As the conflict over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to Congress has grown, one of the arguments being offered in its favor is that Congress “needs” to hear Netanyahu’s views about the nuclear deal shaping up between Iran and the P5+1. This is an odd claim for a few reasons. First, it’s not as if members of Congress don’t hear views very similar to Netanyahu’s all the time from various lobby groups and think tanks. But more to the point, as the head of a modern, technologically advanced state, Netanyahu has multiple ways of making his views heard. He can appear on U.S. television news shows, as he has done many times before, which members of Congress can watch. He can make a speech in Israel, which members of Congress can also watch. He can even just make remarks in one of his regular cabinet meetings, which will then be reported and can be read by members of Congress on the internet via the computers in their offices, or on their smart phones.
All that aside, if it really is that important for Congress to hear from Netanyahu in person, I propose this conflict-ending solution: Invite Netanyahu to testify. I recognize that having foreign heads of state testify before Congress is not something that’s usually done, but having foreign heads of state attack the President of the United States’ foreign policy agenda before Congress isn’t something that’s usually done, either. Not only would this arrangement address concerns that Netanyahu might use his speech to Congress for his own domestic political advantage, it would also give members of Congress the opportunity to ask questions and probe his views more deeply.
Let’s remember that Prime Minister Netanyahu has some experience with this, having testified before Congress in 2002 in support of the invasion of Iraq, where he told the House Government and Reform Oversight Committee, “There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever,” and assured them, “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”