Thursday, August 30, 2007

What could stop the Bush administration from attacking Iran?

On Tuesday of this week, President Bush spoke at the 89th annual national convention of the American Legion in Reno, Nevada. In front of an audience clearly supportive of Bush’s war aims, he really let loose on Iran. The full speech is available in five video clips, available here.

Wednesday, McClatchy headlined its article about Bush’s speech, "Bush sells Iraq troop-surge policy, slams Iran." The article was alarming enough, but Glenn Greenwald's post this morning for, "The president's escalating war rhetoric on Iran," made me feel very fearful that Bush indeed is likely to attack Iran.

Greenwald described Bush’s speech as containing “…more overt war threats than ever before towards Iran,” followed by several excerpts, including, “Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.” (Applause.)

“Bush also added: ‘I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities.’ To underscore the fact that this is not mere rhetoric, the U.S. military in Iraq, following Bush's speech, arrested and detained eight Iranian energy experts meeting in Baghdad with the Iraqi government -- handcuffing, blindfolding, and interrogating them -- only to then release them when the Iraqi government protested. The path we are on -- with 160,000 of our troops in Iran's neighbor, escalating war-threatening rhetoric, and increasingly provocative acts -- is obviously the path to war.”

Greenwald then asks what could stop the Bush administration from attacking Iran: “Viewed through the prism of presidential jargon, Bush's vow – ‘We will confront this danger before it is too late’ -- is synonymous with a pledge to attack Iran unless our array of demands are met. He is unmistakably proclaiming that unless Iran gives up its nuclear program and fundamentally changes its posture in the Middle East, ‘we will confront this danger.’ What possible scenario could avert this outcome? [italics mine]

Greenwald runs through a number of possibilities: “There are, of course, significant steps that the Congress could take to impose at least some restraints on the Bush administration's ability to attack Iran unilaterally. It could make clear that the existing Iraq AUMF does not include authorization to attack Iran inside Iranian territory. It could enact legislation requiring Congressional approval before an attack on Iran is authorized. It could make clear that no funding will be available for any such attack in the absence of a Resolution authorizing a new war....

“But all of that is exceedingly unlikely. The Bush administration is obviously aware of how weak the Congress is. Even the most mild of those measures -- an amendment which would merely have required Congressional authorization before the administration attacks Iran -- was meekly withdrawn by Democratic House leaders back in May because, as The Hill reported, Israeli-centric Congressmen and AIPAC itself ‘lobbied heavily to remove the Iran provision in the supplemental.'
"Last month, the Senate unanimously passed a Lieberman-sponsored resolution gratuitously accusing Iran of acts of war against the U.S. -- a resolution with no purpose other than to strengthen the case for war against Iran. Clearly, Congress can (or at least will) do nothing to restrain the White House."

Greenwald points out that “The two most extremist factions when it comes to the Middle East -- Israel-centric neoconservatives and Christian evangelicals -- have long been telling the President that stopping Iran is his most important mission, the ultimate challenge that history will use to judge his strength, character and conviction. And it is beyond question that those are the groups who continue to hold the greatest sway over the decision-making process of the Commander-in-Chief himself."

There’s so much more in Greenwald’s post; I urge you to read the whole thing.

(photo of President Bush speaking to the American Legion on August 28, from the American Legion website)

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