The fact that Democrats have eagerly participated in Bush and the neocons’ campaign to demonize Iran shows that they have learned nothing from Iraq. The Democrats know that Bush lives in his own world outside the “reality-based community,” one in which rational behavior is not a given. They know that the neocon nut jobs in Dick Cheney’s circle want another war. They know that Bush is engaging in exactly the same kind of propaganda campaign against Iran that he did against Iraq, with “explosively shaped charges” replacing the “mushroom clouds” that Saddam Hussein was going to release from a secret chain of demonic falafel stands located in the “east, west, north and south” of the country. And they know that war with Iran would be a disaster. That’s why last March the Democratic leadership proposed a resolution that would prevent Bush from attacking Iran without congressional authorization. But when what the neoconservative New York Sun called “a group of conservative and pro-Israel Democrats” objected, the Democrats caved — in effect, putting the decision on whether to launch a third Mideast war in Bush’s capable hands.
While they abet Bush’s Iran madness, the Democrats treat the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which is by far the greatest cause of anti-American sentiment in the Arab-Muslim world, as if it were a municipal garbage-jurisdiction dispute in Peoria. The Bush administration is doing almost nothing to prepare the ground for the November peace summit, a window-dressing exercise destined to go nowhere. But none of the major Democratic candidates seem to care. None have insisted that Washington and Tel Aviv must put final-status issues on the table, even though without that stipulation the talks are doomed to fail, with potentially grave consequences for Israel, the Palestinians, the region and U.S. interests. Certainly none have dared join that raving radical, Colin Powell, in suggesting that Hamas must be a part of the negotiations. No one endorses Hamas’ use of terrorism — but just as after 9/11, the fetishization of terrorism as pure evil is preventing America from acting in its own interests. From the ANC’s guerrilla struggle with South Africa to the IRA’s urban war against the British in Northern Ireland, the lesson of history is that peace can only be attained by talking to the men with the guns.
Ironically, reality has forced the Bush administration to accept this moral relativism in Iraq. We are in a looking-glass world, where Bush befriends Sunni Baathists in Iraq who yesterday were blowing up American troops, but the Democrats, who are supposedly less prone to moralistic myopia than Bush, rule out talking to Hamas, which took office in elections the U.S. insisted on, and sing from Bush’s far-right song sheet on Iran. Indeed, the only issue on which congressional Democrats are routinely more conservative than Bush is the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. In 2006, the House overwhelmingly approved a sanctions bill against the Palestinians that was opposed by the White House. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — As Taylor Marsh recently noted, “There’s only one thing Clinton and others who voted in favor of Lieberman’s Iran amendment fear more than Iran’s possible involvement in Iraq, or them going nuclear, and that’s standing up to the Israel lobby at large. It’s not going to happen.”
Even so, now that Clinton has made a course correction and announced the she will co-sponsor the Webb legislation prohibiting the use of funds for military operations in Iran, Taylor describes this as a “critically important and a progressive move.” It is no such thing.
Why? Because it is increasingly clear that action against Iran will not start with a fanfare. All the administration needs is a pretext for opening fire and in its original form, the Webb legislation provides Bush with all the room for maneuver he needs:
Specifically, the amendment requires that the President seek congressional authorization prior to commencing any broad military action in Iran and it allows the following exceptions: First, military operations or activities that would directly repel an attack launched from within the territory of Iran. Second, those activities that would directly thwart an imminent attack that would be launched from Iran. Third, military operations or activities that would be in hot pursuit of forces engaged outside the territory of Iran who thereafter would enter Iran. And finally, those intelligence collection activities that have been properly noticed to the appropriate committees of Congress.
I can already hear the presidential address:
In the early hours of this morning, I was informed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, that our intelligence services had discovered that Quds forces in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, operating close to the Iraqi border, were at the advanced stage of launching a stealth attack on a United States military base in Iraq. I therefore ordered U.S. naval and air forces to take all necessary measures to thwart this imminent attack and we have informed the Iranian government that we will not hesitate to take any further necessary action to defend American soldiers who are currently serving their country in Iraq.
Would we get to see the intelligence? Almost certainly not. Would Congress be shouting out in protest? Fat chance! Because if this was to happen, the president would of course be acting in strict compliance with the Webb legislation — in the extremely unlikely event that he had actually signed it into law.
The war against Iran won’t start with shock and awe; it will start with an incident. And while the commentariat is still arguing over who started it, one incident will have led to another and in the unfolding escalation the MSM will be wringing their hands as they earnestly ask: is this war?
But for now, don’t expect the Democrats to take any meaningful action that might help avert this war — they’ll be too busy playing strong and cautious, fishing for the antiwar vote without antagonizing the Israel lobby.