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Susan Rice: Choking on a Gnat

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Even in a Senate then controlled by Democrats, President Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan E. Rice, could not be confirmed as his second term Secretary of State. That’s because she notoriously went on five Sunday television news talk shows to claim that the September 11, 2012 attack on our diplomatic compound at Benghazi was provoked by an anti-Islamic video. It soon became clear that cover story was false. She was then our Ambassador to the UN.


Now, Amb. Rice is on TV making news again. She told PBS’s Charlie Rose that the address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress slated for next week “injected a degree of partisanship” into the U.S.-Israeli alliance that was “destructive to the fabric of the relationship.”

Let’s hope Amb. Rice goes on all five Sunday shows again to level that charge. That should certainly build the audience for the Prime Minister’s address. She needs a bigger audience than just those insomniac liberals who watch Charlie Rose.

Has there ever been a greater example of swallowing camels while choking on a gnat? The gnat, of course, is the invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress. President Obama’s supporters are furious, claiming it is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli leader to stick a spoke in the wheels of the U.S.-Iran negotiations over nuclear weapons. And, the speech to Congress has been dismissed by Mr. Obama’s backers as a partisan gesture by Netanyahu just days before Israel’s scheduled elections. Campaign operatives who helped Barack Obama win back-to-back victories here are known to be in Israel now, working for Netanyahu’s opponents.

If the Obama administration is so confident of the rightness of its position in the U.S.-Iran talks, why should it worry what Mr. Netanyahu thinks? If their position in the talks could clearly command the assent of the American people, President Obama could simply go on national TV and proclaim the final agreement as a victory for “peace in our time.”


This president, as Newsweek editor Evan Thomas famously said, “hovers over the nations like a sort of god.” Surely, President Obama would be more persuasive in selling a nuclear pact with Iran’s mullahs than Netanyahu might be in criticizing it. Mr. Obama—in his best professorial style—could simply take apart the Netanyahu speech, one paragraph at a time. He is so eloquent, the seas have ceased to rise at sound of his voice. Or so we were promised.

If Amb. Rice is choking on a gnat—the invitation to Netanyahu, its timing, its location, its appearance of partisanship—then what is the camel we are supposed to swallow? Let’s try this:

President Obama and Secretary Kerry are about to conclude an agreement with Iran’s mullahs to that will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon now but will allow them to “phase out” strict limits on their nuclear program. This plan, if inked, and if ratified by the Senate, would permit Iran to move toward a nuclear weapon in the “out years” of the ten-year agreement.

Messers Obama and Kerry are working with an Iranian leadership that seized our embassy in Tehran in 1979. They held our 52 embassy staff hostage for 444 days. They subjected them to beatings and to psychological torture—like frequent mock executions before firing squads. The mullahs hold our embassy property—sovereign U.S. territory under international law—to this day. Messers Obama and Kerry want us to trust the mullahs who murdered 241 U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen as they slept in their Beirut barracks in 1983. They want us to rely on the good words of mullahs who have equipped Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon with 50,000 missiles to fire at Israel. Our crack negotiators want us to wave away the regular “Death to America” rallies ginned up by the muillahs in Tehran. Their agent, Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah, welcomes the exodus of European Jews arriving in Israel because, as he says, “it will save us the trouble of hunting them down.”


President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Amb. Rice are not asking us to swallow a camel. They are asking us to swallow a herd of camels. While they fussily object to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress, they are lurching toward an agreement that leaves his country in mortal peril—and very possibly our own nation, too. That is what Netanyahu is likely to explain. Kerry has been wrong on every foreign policy issue of the last forty years. His presence at the negotiating table should give no one confidence.

On one point, however, I can agree with this administration. As a sign of their displeasure, the Obama administration is removing the Vice President from the evening’s proceedings during the Prime Minister’s speech. President Obama is right to pluck Joe Biden from his customary chair. Just the thought of Netanyahu’s presence in the well of the House, and Biden’s absence from the chamber, assures that the intelligence of Congress will be doubly enhanced.

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