History suggests Netanyahu’s dramatic drone wreckage prop won’t help his cause

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu punctuated a speech at an international security conference on Feb. 18 by brandishing what he claimed was a piece of an Iranian drone that had been shot down inside his country’s borders.

Netanyahu’s dramatic gesture was designed to call attention to Iran’s participation in various proxy wars across the Middle East, while also warning that Israel would not allow a permanent Iranian presence in Syria. An Israeli F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft defenses after attacking a facility housing the drone’s pilot.

But theatrics like these—which may also be designed to distract from charges of corruption against Netanyahu—have not boasted happy results in the past.

Petro Poroshenko at Davos

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a fragment of a bus body which he says shows a Russian missile attack on a civilian bus as he addresses The Future of Ukraine event in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 21, 2015. More than 1,500 business leaders and 40 heads of state or government will attend the Jan. 21-24 meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to network and discuss big themes, from the price of oil to the future of the Internet. This year they are meeting in the midst of upheaval, with security forces on heightened alert after attacks in Paris, the European Central Bank considering a radical government bond-buying programme and the safe-haven Swiss franc rocketing.
Swiss cheese. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

In 2015, the Ukrainian Prime Minister/”Chocolate Kingshowed off a piece of a bus that he said had been fired upon by Russian forces inside his country. “If this is not aggression, what is?” he asked of the attack, which killed twelve people. But he failed to swing the global elite into action, and three years later, Russian-backed separatists still control the eastern provinces of his country.

Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points to a red line he has drawn on the graphic of a bomb as he addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.
He bombed. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Bibi again! In 2012, Netanyahu attracted attention (and mockery) during a United Nations speech with a prop intended to demonstrate Israel’s resolve to strike Iran if it proceeded to develop nuclear weapons. In the years ahead, the international community would ignore the Israeli leader and strike an agreement with Tehran designed to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite skepticism of the deal within the Trump administration, the anti-proliferation agreement remains in force.

Muammar Gaddafi at the UN

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi addresses the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009.
Open your Charters to chapter two. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

In 2009, the Libyan strongman made his first speech to the United Nations. Intended as brief welcome remarks, it became a ninety minute diatribe criticizing the institution. Gaddafi read from, waved, and ultimately hurled a copy of the UN Charter at the officials on the dais above him. Two years later, he would be murdered after an international coalition led by the United Kingdom, France and the US unseated him from power.

Colin Powell at the UN

Colin Powell UN speech prop
Here’s the anthrax. (AP Photo)

In 2003, the US Secretary of State delivered a speech making the case for war against Iraq, at one point showing off a vial that could contain enough anthrax to kill several people to underscore the disproportionate threat of biological weapons. But the speech, which Powell remembers as a “blot” on his record, is recalled for misleading intelligence about an Iraqi nuclear program that was never discovered after the invasion, which killed tens of thousands and mired the US in an ongoing Middle Eastern conflict.

Nikita Khrushchev at the UN

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 1960 file photo, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounds his desk at the United Nations with his fist during a General Assembly debate on colonialism at the UN. His wrist watch, on the desk in front of him, came off during his angry response, before he began using a shoe to pound the desk. As the meeting place for all the world’s nations and their leaders celebrates its 70th anniversary, that address is one many memorable moments in the history of the General Assembly.
Knock, knock. (AP Photo)

It turns out that the former Soviet leader probably didn’t hit his lectern with a shoe during a speech. The photo you’ve probably seen is a fake. He did, however, join his delegation in banging their fists on their desk as an act of disruptive protest in 1960. Khrushchev was ousted and forced into retirement in 1964.

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