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Crime of Treason and the Treasonous Crime of Silence

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It is becoming increasingly clear that the Bush administration is planning another unprovoked war, this time against Iran--a country nearly three times the size of Iraq, with a long history, a strong sense of national identity and nationalism, and a well-equipped and well-trained army.

Such a war would be first and foremost a war crime of the first magnitude--a Crime Against Peace under the Nuremburg Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory.

It would also be an unmitigated disaster. With U.S. forces demonstrably stretched to the limit in the losing battles of Iraq and Afghanistan, there simply are no land forces to spare. Iran on the other hand, has ready-made allies in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq--the Shi'ia populations, and in Iraq's case the Shi'ia militias--well equipped with Iranian-supplied weaponry, which will turn on U.S. forces with a vengeance if given the signal by the Imams in Iran. Hard-pressed U.S. troops in Iraq, who have largely been battling Sunni forces while the Badr militia and the Sadr militia for the most part watched from the sidelines and even helped out against their Sunni rivals, would suddenly find themselves being targeted by those far more numerous Shi'ia fighters.

Shi'ia supporters of Iran in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain would also likely spring into action, unleashing sapper units that would attack U.S. interests and also oil facilities, pipelines and wellheads.

Iran itself, well stocked with mines and with modern anti-ship missiles of Chinese and Russian design, could be expected to wreak havoc on oil tankers, if any dared to sail the Gulf, and possibly on American naval vessels, too. The resulting insecurity would likely bring an effective halt to oil shipments from either Iran or from the "friendly" countries on the other side of the Gulf-Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia--with disastrous effects on oil prices and ultimately on the global economy, which would grind to a halt. (What insurer would cover an oil tanker in the Gulf during wartime?)

All this is patently obvious, and yet we know from various reports, including my own in the Nation, that the plans have been drawn up, that the details are being refined, and that key weapons systems are being moved into place for that invasion.

Skeptics are saying it's impossible--the president and his cronies are not crazy, whatever else they may be, so why would they do something that would inevitably be a disaster, militarily, politically and economically?

The answer is that Bush and his gang don't care. They are focused laser-like on one thing--retaining control of the Congress. And the only thing, at this point, that has a chance of salvaging Republican control of the House, and perhaps even the Senate, is yet another war.

The other thing skeptics say is that Bush would first have to obtain Congressional approval for an attack, as he did in the case of Afghanistan and (sort of) in the case of Iraq.

But while most legal scholars would agree that this is the case, the sad truth is that Bush, in his megalomania (and with the backing of his thuggish attorney general) thinks he doesn't need any approval. In his twisted view of things, an attack on Iran would be just another battle in the ongoing so-called "War" on Terror. Bush made this clear when, in the course of his U.N. address last month, he referred to the leaders of Iran as "supporters of terror." That terminology was no accident.

Bush, for five years now, has argued that the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) approved by the Congress in October 2001 to give the go-ahead for a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, was actually an authorization for an endless war on terror which would have no front, which would occur everywhere, around the globe and inside the U.S., and which would give him special powers as a commander in chief allowing him to ignore both Congress and the Judiciary. There is no justification for this claim to be found in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has already debunked the commander in chief claim, but that doesn't matter to Bush.

The only way this disaster can be halted at this point would be for Congress to convene and to vote a resolution declaring that the 2001 AUMF was no longer in effect. Congress could--and should--also vote a resolution opposing an attack on Iran. At a minimum, this would give the generals and admirals, who reportedly are unhappy about the idea of an Iran War, a basis for opposing the president's mad scheme.

An attack on Iran at this point, in my view, should be seen as an act of treason. Given the nation's precarious position in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and now, with North Korea exploding a nuclear device, on the Korean peninsula, launching another full-scale war against a country that poses no immediate threat has to be seen as a deliberate attempt to weaken and destroy the United States of America. No amount of propaganda at this point can obscure the reality that this is an act of pure, cynical politics, at the expense of countless American and Iranian lives. Its closest parallel would be Hitler's unprovoked attack on Poland in 1939. If it happens, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the attorney general, and the national security advisor, should all be tried for treason and war crimes, and hung on a gallows erected in the rear of the Capitol, in clear view of the Washington and Lincoln monuments, with copies of the Constitution tacked to their breasts.

Meanwhile, what can be said of the Democrats, the supposed party of opposition?

So far, despite increasingly clear evidence that this dreadful war is being set in motion (we have reports that U.S. Special Forces teams are already operating in Iran, which is an act of war), not a single voice has been raised demanding answers to what is going on.

The cowardice and complicity of this ragtag bunch of self-interested, self-perpetuating benchwarmers is close to treason in itself. Didn't they all take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States? Don't they have a patriotic duty to stand up and defend the country and its people against this self-destructive act?

As far as I'm concerned, if this war happens, and the calamity that so obviously will result does follow, the leaders of the Democrats in Congress should be marched right up on that scaffolding alongside Bush and his cronies.
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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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