David Frum

02.27.13

How AIPAC is Losing

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images ()

Lee Smith argues that - among other things - the second Obama term is falsifying the fantasy of an all-powerful Israel lobby.

[O]n the most crucial issue facing Israel’s security, AIPAC has lost the policy debate. The winners include those who believe you can’t stop a nation from getting the bomb if it’s determined to do so, those who think the Iranians have a right to nuclear weapons, and those who argue the Iranians can be contained—among them, our new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. …

Some on the winning side argued for engagement. Among these were the stars of the policy pantheon, like former Secretary of State Jim Baker, and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who argued that a combination of incentives and pressures might get the Iranians to the table.

And if Iran didn’t want to negotiate, some claimed that wasn’t such a big deal anyway. As Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has said, it’s no problem containing Iran. ...

If, as Hagel has said, the Jewish lobby truly intimidated “a lot of people up here,” you’d expect to see Washington all humming the same tune on Iran. Instead, it’s the Iranians calling the shots. “You must raise the level of your tolerance,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization recently told the West. “Try to find ways for cooperation with a country that is moving towards technological progress.”

The Iranian negotiating team meeting with its Western counterparts in Kazakhstan this week has earned the right to its smugness. The Iranians are installing equipment that will allow it to accelerate the production of nuclear fuel. And then there was North Korea’s nuclear test two weeks ago. At the very least, it signaled to the Iranians that in the end, despite all of the tough talk coming from the White House, the Americans are not going to stop the Iranians from acquiring the bomb.

Tehran has the upper hand in negotiations because it recognizes that all the White House wants is some sort of deal it can sell as a victory. And the all-powerful pro-Israel lobby has no choice but to swallow it and smile.