Bush is now a lame duck president in domestic affairs. There is almost nothing he can do with a tired and hostile Congress. The best he can hope for is to maneuver agencies under the Executive Branch into positions that will cost the Democrats "political capital" to undo when they take over in 2009. He sees the middle east as the place where he will have made his mark, and mark it he has.
"It's very difficult to force a president, once you've given him power to go to war, to get him to change," said Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan Defense Department official now at the liberal Center for American Progress. "It's almost impossible for Congress to do that."This quotation is from an article by Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman in the Washington Post Sunday, in which they describe the seeming deadlock between anti-war Democrats and the rest of Congress on how to proceed. The real issue is much more important, strangely, than when we decide to draw down our troops in combat in Iraq. The real problem is preventing CheneyBush from attacking Iran.
The problem is not that there is provocation for doing so, but that the Congress has already authorized the attack in the legislation authorizing the invasion of Iraq! Yes, the President has the agreement of Congress that any act of hostility against the American or coalition forces may be responded to with force of arms. Bush does not have to go to a hostile Congress for permission to attack Iran, all he needs to do is show a reasonable pretext for doing so. And, of course, he has been doing this for months and escalating the rhetoric recently as this article in the (UK)Sunday Telegraph describes.
It becomes a problem for those of us who think that there might be a better way to deal with Iran than bombing the hell out of it. It is pretty clear that Iran has been up to no good in the middle east for a generation. The ayatollahs and the elite military cadre have been funding and provisioning Hezbollah through Syria. They have been supplying insurgents in Iraq. They have been working tirelessly on nuclear materials refining—they say for power, we say for weapons.
The reason we ran "Alive Day" all day on Sunday was to impress on our readers the simple fact that war is literally hell. There is nothing, as one of the wounded plainly said, glorious about war. In modern warfare it is a deadly business in which civilians take the brunt of the violence. Two million refugees from Iraq so far, and these are the lucky ones; the unlucky are homeless, maimed, or dead—some 800,000 of them! An attack on Iran, perhaps using bunker-buster nuclear weapons ... leading to who knows what later on ... will destroy Iran and produce a nation of enemies, that do not now exist there.
Dispassionate observers in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran believe that only an tiny minority of the population actually believes and follows the "Great Satan" line coming from the ayatollahs and from President Ahmadinejad. Bombs cannot distinguish between these basically peaceful citizens and the elite military and theocratic ayatollahs. It will become a conflagration that ends with the United States, now clearly extended well beyond its military means, badly humbled and the civilian population of the United States needlessly risked to produce a thrilling end to Bush's presidential legacy.
It will not suffice to simply write blogs and websites about this, much less to just read them and sigh. It is necessary that everyone within the sound of my voice call their representative in Congress this week and tell them that an attack on Iran is utterly unacceptable, that as the Congress they must make it clear to Bush, in advance, that they will not stand for it.
The intelligence will be manipulated and the job of the media is to question and to question again. Then their job is to remain neutral and resist with every fiber of the beings the wish of corporate leaders to fall in behind the President. Nothing could be more crucial than to maintain our discourse among ourselves without getting carried away by emotion and what will very likely be fabricated intelligence.
As for Iran, well, an airtight isolation of that country by all peace-loving peoples would be appropriate. If North Korea or Syria violates the seige then they should be punished where they stand. Eventually, Iran will break. There is evidence that there is sufficient discontent to give the ayatollahs a reason to worry. They are not suicides, and they will not risk their power base ... but they will try our patience. They should come to know that we are infinitely patient and can outlast any of them.