LAURA KNIGHT-JADCZYK AND JOE QUINN
Since the 9/11 attacks, no book has provided a satisfactory answer as to WHY the attacks occurred and who was ultimately responsible for carrying them out - until now.
I want to say the following: Today began an offensive on Mariupol [the crowd cheers], God willing in a couple of days Debaltsevo cauldron will be closed. And it will be the best answer to honor the memory of the dead. Because we will pay back everyone, we will pay those who pulled the trigger or pushed the button which launched the missiles that killed our countrymen here. Those who shot people in Gorlovka, Makeevka, Yenakievo, Shakhtersk, Zhdanovka, Kirovka. Will pay back for each of our murdered child, and each old man innocently killed here.Now, the DPR and LPR armies have joined up and successfully encircled Ukrainian troops in Debaltsevo: that's 7,500 Ukrainians troops trapped.
In public, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest politely describes this as a "departure" from protocol. He also says the president will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits in early March, but has attributed that decision only to a desire not to influence Israel's upcoming elections.This time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have gone too far.
But in private, Obama's team is livid with the Israeli leader, according to Haaretz.
"We thought we've seen everything," a source identified as a senior American official was quoted as saying. "But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don't do.
"He spat in our face publicly and that's no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price."
It's bad enough that John Boehner invited him to address a joint session of Congress and lobby for more sanctions on Iran - and directly seek to undercut the president's top diplomatic initiative. Far worse is that Netanyahu accepted the invitation; it was a demonstration of ingratitude and hubris rarely seen before in the annals of the US-Israel bilateral relationship.It's politics as usual.
Bibi, Boehner Team Up Against ObamaThis attitude towards other independent nations is not new to Israeli politicians or celebrities. The world's 'mightiest' and 'wealthiest' nation is no exception. See:
But it is fair to say that, these days, there is a particularly close connection between the Republicans and the Likud. After all, Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson is one of Netanyahu's most avid supporters. And if the ties weren't obvious already, House Speaker John Boehner's announcement Tuesday that he's invited Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on February 11 makes the link perfectly clear (PDF). He's giving Netanyahu the chance to bask in the full glow of the Washington spotlight just weeks before the Israeli elections on March 17.
There are three takeaways from this ploy that are almost as stunning as they are obvious:
First, Boehner's invitation is motivated as much by hostility to Obama and to his Iran policy as by a desire to reelect Netanyahu as prime minister.
That takes us to the second point: Boehner is using Netanyahu as much as Netanyahu is using the invitation. It's not at all clear, of course, where the idea of the invite originated. It doesn't strain the bounds of credulity to imagine it arose from a quiet suggestion by Israel or its prominent supporters here at home. But, in any case, Netanyahu can rally support for the Republican mantra that Iran is the region's dangerous bad boy, and he's virtually guaranteed a rousing reception among both parties.
Third, it will help Netanyahu in the March elections. But how much? As my grandmother used to say about her chicken soup, "It probably couldn't hurt." The Israeli pundits hammered Netanyahu's visit to France in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre for what they believed to be a political exploitation of the Paris terrorist attacks. But that visit wasn't well orchestrated. This one will be very carefully stage managed, complete with media interviews.
The Washington excursion is just an extra flourish. Any time an incumbent has an opportunity to use the powers and prestige of office to burnish his prime ministerial image, particularly that close to an election, so much the better. It won't be determinative. Israelis didn't ride in on a bale of hay yesterday; they're all too familiar with their politicians' politicking. But in a close election, being feted and supported by your country's key ally with a focus on critical security issues in an age of jihadi terror, well.....that's not a bad photo op.
And if Bibi wins? We probably can expect to see more of him as both Democratic and Republican candidates for president of the United States fight for the title of Israel's best friend.