Israel Is Not at the Water's Edge; It Is Inside the U.S.

The spectacle of a foreign head of government being invited to speak before the U.S. Congress in early March without the American president being first officially notified leaves, or should leave, the American and Israeli publics in a state of stupefaction.

It is not that a foreign head of state has not addressed a joint session of Congress. Then-President Nicolas Sarkozy of France spoke there on November 7, 2007 and turned around French-American relations in a single phrase: "I want to be your friend."

The question arises subliminally as to whether Israel is really a full-fledged foreign state. An Israeli head of government can slip into the U.S. and address Congress on Iran without reference to the person in charge of U.S. foreign policy? One can only conclude from this paradox that both John Boehner, a Congressman from Ohio who is also Speaker of the House, and along with him Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were acting in no small part by gamesmanship... unless we want to permit multiple congressmen and multiple senators to take on the role of Secretary of State.

Heretofore it has been an axiom of U.S. public life, as enunciated by Senator Arthur Vandenberg at the time of the debate on the Atlantic Alliance, that "politics stops at the water's edge." True, it has not always been the case in the past, but it endures as a principle.

If, with help from Netanyahu and some right-wingers on Capitol Hill, a possible nuclear agreement with Iran is put in danger, the negotiating atmosphere is poisoned, new sanctions are imposed and with them, there is even a possible override of a presidential veto, this could lead to a new, and wider, war in the Middle East.