probably a good thing that Mike Huckabee doesn’t have any power
over questions of war and peace in the Middle East, because he said
this week that the U.S. had “a choice between war and dishonor
chose dishonor,” he declared in condemning the nuclear
agreement reached this month with Iran.
former Arkansas governor and erstwhile candidate once again in the
race for the Republican nomination for president was interviewed by
several national news outlets, after his charge that the agreement,
led by President Obama and negotiated by Secretary of State John
Kerry would lead Israel “to the door of the oven,” a
reference to Auschwitz or the Holocaust.
might be expected, Huckabee’s remarks, which he has repeated
over and over in the past several days, apparently has achieved his
goal for now: Taking the press’ focus from the outrageous
statements of Donald Trump and putting the spotlight on himself, as
he tries to rise from the middle reaches of the polls in the
Republican roster of presidential nomination candidates. He may
claim to be speaking aloud the sentiments of American Jews and the
Jewish people of Israel, he is not likely following their feelings
about the agreement too closely.
tried to liken the agreement, which is approved by many nations and
the United Nations, to the capitulation of Neville Chamberlain to
Hitler just before World War II, not everyone in either Israel or the
U.S. agrees with him. By citing the “choosing of dishonor”
statement, he was trying his best to emulate Winston Churchill, who
did make such a statement, in the same words. But Huckabee is no
Churchill, whose nation came under attack. Huckabee is by no means
either a national security or defense advisor to Obama or any other
head of state, and by no means does he serve in an advisory capacity
to the Israelis.
former governor has stated in recent days that he has visited
Auschwitz: “I have been to Auschwitz three times…I have
stood at that very place…” That’s like saying, “I
have been to the slave quarters. I know what slavery was like.”
Although criticism of his statement came from President Obama, and
from Democrats and Republicans, alike, along with many organizations,
including Jewish organizations, he said he would not apologize. He
did, however, take over the spotlight from Donald Trump, the real
estate mogul who decided just weeks ago to try a run for president as
a Republican and, in doing so, he took the lead in the polls over his
16 rivals for the post, with Huckabee trailing considerably behind.
Huckabee did not disclose the identity of his advisors on Middle East
policy (if he has any), they must not have done their homework.
According to the Jewish Daily Forward, there are splits on the Iran
nuclear agreement among those who generally are counted on to make
Israeli policy and they are not as quick to condemn the agreement as
the governor. One thing is for sure, Huckabee’s position on
the Iran agreement is in line with the thinking of Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that may be why the governor is so
adamant in his trashing of the agreement, which will come up for a
vote in Congress in the coming weeks.
Goldberg, writing in The Forward this week, referred to a “deep
crack” in what is commonly described as wall-to-wall support
for Netanyahu’s “war against the Iran nuclear agreement,”
and he names a number of current and former officials who depart from
the prime minister’s longtime near hysterical response to any
discussions with Iran, let alone negotiations over that nation’s
nuclear program. He cited as an example Ehud Barak, onetime chief of
Israel military intelligence, Israel Defense Forces, chief of staff,
and prime minister, was Netanyahu’s defense minister from 2009
to 2013 and helped develop Netanyahu’s Iran strategy.
that Israel is the strongest state in the region, Barak was quoted by
The Forward as saying, “The most important thing we need to do
right now is restore working relations with the White House. That’s
the only place where we can formulate what constitutes a violation
(of the agreement) what’s a smoking gun and how to respond.”
Few discuss the possession by Israel of nuclear weapons, the
estimated number of which varies, from 200-400, but an accurate count
is not possible, because it is an “open secret” and
Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.
(NPT), a treaty signed by 190 countries. Missing from the list are
India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and South Sudan.
months ago, Republican senators signed a letter to the Iranian
leadership, essentially saying that any agreement they reach with
President Obama about their nuclear program could be rescinded by the
next president. They wrote the letter in hope that the next
president would be a Republican. That letter was in the same
category of chutzpah as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner inviting
Netanyahu to speak before his chamber without so much as a note to
President Obama that he was inviting a head of state to enter the
country, something that the executive branch usually arranges.
Huckabee was not involved in any of these in-your-face offenses
toward Obama, but you can imagine he wishes he had been. His
“holocaust” remark was a way for him to disrespect the
president, yet again, even though he is a minor player in the
football squad that is running for the GOP nomination.
Israel’s “options open” by rejecting the agreement
on Iran’s nuclear program is a way to hold out the prospect of
bombing Iran if Netanyahu feels they have acted inappropriately.
After all, the prime minister had the tacit approval of such an
action from none other than Senator John McCain, who during the 2008
presidential campaign was heard to sing, “Bomb, bomb,
bomb…bomb, bomb Iran,” to the tune of an old popular
song, “Barbara Ann.”
too much has been heard from the GOP field of presidential hopefuls,
but most of them can be sure to be placed alongside Huckabee in their
effort to kill the Iran nuclear agreement. They have not made as
much of their opposition as the governor, whose intention is clear.
There are only two options for him: war or dishonor and he would
choose war, thinking that this would ingratiate him with Netanyahu
and big funders of Israel (and Right Wing candidates, mostly
Republican) like Sheldon Adelson, the business tycoon who dumps
millions into American elections. The would-be president from
Arkansas would not have to see his children in harm’s way, so
war would be a relatively easy choice for Huckabee, as it is with so
many who have themselves avoided military service.
the heat of a presidential campaign (as ridiculous as it is to start
campaigning a year-and-a-half before an election), anything can
happen and anything can be said, regardless of the facts or reality,
itself. Huckabee is a good example of this. Like many politicians
in their own countries, he ignores the American electorate and what
they may think of continuing endless war and, worse, he ignores the
opinions of the Israeli electorate, at least those who are not living
in a fog of abject fear. People seem to be more and more convinced
that diplomacy is more effective than war and want more of the
Middle East would not be the firebox that it is, if Iraq had not been
invaded by the Bush-Cheney Administration, an act seen by many around
the world as a war crime. The domino theory showed itself to be
alive and well in the aftermath of that tragedy, with the several
countries that have been destroyed or rendered inoperable, in
addition to the collapse of Iraq. Widespread violence in the region
has been the result.
Huckabee were sincere about his fears of Iran’s developing a
nuclear weapon in a dozen or 15 years (as has been predicted as the
earliest it would be possible by some top Israeli officials, military
and civilian), he might do well to address the tens of thousands of
nuclear weapons possessed by the U.S., Russia, and the other nuclear
nations. But that is not the governor’s game. He’s
running for a presidential nomination and that takes precedence.
this week’s story in The Forward reported about those Israelis
concerned about the Iran nuclear agreement, “All agree that
undermining Israel’s alliance with America is a far greater
existential threat than anything Iran does.” Huckabee should
listen…and do his homework.