Last week our senior senator made history. He became the first one-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in living memory to undercut a president of his own party at a time when U.S. forces are involved in warfare.
That occurred after the president’s State of the Union speech, when Barack Obama called on Congress to butt out while he engages in negotiations with Iran over a number of key issues central to sorting out the current mess in the Mideast.
That mess stems from the actions endorsed by Menendez and several other senators whom I hereby dub “The Axis of Lunacy.” The axis is bipartisan, including Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona.
All three spent the past few years pushing for the U.S. to take an active role in supporting the rebels fighting to oust Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The theory was that once Assad was deposed the grateful people of Syria would set up a nice, neat little democracy.
That never works. As has happened in other countries, Islamic fundamentalists took advantage of the power vacuum. The Sunni army called ISIS promptly created an Islamic State in Syria that soon spread into Iraq.
That put the president in a tough position. If he wants to beat back the Sunni forces who’ve taken over much of Iraq, he needs the help of the Shias who run Iran. But at the same time he also has to negotiate with the Iranians over their nuclear program.
The president could sure use some sympathy from the senator who helped him get into this mess, but instead he got this from Menendez in response to his speech:
"I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran."
It wasn’t the talking points that are coming out of Tehran. It’s the Iranian ground troops that are entering Iraq to fight alongside their fellow Shia against the Sunni extremists.
Then there are those Iranian fighter jets that are supporting Iraqi forces in the fight. They’re U.S.-made Phantoms, by the way. We provided them to Iran back in the 1970s when the Shah was still in power. First they were used for us, then against us and now for us again.
When you examine the history of our involvement in the region, the only possible conclusion is that our government is completely, totally and utterly incompetent when it comes to micromanaging the Mideast.
That includes all three members of the axis. Typical was this statement Menendez put out less than two years ago when he was calling for Obama to set up a no-fly zone to help the rebels oust Assad:
"It is clear that we must act to assure the fall of Assad, the defeat of extremist groups and the rise of democracy," the senator said in April of 2013.