Sunday, March 29, 2015

Petty armed politics versus a universal commitment to human life

Tuesday this week is the deadline for a nuclear "deal" with Iran, intended to hold the state sponsor of terrorism at bay, perhaps for a decade. Israel, through her Prime Minister, Netanyahu, expresses legitimate and profound fear, a truly existential fear, based on repeated contentions from various sources in Tehran to "wipe Israel off the map".
Today, the Arab League announced a proposed united military force potentially to send troops into Yemen, allegedly to restore the government of that country, but really to counter the Iranian support for the Houthi rebels who are trying to take over that country. Fear, by the Arab League (Sunni), including the Sunni regime of Saudi Arabia, of Iranian (Shia) hegemony's growth on the backs of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas both of which the Iranians support, whether linked to Israeli fear, or in competition with it, motivates many of the Arab League members.
In the west, fear both of a deal with the Iranians and of a failure to reach a deal, provides the counterpoint of the partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress.
Paradoxes abound, in a cauldron of fear, especially in the unravelling Middle East. Generals from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are, at the invitation of the government in Baghdad, fighting alongside Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and most likely in Syria. American, Canadian, British and French bombers are dropping bombs on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, seemingly pitting Iran and the 'west' as enemies in common against Sunni terrorists. Simultaneously, the dictator clinging to power in Syria, Assad, is fighting both ISIS and Syrian rebels who seek to overthrow the dictator, ironically supported by enemies from the west who want him ousted, claims that the west wants to destabilize Syria, but seeks dialogue with the U.S. according to the interview he did with Charlie Rose this week, for CBS 60 Minutes. Assad too is supported by Iran, in this witches brew that would challenge that of the Witches in MacBeth for both complexity and toxicity. Meanwhile, Assad's supporter, (and Iran's ally), Putin, claims that the west is attempting to destabilize Russia, as part of his defence of his actions in the Crimea and East Ukraine. (Two obvious questions: Do Assad and Putin have the same PR firm? And is Iran the real agent of destabilization in a Middle East rife with chaos?
The release of sanctions on Iran, so desperately sought by that regime, is apparently a primary condition of Iran's agreeing to a nuclear deal. Simultaneously, John Boehner has announced that, immediately upon the return of the U.S. House from the Easter break, he will introduce a bill to ramp up sanctions on Iran, both signalling a rough sea ahead for any potential deal with Iran in the U.S. Congress.
Netanyahu, for his part, denounces any deal or a prospect of a deal with Iran, as permission for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon citing that even a ten-year monitoring clause will neither prevent nor foreclose on Iran's military nuclear ambitions.
The U.S., for its part, is in danger of becoming embroiled on both sides of a proxy way, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League (on one side) with Iran, Assad, and the terrorists backed by Iran, on the other.
Israel has to be wondering about the legitimacy of its alliance with the United States, and the rest of the world has to be wondering if the White House really knows how dangerous is their obsession to reach a deal with Iran. On the one hand, Obama claims that no deal would be a far greater threat than any deal. Would it? Only time will tell. If Iran faces ramped up sanctions, in the event no deal is reached, or if any deal reached is sabotaged by the U.S. Congress, would that result in ramped up "pay-back" through increased overt activity among the Iranian-supported terror groups? If Iran faces a world in which no deal is reached, would that pave the way for that regime to proceed unimpeded toward the development of as many centrifuges as they want, resulting in an even shorter time frame for them to develop both a nuclear bomb and the missile capacity to fire one? Whether a deal is reached or not, would Israel view each scenario as so dangerous that it must attack Iran's existing nuclear capacity, and would such an attack bring in Putin, in a much wider proxy war, from which the U.S. would likely be unable to sit on the sidelines?
American addiction to the business model for both its government and its economy has resulted in the export/sale/treaties/peace-deals with other countries, especially in the Middle East, or American weapons, technology and parts for repair. Those pieces of hardware are now the means by which the agents of terror are taking and sustaining their mayhem. Clearly, there is no international agreement that arms sales are restricted or punished and the American "leadership" on this file is not merely a business arrangement.
Arms production, sale and distribution is a cultural convention so deeply embedded in a country whose vision excludes responsibility for the mayhem those American weapons is now wreaking. Not only are corporate profits a rationale for the "business" but also foreign policy is dependent on this obsession by the government.   Americans are unwilling, and perhaps even unable to acknowledge their complicity in the culture of military, quasi-military, and even terrorist attitudes and actions around the world. American blows its horn as the most "advanced" civilization on the planet, citing the many scientific achievements of her history, along with the veneer of democracy that has functioned on Capitol Hill for two centuries, but is now threatened by the tsunami of cash that can and will purchase public policy by the far right.
Canada, conversely to a history of taking a "different path" from that of the militaristic Pentagon, is now deeply embedded in fighting alongside the United States, neither of which country has announced any long-term goal following the defeat of ISIS.
The public is our last resort in demanding some serious changes in the philosophy of militarism as an answer to our conflicts, the international responsibility to restrict and even ban arms sales as an instrument of foreign policy, the need for an international commitment to universal education, universal elimination of hunger and poverty, the need for a much broader and deeper commitment to international legal processes and protocols (including the U.S. signature of commitment to the International Criminal Court, and the International Court, and an initiative to seek and to secure philanthropic funding not only for health care initiatives but also for enhanced international and universal structures and processes that address problems faced by all humanity.
Fear mandates the pursuit of power; powerlessness is at the root of all fears and the world already knows that hard power is no answer to that fear. In fact it is an impediment to the reduction and the elimination of that fear. Human beings, of all colours, ethnicities, religions and political ideologies now face both a military cauldron that threatens to impale us all, an environmental cauldron that threatens to suffocate us all, and an integrity deficit that threatens to blind us all. Petty politics, whether based on a list of wedge issues, or based on minor economic and tax policies, or in a differential response to world market prices (as in the current drop in oil prices) or based on a fundamental and divisive divide between Shia and Sunni, foreshadow a future map into more dark caves of danger, disregard for human life and potentially our shared demise.
Is that the kind of future we are prepared to accept from politicians addicted to their own narcissistic, even if nationalistically supported, egos? 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Endangered species: middle and lower classes, as a slime of cash flows to cover our collective swamp

A recent defection from the ranks of the NFL after only one year in uniform, by a college graduate in History, because at twenty-four he was afraid that his life would be seriously impaired through concussions if he stayed in the game, Chris Borland has shone the spotlight on both concussions and the future of high profile professional sports.
"I just honestly want to do what's best for my health," said Borland, who met with prominent concussion researchers before making his decision. "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk." 
Borland, 24, said he has been diagnosed with two concussions in his life -- once while playing soccer in eighth grade and again while playing football during sophomore year of high school. He said he believed he might have suffered a third concussion during training camp, but played through it because of his concern about making the team as a third-round pick out of Wisconsin. (By Chris Hanzus, in Around the NFP, March 16, 2015)
The millions that Borland could and likely would have earned as a star linebacker was not worth the risk he believed he was taking with his health, and potentially his life by continuing to play this highly impact sport.
Just today, I listened to a sports reporter on the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC, Dave Zirin, Sports Editor for The Nation. His primary topic was advocating for a sharing among the players of the massive amounts of cash that accrue to U.S. universities from the March Madness Basketball Tournament. Zirin even called the hoarding of that cash by the universities, their ferreting it offshore in tax haven accounts and paying their coaches millions as generating another form of slavery, especially given that most of the NCAA basketball players are black. Zirin cited the retirement of Chris Borland from the NFL as an early warning sign of what might be coming in the not-to-distant future...that the better educated NFL players would likely withdraw their services, leaving lower and middle class athletes, once again primarily black, playing football in front of primarily rich white patrons.
Talking to a cab driver in New York city only two weeks ago, we heard him tell us that he clearly can not afford to attend a game of either the New York Knicks basketball team nor the New York Rangers hockey team, both sport events engaging highly paid athletes to entertain the most wealthy among us. The rest of us are relegated to the TV sets in our recreation rooms or our favourite pubs on game night.
Back to Zirin's advocacy for college basketball and football players sharing in the revenues generated by their games, most of them receiving, for what they are worth, "free education" as a token payment for their continued participation in college athletics. However, he noted, that with extensive practice times and extended travel, the educational value of their degree is considerably diluted.
To be clear, we do not share Zirin's passion for paying college athletes to play the sports they love and are highly adept and skilled to play. However, the rivers of cash that are flowing from sponsors into both the university and college athletic programs and later into the professional leagues has so rusted the reputation of what was once a low-budget affair, especially on campuses across America.
From NCAA championship, up from single digits for the last several decades. Also we have witnessed the development of a "basketball academy" in Orangeville Ontario, developed to attract highly talented basketball players from high schools across the province of Ontario.
Elitism, in athletics clearly is like a magnet to sports equipment manufacturers, sports agents, beverage companies, snack companies and sports retailers. Endorsements bring the big contracts to the top performers in the professional leagues. Paying the college athletes, while not yet completely established may put the brakes on a few who would otherwise turn professional after only a single year of college competition, but would certainly transform the learner-institution relationship to that of employer-employee.
Protection of "student status" as opposed to "employee" or even "consumer" as has been witnessed in most other facets of contemporary American/Canadian life, is an issue that few who advocate for paid college athletes consider carefully. A student/learner is, by definition, an apprentice, and if the academic side of his/her life is to be the top priority for both the university and the student, that apprenticeship is in his chosen field of study. S/He is not apprentice to LeBron James, nor to Payton Manning (NFL quarterback of Denver Broncos); the athletic portion of his/her development has to remain secondary to his/her academic/professional curriculum.
Of course, mine is a purist, 'old school' argument in favour of maintaining academics, and not merely job training as a pillar of a society in which we are able and willing to retain and to pass on the discipline of rigorous discernment between such categories as student and employee, or learner and consumer.
It is the morphing of the universities themselves into cash cows, sycophants to the corporations, to the sports equipment companies, to the pharmaceutical companies, to the plethora of "cash-cows" whose "beneficence" is really blatant advertising, recruiting, tax-dodging and academic control, not only of the personnel whose lecturing occurs under the banners of their name plates, but also of the nature of the research that can and is conducted with the grants from those companies.
Ford Motor Company, for example, does not want an engineering school to study the defects in their cars, in laboratories funded by the Ford Foundation. Glaxo-Smith-Kline does not want its university grants going to discover the risks and dangers inherent in its high-profile drugs that are underwriting company profits, dividends and pension plans.
It is not only the short-term "costs" of paying college athletes, but also the long-term costs of segregating the wealthy spectators from those in the middle and lower classes that endangers both the athletes and the sports in which they are engaged, not to mention the kind of society which harbours and fosters a "we-them" division between the have's and the have-not's.
Gladiators (from the lower and middle classes) entertaining the wealthy spectators, while it may feed the narcissism of those wealthy enough to take advantage of that opportunity, is not a society in which high-calibre athletics is available to wide range of society demographics.
Two-tiered health care, two-tiered sports entertainment, two-tiered education, and two-tiered legal systems are not the stuff on which the founding patrons of societies on both sides of the 49th parallel  based their visions for their respective countries.
If they had wanted oligarchies, they would have so structured their original documents and traditions. However, given that money flows increasingly to the top, (as does the slime in stagnant ponds), we are in danger of depriving our collective swamp of the oxygen needed to breath to sustain life, in all of its forms, including human forms.
And, as the slime grows to cover the whole surface of our "swamp" more and more species will be denied the basic necessities of life while those on top of the slime will grow increasingly desensitized even to our existence, never mind our basic needs.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Personal control still exists over our own apathy, indifference and engagement in our own governance.

There were two moves made and announced by Putin's Kremlin this week:
first he is moving bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons into Crimea;
second, he has taken off the table the former Soviet Union commitment never to strike first with nuclear the words of his spokesman, "no more illusions"...
In a week in which 19 innocent tourists are gunned down in an art museum in Tunisia, (ISIS is the suspected group), Netanyahu spewing racial epithets about 'hordes of Arabs turning out to vote in a brazen (and apparently successful) move to hold onto power while rejecting a Palestinian state so long as he is in charge, Putin celebrates the one year anniversary of the Russian take-over of Crimea, and the continuing threat to eastern Ukraine, along with the commitment to "protest" Russian people wherever they live.
However, against a backdrop of perpetual civil war that has already killed 220,000 in Syria, where Putin's ally Assad remains in power, and (Putin's ally) Iranian generals fighting ISIS in Iraq (making Iran a short-term ally with the west against ISIS) while negotiating with the Group of 5 Plus 1 over nuclear centrifuges, and the Israeli elections grabbing headlines, Putin's moves are effectively buried, serving Putin's motives even further.
The loudest voices among the western media, especially in the United States, too often in their blatant pandering for readers and viewers, to support the advertising sales force, provide millions of people with a worldview that is slanted to the parochial and instant-gratification needs of a simplistic stick-drawing of what is going on in the world.
Frequently, the serious press in Great Britain is providing a more balanced and even perhaps more frightening picture of the dangers of a leader like Putin.
In Canada, the federal government's talking heads, reading the prepared talking points spewed out of the Prime Minister's office, are so fixated on Islamic terror threats, (although they did strongly rhetorically condemn Putin's coup in Crimea and are sending non-lethal support to the government in Kiev) and the passage of their Bill C-51 which attempts to provide the authorities more leverage in their search and detecting and arrest and punishment of those committed to a terrorist agenda. Not incidentally, many Canadian academics and former supreme court justices, not to mention former prime ministers, have all come out in protest of the proposed legislation as an assault on personal freedoms, just as the Prime Minister announces his government's intention to expand and extend the current commitment to fighting ISIS in Iraq, likely to include joining the fight in Syria, possible enlarged forces in both countries and, facing a national vote in October, extending the term to as long as nine or twelve months or perhaps even longer.
The media coverage of the fine print of Bill C-51 is lost in the managed fog of another government announcement that brings the public news cycle back to the terrorist threat, both as a cover for the potential loss of personal freedom that will result from passage of the bill (guaranteed with the government's majority) and also as a way for the government to reassure its political base, those whose trust in their government exceeds what should be the legitimate scepticism and even cynicism that the public expects from the fourth estate.
So here is a democratically elected prime minister taking advantage (and also taking strategic and tactical steps to manage) of the news cycle and the capacity both of the reporters to cover and the public to digest so many details that his government is more able to survive even a public protest of considerable proportions. And if we are watching that kind of "governance" in an open and free society, (albeit the government is openly funded primarily by large corporate interests, especially those of oil and gas) imagine the breadth of the "road" Putin can and does travel where he controls the primary media services, along with the "oiligarchy" (not a typo) that props him in power in return for continuing to participate in the flow of wealth his government has created and sustained.
We bemoan the failed states in which governance has fallen to war lords and to small civilian cells seizing weapons and threatening the official governments, while we watch, seemingly helplessly, while our own countries are manipulated, deceived, misled and fed a diet of talking points that almost universally ignores and/or denies the protests contained in the questions being asked by the reporters.
A similar fog of denial has begun to set in inside our workplaces, where and when a mis-step is openly reported for discussion and for acknowledgement, that mis-step is immediately transferred to another, talked over with irrelevant blather, and/or the topic is changed to avoid a full discussion of the background to the specific mis-step that began the conversation.
We are peddling a pervasive and invasive and cancerous culture of escaping responsibility.
We are, at the same time, enabling any who seek power, legitimate or illegitimate, to seize that power over weaker foes (real or imagined) with impunity, accompanied by the fog of war which dictates that the first casualty is truth.
In Canada, and countries with a history of democracy, the government is far better funded to fend off protests even those from former supreme court judges and former prime ministers, than are the protestors to sustain their protest. Hence the growing flood of cash from the right-wing moguls to potential and current legislators from whom they expect and will get their agenda approved.  In a Moscow that was once purportedly moving to a more democratic form of governance under Gorbachev, Putin enjoys an approval rating of well over 80%, demonstrating beyond doubt the capacity of power/money/inner circle to take over a population regardless of the methods and goals of that government. If Putin's real goal is, for the moment, to destabilize Ukraine, and thereby to provide him with an opportunity "engineered" by the Kremlin to take the country over, ignoring and snubbing the protests of those citing broken treaties signed by Russia, with Putin's signature, then he is demonstrating the triumph of lawlessness over civil society. He is, singlehandedly, whether purposefully or simply opportunistically, playing into the hands of, while taking advantage of, the turbulence and the chaos that Islamic terrorists are generating and the media's decreasing capacity to provide a comprehensive world view for ordinary people living in all countries.
While the medical community is moving forthrightly toward "precision treatment" as opposed to "once size fits all" in cancer treatments, the world is in danger of losing a comprehensive and detailed and balanced view of the conditions under which we are working, living and attempting to sustain a world safe for our grandchildren. The danger is that, overwhelmed with partial information tidal waves, the various publics and ethnicities and tribal entities will move into the vacuum created by the withdrawal of "the body public" and the "public square".
Just yesterday, I listened as a young man recounted the tale of the devastation of his "town square" by a tornado in Ontario, complete with its rebuilding at public expense, and today see his story as a metaphor for the tornado of almost indigestible data that is dividing (through the inserting of wedge issues), distorting (through a narrow focus on the immediate headlines) and destroying (through a combination of both division and distortion the capacity of ordinary people to truly hold their government to account.
Responsible government, over which our country has fought wars, is in danger of slipping through our hands, while many of us turn our attention to our digital devices, our parties and drinks, and our personal and private cocoons. Through our indifference, might we be playing into the hands of those who "govern", by creating conditions which make excessive over-reach both possible and free of impunity.
Nuclear weapons are dangerous; Islamic terrorists are dangerous; microbes that are resistant to antibiotics are dangerous; our individual indifference, apathy and withdrawal could prove to be the lynch-pin that gives power to the most dangerous. And we still have complete control over our capacity to engage, to participate and to debate. If we are to tame the several beasts that are baying at our front doors, we are going to have to join in a global effort to push back, in the name of the "public good".

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pushing back against serious head winds

“There’s plenty of money for billions of dollars in subsidies for big oil companies. There’s plenty of money for special breaks for the owners of thoroughbred racehorses. There’s plenty of money for extra deals for the folks who run NASCAR racetracks,” she said. “So why is there no money to make our country work? I’ll tell you why. It’s because the game is rigged.”
After her speech, she joined Massachusetts firefighters for a photo, then gave an impromptu speech about the outrage that “you are out there with your begging bowls” while billions in tax breaks go to corporations. “We are in trouble,” she said. “We are up against the ropes. … We’ve got to have fundamental change.” (Senator Elizabeth Warren, speaking to the convention of the International Firefighters in Washington this week, written by Dana Milbank, syndicated columnist in the Olympian, March 14, 2015)While we heartily endorse both the passion and the veracity of Warren's words, (and she speaks them whenever anyone is listening!) we have to point out to some very ominous warnings off the bow of the Democratic Party ship These include:
  • the jerry-mandering of too many districts on both racial  bias and economic segregation that endanger too many potential Democratic candidates,
  • shiploads of loose cash from suppliers like the Koch brothers for Republican right-wing "wing-nuts",
  • a social and cultural ethos that reeks of cynicism, contempt, bias against the underbelly of the American melting pot, and eight years of gridlock in Washington.
  • Add to this cocktail of swirling headwinds, a world gone ape over the Islamic radical terror movement whose tentacles reach into every city, town and district in most countries and the most intelligent and powerful voices pushing back really do not know how to curb or certainly to annihilate this scourge.

The news cycles are engulfed with stories of:
  • new alliances between Boko Harram and ISIS,
  •  beheadings of hostages by ISIS, seductive recruiting of young girls to join the terrorists in Syria from Great Britain, for example,
  • the capture and murder of dozens in northeastern Nigeria,
  • Hillary Clinton's private email account (not a government account) while she was Secretary of State,
  • missing firings by North Korea,
  • ambushed knife cuts to the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea,
  • the Iranian ayatollah's denunciation of the disintegration of the American political ethics as displayed by the letter from 47 Republican lawmakers attempting to derail negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons, 
  • and the always nefarious moves and motives of Vladimir Putin, whose whereabouts seem a mystery this week.

There is a crowded public stage for a message like the one Elizabeth Warren is attempting to deliver. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is also attempting to deliver a similar message, and finding the volume of competing voices muffling his earnest efforts.
The United States, and indeed the world, is facing a serious list of forks in the road to its future. Amid the growing coalescence among the opposition to Islamic terror, and the announcements of international rumblings of attempts to curb global warming and climate change, and serious fledging discoveries to detect and treat various human illnesses, the burgeoning plethora of humanitarian non-profits, the UN Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating poverty and hunger everywhere in fifteen years while protecting the environment, there is a sense of both ill-ease and ill-will that infects so many discussions about the way out of our dilemmas. Also, increasingly, we are all being impacted by forces that touch the whole world, as no single important issue is contained or containable within narrow boundaries.
The have's not only get the tax breaks that Warren is talking about, they also want to destroy many of the public institutions that hold the society together. Too many of them believe that government is an impediment to fundamental human liberty, not a partner in the pursuit of common goals and the reduction and even elimination of shared problems. Plutocracies are becoming normalized in front of our eyes. The gap between the salaries of CEO's and ordinary working 'stiffs' is the highest in history. Deniers of climate change and global warming are demanding a hands-off approach by governments in order to protect their corporate profits. Many public leaders, some of them seeking the highest office in the United States are determined to destroy the labour movement and the protections it has sought and achieved over a century-plus of committed conflict on behalf of workers.
Writing in the Globe and Mail, Director of the Munk School of International Relations at the University of Toronto, Stephen Toope opines:
In our era, the mantra is “disruption.” We expect to upgrade our electronic devices every year or two, so anything that’s been around for a long time seems static and boring. For many young adults, social connections are organized virtually and participation in formal structures like clubs or political parties is unattractive. Although there is much evidence that these young people hold strong opinions and care as much about the world as previous generations did, engagement patterns show a shift toward private actions such as signing petitions, “liking” advocacy campaigns, boycotting and making online micro-contributions to support causes.
At the same time, trust in institutions, such as Parliament, the civil service, religious bodies, unions, corporations and schools, continues to reach new lows. Hierarchy is seen as inherently bad, and ever-expanding demands for “accountability” mean that distrust in public officials is baked into the system. Fewer and fewer people are voting. The downward trend is most dramatic among those between the ages of 18 and 35....
But ironically, today’s most powerful strains of distrust in institutions, especially public institutions, are found on the right of the political spectrum. Anti-government libertarians argue that all public authority destroys liberty. Even in mainstream conservative circles, explicit policy seeks to shrink the capacity of the civil service.
Advocates for “smaller government” do not differentiate among the costs of security, military, foreign service, development aid and public services such as education, health and immigrant resettlement. For these advocates, reduction is required across the board. People are no longer called “citizens” but “taxpayers,” to encourage them to see the shrinkage of public institutions as in their interest.
Today, forces of technological innovation, with their inevitable promotion of disruption, meld with elements of the political left seeking an end to hierarchy and a right committed to the reduction of publicly provided goods. The product is an increasingly powerful frontal attack on the institutions that have helped build a land of inclusion and relatively distributed opportunity, and sustained a strong social fabric for generations.(Stephen Toope, Globe and Mail, March 11, 2015)
It is not only against the tidal wave of news stories that focus on the latest human tragedy and the PAC support for right wing candidates that people like Elizabeth Warren have to compete. It is a culture that is becoming more committed to 'destructionism" of the public institutions and the total demise of the public square, masked by short-term seductions of the masses (much like the traditions of Madison Avenue's advertising of sizzle and not steak).
In western countries like Canada and the United States, voices like those of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Stephen Toope need to be heard, reflected upon, and even acted upon if we are to reverse a trend that could, if not moderated and rebuffed, engulf us all in a series of gordion knots from which we could be unable and unwilling to extricate ourselves.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflections on Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress

So Benjamin Netanyahu threw out the conventional rule book, thumbing his nose at President Barack Obama, responding positively to the Boehner invitation to address the U.S. Congress in vehement protest against any potential deal with Iran over the production of fissionable material sufficient to create a nuclear weapon. Not only does the Israeli Prime Minister, just two weeks before his own national election, express total distrust for Iran, he also significantly squeezed the Obama administration into a very narrow opening in any attempt they will have to make to convince the American people, including Congress, of the validity of a new agreement with Iran. Of course, Netanyahu considers Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Iran's support for President Assad of Syria, along with the open and defiant support of Putin's Russia for all of those forces, an existential threat to the existence of Israel. And he is probably right in that part of his calculation.
However, not a word has been written or spoken since the Tuesday speech, about Israel's own possession of nuclear weapons. In fact, that possession of nuclear weapons, a benefit of the historic relationship with the United States, is a highly impacting factor in the mess that is the Middle East.
Not only is Israel's nuclear arsenal kept "secret" for all intents and purposes, but it raises the stakes in a potentially explosive cauldron that includes various degrees of  anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic sentiment, including practice, policy and even intimate parts of Muslim school curriculum in too many Saudi-funded schools for Muslim young men, primarily. This is not to say that Iran is committed to the acquisition of nuclear weapons for the sole reason that Israel already has them. It is, however, not rocket science to suspect that Israel's nuclear arsenal doe not go without serious notice being taken by all Muslim countries, leaders and people.
Why did Mr. Netanyahu not acknowledge the existence of his nuclear arsenal in his speech before the U.S.Congress?
Why does the United States itself, not take the cloak of secrecy of the Israeli stash of nuclear weapons?
If the world is ever going to de-escalate the increasingly tempestuous political and military and terror-filled cauldron that is the Middle East, surely the Israeli nuclear weapons will have to be disclosed, and even negotiated downwards, in terms of numbers, and even in terms of the potential damage they could inflict.
And yet, acting as the new "Churchill" in a context very different from that of 1938-9, Netanyahu plays his hand on the side of the Republican hawks in the Congress, while snubbing the one ally that mid-wifed Israel in its birth, and continues to "have her back" no matter how insulting and immature the Israeli Prime Minister's actions continue to be. However, back home, Netanyahu's political opponent Tzipi Livni, publicly notes that Israel now will have to "restore" the relationship with the United States, following the election. Obama wisely, and in a very restrained manner, did not appear in the same space with Netanyahu on this most recent trip, arguing both that he did not want to intervene in the internal political life of Israel and that Netanyahu did not provide a viable alternative to the negotiations currently underway in Switzerland between Iran and the Group of 5 plus 1. The treaty, if reached, would have to be ratified by the United Nations Security Council, and even if Iran signs and then usurps a treaty, at least the international community is on the hook to provide both effective monitoring and increased sanctions in the event of Iranian default.
The whole world is both watching and squirming as this process unfolds before our eyes. Of course, the integrity of the Iranian administration is in question. Both Israel and the Group of 5+1 agree on that. Both sides also agree that Iran must not possess, acquire or acquire the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Such a move would significantly disturb the already shaky balance of power in the new and turbulent and evolving, (if not actually in revolution) Middle East.
The whole world is worried that one of the many iterations of Islamic terrorism will acquire a loose nuclear weapon, while this political theatre of negotiations with Iran plays itself out, in a time of enhanced economic sanctions, fully aware that a similar approach by the west with North Korea plowed headfast into a determination by North Korea to develop and even to export nuclear weapons.
There are both literally and metaphorically no good options, in the search for a path to thwart Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, and/or the capability of developing such weapons.
However, continue to act, speak and even to think or deny the existence of a substantial nuclear arsenal by Israel, while chest thumping about the dangers implicit in a nuclear-empowered Iran is one of the more hypocritical acts by any political axis, and that axis here refers to the United States and Israel.
Israel's existence must be protected, preserved, defended and assured, not only for the Israeli people, but for the future of the preservation of law, international justice and the potential implicit in personal and political freedom of existence for all. However, such a goal, worthy in its essential nature, requires that its not only exists but grows in its capacity to depend less and less on the possession of nuclear weapons. It also depends on Israel's willingness and courage to disclose not only the existence of that arsenal but the potential willingness to reduce its size, and even its potential deployment, as part of an overall vision of a new and improved, and less dangerous Middle East.
And Mr. Netanyahu, while he may have made some short-term political points through his speech, nevertheless, failed to achieve the kind of statesmanlike stature that the world so desperately needs at this very explosive time in our history.