OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Prevent a future war with Iran

Iraq will have to wait

The highest priority for the antiwar movement in America today must be the prevention of a war with Iran. The strategic objectives should include getting Congress to repeal the war-powers authorities currently on the books, thereby forcing the president to seek new congressional approval for any new war. Likewise, a concerted effort must be undertaken to counter the disinformation being spread by the Bush administration and others about the nature of the Iranian threat. Every action undertaken by the antiwar movement must be connected to one or both of these strategic objectives. This is not the time for one-off sophomoric newspaper advertisements, but rather for sustained action focused on generating congressional hearings and public debate across the entire spectrum of American society. From the colleges and universities to the churches and on to the public square of small-town America, public information talks, presentations and panels must be held. Communities should flood local media outlets with requests for coverage and appeal to regional media to run stories. Mainstream media will follow. Demonstrations, if useful at all, must be focused events linked to an overall campaign designed to facilitate a strategic objective.

We all should remember the fall of 2002. Many felt that there was no chance for a war with Iraq, especially once U.N. inspectors made their return. In March 2003, everyone who thought so was proved wrong. The fall of 2007 is no different. There is a sense of complacency when one speaks of the potential for a war with Iran. But time is not on the side of those who oppose conflict. If nothing is done to change the political situation inside America regarding Iran, there is an all too real possibility for a war to break out in the spring of 2008.

Sadly, there really is no alternative for the antiwar movement: Put opposition to the war in Iraq on the back burner and make preventing a war with Iran the No. 1 priority, at least until the national election cycle kicks in during the summer of 2008. If a war with Iran hasn’t happened by then, it probably won’t. And the national debate on Iraq won’t be engaged until that time, anyway. A war with Iran would make the current conflict in Iraq pale by comparison, and would detrimentally impact the whole of America, not just certain demographics. As such, it is critical that we all put aside our ideological and political differences and focus on the one issue which, if left unheeded, will have devastating consequences for the immediate future of us all: Prevent a future war with Iran. [complete article]

See also, Richardson says war with Iran is unwise (AP).

Editor’s Comment — A Democratic-led Congress has already demonstrated how ineffectual it is when it comes to challenging this administration on its Iraq policy. There seems even less reason to imagine that Congress will prevent military action against Iran. To do that, Congress would have to defy the Israel lobby — that simply won’t happen. Just look at how obediently 76 senators clicked their heals as they passed the Kyle-Lieberman amendment just a week ago.

Above all, this is an administration that has persistently shown how little interest it has in the views of its critics. The president and vice-president are apparently not even concerned how much damage they will do to the GOP. As Seymour Hersh quotes a former senior intelligence official saying, “Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.” Nevertheless, none of this makes war inevitable.

Three men (and maybe others) can pull the plug on this operation: Defense Secretary Gates, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, and Centcom commander, Admiral William Fallon. The fact that two naval commanders now hold pivotal positions in the Pentagon has been interpreted by some as an indication that preparations are already underway for a naval-led attack on Iran. But these were Gates’ choices — not Bush and Cheney’s — and I seriously doubt that any of them accepted their positions in order to help rescue the president or vice-president.

It is worth recalling an exchange from Secretary Gates’ confirmation hearings when he was being questioned by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham:

GRAHAM: Do you believe the Iranians would consider using that nuclear weapons capability against the nation of Israel?

GATES: I don’t know that they would do that, Senator. I think that the risks for them, obviously, are enormously high. I think that they see value.

GRAHAM: If I may?

GATES: Yes, sir.

GRAHAM: The president of Iran has publicly disavowed the existence of the Holocaust, has publicly stated that he would like to wipe Israel off the map. Do you think he’s kidding?

GATES: No, I don’t think he’s kidding, but I think there are, in fact, higher powers in Iran than he, than the president. And I think that, while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent.

They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf.

Clearly, Gates had no interest in pandering to a Congressional panel who themselves wanted to please their donors by regurgitating bilge meant to imply that Iran is a suicidal and genocidal nation.

As for the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, this is how he was recently described:

Mullen, a tough-minded and hard-nosed conservative, is known for his scoffing (if private) dismissal of Washington’s neo-conservatives, though sometimes he can barely keep it under wraps. During a recent Washington reception, he was asked by a reporter whether he would oppose an attack on Iran: “It’s your job to convince the politicians just how stupid that would be,” he said, “not mine.”

Gates, Mullen, and Fallon, may all serve at the pleasure of the president, but if they witness that the press is failing to convince the administration how stupid a war with Iran would be, they must then consider exercising their own veto power: they should be willing to resign.

If preventing a war with Iran depends on the education of America, the resuscitation of the Fourth Estate, and courageous action from Congress, I’m less than optimistic about the outcome. But if it simply depends on the willingness of three men to act in accordance with their conscience and do what they believe is right for their country, then maybe there’s a chance that after the unmitigated folly of a war in Iraq, America will not soon stumble into a much larger disaster.

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