi), Netanyahu explained why he believes that there's a fundamental difference between the former Soviet Union and the Iranian theocracy. One believes in life as a construct that defines its own existential purpose. The other believes in life as inherently subject to the larger service of God's existence. For Netanyahu, this means that Iran's leadership cannot be codified as rational by traditional notions of analysis. To some degree at least, he has a point here. The centrality of 'the sacrifice of the self for the service of the faith' is crucial to Shia Islamists like the Lebanese Hizballah and the Iranian regime. This is an ideology which finds physical representation each year at the day of 'Ashura'. Netanyahu's great fear? In pursuit of eliminating Israel and 'liberating' Jerusalem, Iran's leaders would embrace death as the successful culmination of their human existence.

Having articulated the ideological underpinnings of the Iranian regime, Netanyahu passionately argued why he believed a 'red line' would be necessary to prevent Iran's continued nuclear pursuit. Using a deliberately simple diagram, Netanyahu affirmed that he would take action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. This was a message designed for an unmistakable translation- Israel will use military force if diplomacy fails.

Whatever one thinks of Netanyahu's policy or his understanding of the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, in political terms, this was foreign policy messaging at its best - Compelling and determined.

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