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Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu | speech | Mike Rogers | Michael Doran

Rogers and Doran: Obama Treating Netanyahu Like an Adversary

Rogers and Doran: Obama Treating Netanyahu Like an Adversary
(Andrew Harrer/DPA/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 02 March 2015 09:21 AM EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech before Congress is "the act of a true and courageous friend," and Americans and the White House need to hear his words on Iran, former Rep. Mike Rogers and Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, say in an opinion piece for Politico Monday.

"When a president turns a deaf ear to a good friend bearing an inconvenient message, he works against his own interests, whether he realizes it or not," they write.

At least 30 Democrats say they will boycott Netanyahu's address to Congress on Tuesday because of the way it was arranged. House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader without first consulting the White House, which called the invitation a political move.

Some prominent names are included in the boycott, including Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as president of the Senate and Secretary of State John Kerry. Both said they will be on overseas trips, saying that is their official reason for missing the speech.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama says he won't meet with Netanyahu because his speech is occurring two weeks before the Israeli elections, and he doesn't want it to look like he is interfering.

The White House has publicly demanded that Netanyahu cancel the speech, write Rogers and Doran, but canceling the event would mean nothing and would have caused Netanyahu to make a "humbling gesture of obeisance" to the same administration that has been working to diminish him.

And with the Israeli leader being up for re-election on March 17, Obama is trying to prove to Israeli voters that Netanyahu can't manage relations with the United States, they write.

"If Netanyahu were to phone Obama, apologize and cancel the appearance before Congress, Obama would simply pocket the concession and proceed with his efforts to hobble the prime minister," Rogers and Doran write.

Further, they said, America's traditional Middle Eastern allies distrust his outreach to Iran, and allies in Europe and Asia are concerned about what they consider to be lagging U.S. resolve when it comes to Russia and China, but fear expressing their concerns because of Obama's possible retribution.

"When they see the White House treating Netanyahu to a level of hostility usually reserved for adversaries, their trepidation only increases," Rogers and Doran write.

And when it comes to how Netanyahu's invitation to speak was extended, they said, Congress is a co-equal branch of government that had every right to bring him in.

"Congress has a right, indeed an obligation, to exercise oversight in the realm of foreign policy," they wrote. "It has a duty to keep itself and the people that it serves well-informed about consequential matters — by listening to whomever it pleases."

However, they complain that Obama has worked to keep Congress in the dark about the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, leaving no time to mount a serious opposition if the details of the deal are hidden until after it is signed.

"The time for debate is now, and if Obama will not respect the wishes of a co-equal branch of government, at least Netanyahu will," Rogers and Doran write.

In addition, they said, Netanyahu's speech will be about more than the nuclear deal, as evidence is mounting that Obama considers Iran an attractive partner in efforts to defeat the Islamic State's advances.

Iran is leading Syria and Hezbollah in efforts against rebels threatening to overturn the Assad regime in Syria, they said, and if Iran wins, Israel and Jordan could find that country's troops on their borders.

Netanyahu's opinions on the proposed deal with Iran are not extreme or "exclusively Israeli," Rogers and Doran write, as there are key American observers, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

If Obama goes ahead with the Iran deal "without first subjecting its terms to a rigorous debate in Congress, he will be concluding an agreement that is entirely personal in nature," Rogers and Doran write, and the deal would be contested, making it "unstable, if not dangerous."

Netanyahu's speech on Tuesday will help force debate and examination on the matter, and is "performing a service to us all," Rogers and Doran conclude.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech before Congress is "the act of a true and courageous friend," and Americans and the White House need to hear his words on Iran, former Rep. Mike Rogers and Michael Doran say.
Benjamin Netanyahu, speech, Mike Rogers, Michael Doran
Monday, 02 March 2015 09:21 AM
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