Secretary of State John Kerry testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, and going into the hearing, it was widely expected that he'd tout the importance of international nuclear talks with Iran. He did exactly that, though he also went a little further in challenging a critic of those talks.
Secretary of State John Kerry reminded Americans on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who is expected to denounce a potential nuclear deal with Iran during an address to Congress next week, also visited Washington in late 2002 to lobby for the invasion of Iraq.
Apparently referring to testimony on the Middle East that Mr. Netanyahu delivered to Congress on Sept. 12, 2002, when he was a private citizen, Mr. Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "The prime minister, as you will recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision."
In 2002, Netanyahu assured lawmakers that invading Iraq was a great idea. "If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region," he said at the time.
We now know, of course, that Netanyahu's guarantee was spectacularly wrong, which matters insofar as credibility still counts -- the same Israeli leader is now telling lawmakers an international agreement with Iran would be a disaster for the United States and its allies. Kerry's point wasn't subtle: those who were this wrong before probably shouldn't be trusted to be right now.
There's something almost refreshing about this. Note, there's nothing personal or even electoral about the administration's message -- Kerry didn't offer some prolonged complaint about Netanyahu and the Israeli elections, or the unprecedented nature of the prime minister's partnership with congressional Republicans.
It's far more straightforward. Netanyahu has positioned himself as a participant in a policy debate and, at the same time, he's claiming great credibility on the subject matter. The White House is responding in kind, treating Netanyahu as a policy rival.
What's wrong with this? Actually, nothing.