Monday, February 05, 2007

You lost all your M.E. privileges. Deal?

Congress may have to vote to stop GWB from treating U.S. to a best two out of three war in Iran (and he hasn't won one yet). They're running the same play over again. The rhetoric is scarily familiar and it looks like America's having one of those dreams where you need to run from danger but can't seem to move.

Scott Ritter is suggesting a new Boland amendment (I remember the last one didn't work too well) and a revocation of AUMF. Even if it the White House tries to blow it off, it might give them enough pause to forestall any immediate action: time not being in the administration's favor.

In Atlantic, James Fallows urges Congress to speak immediately and say, "[War] with Iran is anathema to the interests of the United States and contrary to the will of its elected representatives." He explains:
If we could trust the Administration’s ability to judge America’s rational self-interest, there would be no need to constrain its threatening gestures toward Iran. Everyone would understand that this was part of the negotiation process; no one would worry that the Administration would finally take a step as self-destructive as beginning or inviting a war.
But no one can any longer trust the Administration to recognize and defend America’s rational self-interest — not when the President says he will carry out a policy even if opposed by everyone except his wife and dog, not when the Vice President refuses to concede any mistake or misjudgment in the handling of Iraq.
Defense analyst Thomas P.M. Barnett admits threats can have some utility, but:
The downside?

If it doesn't make sense to sit down with the Iranians to talk about Iraq because they sense our vulnerability there, then why should threats work?
As for an actual attack, Barnett too questions Bush's judgment:
... nothing would reawaken [Ahmadinejad's] dream to reignite revolutionary fervor among the masses better than a nasty air strike from the Great Satan. I can just see Al-Jazeera's video.


Sure, we could set the program back some time, but we'd never be quite sure exactly what our bombing accomplished.

That's the rub for Bush and every president who follows: Iran's far enough along in its well-bunkered nuclear program that the only way America can confidently take it out - absent the all-out invasion - is to employ nuclear weapons.


If Bush decides to bomb Iran conventionally, all we end up accomplishing is to: (1) strengthen the regime domestically; (2) encourage the mullahs to ramp up their proxies' violence in Iraq and elsewhere; and (3) confirm the worldview that having nukes is crucial to scaring off America's military interventions.

Too risky? Depends on how much you trust Bush's judgment now.
Writing in today's L.A. Times, Leonard Weiss, senior science fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and Larry Diamond, senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution write:
What to do? Congress should not wait. It should hold hearings on Iran before the president orders a bombing attack on its nuclear facilities, or orders or supports a provocative act by the U.S. or an ally designed to get Iran to retaliate, and thus further raise war fever.


Those hearings should aim toward passage of a law preventing the expenditure of any funds for a military attack on Iran unless Congress has either declared war with that country or has otherwise authorized military action under the War Powers Act.

The law should be attached to an appropriations bill, making it difficult for the president to veto. If he simply claims that he is not bound by the restriction even if he signs it into law, and then orders an attack on Iran without congressional authorization for it, Congress should file a lawsuit and begin impeachment proceedings.

It is, of course, possible that the president's truculent language and actions toward Iran are a bluff, an attempt to rein in its irresponsible behavior.

But the administration's mendacious and incompetent course of action in taking the nation to war with Iraq gives us no reason to provide the president with the benefit of any doubt. And stiffening economic sanctions — at a time when Iran's economy is ailing and the regime is losing popular support — offers a better and safer prospect of exerting leverage.
From the Jerusalem Post (sorry, the Sunday Times is having Internet issues):
Retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar and retired Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan said an attack "would have disastrous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions."
Not that is any concern of the Unitary Executive. Back in January, Tony Snow asserted that the president considers all his options open:
"The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way." --- Tony Snow, 01-08-7
I think by now George has lost all his M.E. privileges. Deal?

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