It's embarrassingly clear that the Bush Administration wants desperately to attack Iran. I don't know if they just want to blow past one failed war on the way to the next one, or if they want to keep bitch-slapping brown people in the belief that this is the only way you can "train" them, or if they expect some sweet profits for their corporate partners if they take over the Straits of Hormuz. Whatever the reason, it's an undeniable fact that this feels like 2002
all over again.
How about blaming your opponent for all your troubles, even when you know they're not responsible for all, or even most, of what you're seeing?
How about issuing a license to kill for nationals of your opponent?
How about violating a diplomatic office of your opponent, smashing into the buildings, and taking away officials who were there at the invitation of the local government?
How about bringing in more troops on your opponent's doorstep, more ships into neighboring waters, and ratcheting up the rhetoric?
Think that'll do it?
There's more to it than that. The US tried to blame Iran for the attack on Karbala because it was "too sophisticated" for the insurgents to pull it off. Except they did
, with help from inside the Iraqi government. FOX is reporting this.
Citing Pentagon officials, Fox News Channel is reporting that two Iraqi generals are suspected of complicity in a Jan. 20 attack in Karbala, Iraq that killed five US troops.
"There are 2 senior Iraq generals that US officials say are now suspect of involvement in an attack against American forces in Karbala on Jan. 20th," a Fox News host reported on air. "A number of people were killed. These gunmen apparently stormed an Iraqi security dressed like American soldiers and driving SUVs. So again, US officials are saying that 2 senior are suspected of taking part in an insurgent attack that killed 5 American soldiers."
So we have every little problem in Iraq being attributed to Iran, without any evidence. In fact, just today the US delayed a written report
set to detail Iranian meddling in Iraq. I guess they didn't have enough time to bury the smoking gun.
Let's be very clear with what's going on here. Actually Craig Unger
goes through this point by point in his latest article for Vanity Fair. The ideologues in the US government, the neocons, who have damaged this country with their fantastical thinking already beyond reason, are hyping reports about WMD, using unreliable sources within Iran (think Chalabi redux
) to prove the points they want to make, and justifying it by claiming the failure in Iraq was not a consequence of thinking too big, but thinking too SMALL. This all happened leading up to Iraq, and when Grover Norquist is making sense, we've smashed the looking glass and threw it out the window.
"Everything the advocates of war said would happen hasn't happened," says the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, an influential conservative who backed the Iraq invasion. "And all the things the critics said would happen have happened. [The president's neoconservative advisers] are effectively saying, 'Invade Iran. Then everyone will see how smart we are.' But after you've lost x number of times at the roulette wheel, do you double-down?"
So these directives to kill Iranians and additional ships in the region and saber-rattling talk is designed to provoke a response, a Rosetta stone that would spark a wider war. The sycophants in the media agitating for this, people like Michael Ledeen, are ready to pounce
. It really does appear to be happening all over again, with the media falling for the same stories, with the same propaganda tools put to use. The reality is, as Anthony Shadid deconstructs brilliantly
, that we created this so-called monster in Iran, and if I didn't know any better I'd say we did it on purpose.
"The United States is the first to be blamed for the rise of Iranian influence in the Middle East," said Khaled al-Dakhil, a Saudi writer and academic. "There is one thing important about the ascendance of Iran here. It does not reflect a real change in Iranian capabilities, economic or political. It's more a reflection of the failures on the part of the U.S. and its Arab allies in the region."
Iran has found itself strengthened almost by default, first with the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to Iran's east, which ousted the Taliban rulers against whom it almost went to war in the 1990s, and then to its west, with the American ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, against whom it fought an eight-year war in the 1980s.
Arab rulers allied with the United States issued stark warnings. Jordan's King Abdullah in 2005 spoke darkly of a Shiite crescent that would stretch from Iran, through Iraq's Shiite Arab majority, to Lebanon, where Shiites make up the largest single community. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt suggested last year that Shiites in the Arab world were more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. And in a rare interview, published Saturday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia suggested that Iran, although he did not name the country, was trying to convert Sunni Arabs to Shiism. "The majority of Sunni Muslims will never change their faith," he told al-Siyassah, a Kuwaiti newspaper.
Across the region, Iran has begun to exert influence on fronts as diverse as its allies: the formerly exiled Shiite parties in Iraq and their militias; Hezbollah, a Lebanese group formed with Iranian patronage after Israel's 1982 invasion; and the cash-strapped Sunni Muslim movement of Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
"I disagree with Iranian policy, but you have to give the Iranians credit," said Abdullah al-Shayji, a political science professor and head of Kuwait University's American Studies Unit. "You have to appreciate that they have an agenda, they're planning for it, they seize the opportunity, they see an American weakness and they are capitalizing on it."
We paid no attention to anyone and bulldozed through all of Iran's enemies, and installed a pro-Iranian government on its doorstep in Iraq. We bluster about Iranian elements in Iraq when the Saudis and Jordanians are there too, by their own public admission. Democrats are wasting their time in the Senate on meaningless denunciations, and in fact dangerous quasi-authorizations
of the current Iraq policy, when Iran is a ready to rev up at any moment.
The sick thing is that, if it weren't for Dick Cheney and these insane theorists, Iran wouldn't be an issue today
The honeymoon is over. Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has finally come unstuck. His popularity with the Iranian electorate - the subject of much incredulous analysis in 2005 - seems to be falling back at last, and the country's latest exercise in populism seems to be reaping the rewards of unfulfilled promises bestowed with little attention to economic realities [...]
None of this might matter so much, if the president had based his rhetorical flourishes on solid policies. But much to everyone's surprise nothing dramatic materialised. Ahmadinejad appeared to follow the dictum of his mentor, Ayatollah Khomeini - "Economics is for donkeys". Indeed, his policies could be defined as "anything but Khatami" (his predecessor). So the oil reserve fund was spent on cash handouts to the grateful poor, and the central bank, normally a bastion of prudence, was instructed to cut interest rates for small businesses.
These had the effect, as Ahmadinejad was warned, of pushing up inflation. The rationale for high interest rates was to encourage the middle classes to keep their money in Iran. Now they decided to spend it. Richer Iranians, worried about rising international tension, decided it would be prudent to ship their money abroad. This further weakened the rial, and added to inflationary pressure. In the past few months the prices of most basic goods have risen, hurting the poor he was elected to help. Moreover, far from investing Iran's oil wealth in infrastructure to create jobs, he announced recently that Iran's economy could support a substantially larger population, as if current unemployment was not a big enough problem [...]
Ironically, it is this very international crisis that may serve to save Ahmadinejad's presidency, a reality that the president undoubtedly understood all too well. As domestic difficulties mount, the emerging international crisis could at best serve as a rallying point, or at worst persuade Iran's elite that a change of guard would convey weakness to the outside world.
There can be little doubt that US hawks will interpret recent events as proof that pressure works, and that any more pressure will encourage the hawks further. Yet the reality is that while Ahmadinejad has been his own worst enemy, the US hawks are his best friends. Ahmadinejad's demise, if it comes, will have less to do with the international environment and more with his own political incompetence. There is little doubt that it will take more than a cosmetic change to get Washington to listen to Iran. But the real question mark, as the Baker-Hamilton commission found to its cost, is whether Washington is inclined to listen at all.
The American people are decent and just. They understand the importance of global leadership, and will not retreat into isolationism. Even now, after the horrors of Iraq, a majority want to boldly stop the genocide in Darfur
by whatever means necessary. But the American people need good information and a way to understand this manufactured crisis. They can then empower their leaders, particularly the Democrats in the House and
Senate, to take action right now
to stop this imminent war with Iran, which will not only bring mass suffering to another nation, but which I fear will permanently bring about the end of the superpower status of this country. Scott Ritter has outlined the precise steps needed to be taken today.
I would strongly urge Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to hold real hearings on Iran. Not the mealy-mouthed Joe Biden-led hearings we witnessed on Iraq in July-August 2002, where he and his colleagues rubber-stamped the President's case for war, but genuine hearings that draw on all the lessons of Congressional failures when it came to Iraq. Summon all the President's men (and women), and grill them on every phrase and word uttered about the Iranian "threat," especially as it has been linked to nuclear weapons. Demand facts to back up the rhetoric [...]
If hearings show no case for war with Iran, then Congress must act to insure that the United States cannot move toward conflict with that nation on the strength of executive dictate alone. As things currently stand, the Bush Administration, emboldened with a vision of the unitary executive unprecedented in our nation's history, believes it has all of the legal authority it requires when it comes to engaging Iran militarily. The silence of Congress following the President's decision to dispatch a second carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf has been deafening. The fact that a third carrier battle group (the USS Ronald Reagan) will probably join these two in the near future has also gone unnoticed by most, if not all, in Congress.
The President and his advisers believe that they are acting in accordance with the authorities given to the executive by the US Constitution, and by legislative authority as well, as provided for in both the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution of September 14, 2001 (after the attacks of September 11, where Congress not only authorized the President to use military force against the perpetrators of the terror attacks but also against those nations deemed to be harboring people or organizations involved in the attacks), and the Authorization of Military Force Against Iraq resolution of October 2002 (where Congress concurred that any presidential action would be "consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001") [...]
Democrats should seek immediate legislative injunctions to nullify the War Powers' authority granted to the President in September 2001 and October 2002 when it comes to Iran. Congress should pass a joint resolution requiring the President to fully consult with Congress about any national security threat that may be posed to the United States from Iran and demand that no military action be initiated by the United States against Iran without a full, constitutionally mandated declaration of war [...]
Congress can, if it wants to, put specific restrictions on the President's ability to use the people's money. A recent example occurred in 1982, when Congress passed the Boland Amendment to restrict funding for executive-sponsored actions, covert and overt, in Nicaragua. While it is in the process of getting a handle on America's policy vis-à-vis Iran, Congress would do well to pass a resolution that serves as a new Boland Amendment for Iran. Such an amendment could read like this:
An amendment to prohibit offensive military operations, covert or overt, being commenced by the United States of America against the Islamic Republic of Iran, without the expressed consent of the Congress of the United States. This amendment reserves the right of the President, commensurate with the War Powers Act, to carry out actions appropriate for the defense of the United States if attacked by Iran. However, any funds currently appropriated by Congress for use in support of ongoing operations by the United States Armed Forces are hereby prohibited from being allocated for any pre-emptive military action, whether overt or covert in nature, without the expressed prior consent by the Congress of the United States of America.
This is not something that can wait. We're going to war again with another Islamic country if nothing is done immediately. Today I participated in calling Senators about stopping the escalation of Iraq. I would submit that tomorrow we need to make calls to stop the war with Iran.
Labels: Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, neocons