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Iran in the cross hairs.

Just because a certain action is irrational, illegal, unjustified, and potentially catastrophic does not mean that the Bush Administration won t engage in it. No, those aren't showstoppers for Bush and Cheney. If anything, they are perverse incentives.

So it seems with the buildup to a bombing raid on Iran.

Bush and Cheney have been slowly getting everything in place.

The aircraft carriers are there.

The charade at the United Nations is well under way.

And the propaganda wheel is spinning. But this time, fewer people are being taken in. The mainstream media, for one, is at least marginally more skeptical than it was during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Which isn't saying much, since many members of the elite media were accomplices to that crime.

Some Democrats--though notably not the leading Presidential candidates--are not buying what Bush is selling. Representatives John Murtha and Pete DeFazio, along with Senator Jim Webb, have led the Democratic effort to require Bush to come to Congress first for authorization of military action against Iran (unless there is some Iranian provocation, which Bush is fully capable of ginning up). Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has also rebuked the Administration for its war plans against Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice isn't even sure that Bush is required to go to Congress before bombing Tehran. When Webb asked her on January 11, "Is it the position of this Administration that it possesses the authority to take unilateral action against Iran, in the absence of a direct threat, without Congressional approval?" she said she'd have to get back to him on that. Pressed by other Senators at the same hearing, she averred that the President had broad authority as commander in chief.

Hagel would have none of it, and he recognized a historical parallel when Bush said he would pursue Iranians who were helping Iraqi insurgents. "Some of us remember 1970, Madame Secretary. And that was Cambodia. And when our government lied to the American people and said we didn't cross the border going into Cambodia. In fact, we did .... When you set in motion the kind of policy that the President is talking about here, it's very, very dangerous."

Much to their discredit, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards have not shown any reluctance about going after Iran.

"No option can be taken off the table," Clinton said on February 1 to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). "U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons."

When Obama talked to AIPAC on March 2, he said virtually the same thing, and called for tougher sanctions on Iran. "It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons."

Edwards was even worse, warning at a conference in Israel earlier this year that the Iraq War may have made "the American people reticent about toward going for Iran. But I think the American people are smart if they are told the truth, and if they trust their President. So Americans can be educated to come along with what needs to be done with Iran."

Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are doing Bush and Cheney's work for them. If and when Bush decides to bomb Iran, he may cite their own words so as to cover himself with the patina of bipartisanship.

Oddly, the military is to the left of the Democratic frontrunners. "Some of America's most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran," reported the London Times, in a story that was confirmed by CNN.

Nevertheless, "the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran," according to Seymour Hersh in the March 5 issue of The New Yorker. "A special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours."

Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, has studied U.S. military policy for three decades now. He's convinced Bush will bomb Iran.

"Sometime this spring or summer, barring an unexpected turnaround by Tehran, President Bush is likely to go on national television and announce that he has ordered American ships and aircraft to strike at military targets inside Iran," Klare wrote in February. Klare noted several recurring rationales that Bush has been uttering this year, including Iran's alleged assistance to Iraqi militias, its support for other radical Shiite groups, and its nuclear weapons program, though U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran is about eight years away from acquiring a single nuke. Klare also cited Bush's comment at his February 14 news conference that "we have no desire to harm the Iranian people." That's how Bush habitually clears his throat before bombing.

At the same press conference, Bush let on that he almost feels obliged to start a war with Iran. "It's an important issue whether or not Iran ends up with nuclear weapons," he said. "It's one of these issues that people are going to look back and say, you know, how come they couldn't see the impending danger? What happened to them?"

Bush doesn't believe his successors will have the cojones to stop Iran, so he wants to do it himself. Unhampered by any sense of duty to the Constitution or to international law, and clouded by visions of his own machismo, Bush may proceed to give the order.

We may soon find out what is left of our democracy when it comes to waging war. Can a detached and deluded President and a diabolical Vice President launch a country into war by fiat? Or will Congress, or will members of the armed forces, or will the people be able to register sufficient opposition to stop the insanity?

That is the question that confronts the American people today.

As to Congress, given the pathetic performance of the Democrats in failing to cut off the purse strings for Bush's war in Iraq, it's highly unlikely that they will rise to the occasion of preempting Bush's war on Iran. Even at this late date, most of them are still running scared of their own shadows--and the next attack ad. Bush may not even return to Congress for its blessing, and if he does, the craven legislators might just give it to him.

Nor, if the order comes down, is it likely that the Joint Chiefs will summon the courage to oppose the President at the price of their own careers. In any event, he will be able to replace any general who breaks ranks, and it will be easy for him to find others who will salute.

That's where the people come in.

Fortunately, a lot of activism is already under way. Peace Action--with the backing of United for Peace and Justice, Greenpeace, and Physicians for Social Responsibility--is circulating a petition against war in Iran, as is the After Downing Street Coalition. Several rallies and protests have taken place across the country to try to forestall this madness, and there are sure to be more to come.

But will any of this be enough?

It is conceivable that Bush and Cheney will go it alone, that they will ignore the people, snub Congress, defy the United Nations, blot out criticism from the brass, and launch this illegal war anyway.

They have the power, even though they don't have the legal authority. Who is to stop them?

If Bush and Cheney launch such a war against Iran, you can put to rest any illusion that America is a democracy. It will have become, at least in matters of war and peace, a dictatorship of two.
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Title Annotation:Comment
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Previous Article:Troubletown.
Next Article:Buying influence.

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