February 01, 2007

Time Has Run Out -- and the Choice Is Yours

Shorter Michael Ledeen:
I never, ever, ever wanted a war with Iraq! Nope. No sirree. No, indeedy. NO NO NO.

And I really don't want a war with Iran! I do NOT! NO NO NO NO NO!

Just regime change. In Syria, too. But NO WAR. Just like I said about Iraq.
One sentence from Ledeen is worth noting here:
Never has a country strained so hard to avoid a conflict as the United States concerning Iran.
When I see such statements from people with views like Ledeen's, I always wonder: Is their self-delusion so complete, is their refusal to allow even one fact to bring into question their predetermined worldview so absolute, that they genuinely believe what they're saying? Does Ledeen think his statement is true? Or does he know he's lying? I have no idea. In the end, it doesn't matter. What does matter is the great damage that results from such hugely distorted and false statements.

In an article entitled, "The Writing's on the Wall for Iran," Leon Hadar writes:
Rejecting the notion that the United States was planning to attack Iran and Syria, White House spokesman Tony Snow called it a myth or an "urban legend".

"I want to address [a] kind of a rumor, an urban legend that's going around," Snow told reporters at a White House briefing two days after President George W Bush vowed to go after Iranian terrorist networks involved in Iraq violence. "What the president talked about in his speech on Iraq strategy is defending American forces within Iraq," Snow insisted.


As a journalist who covered Washington in the months leading up to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, I recall the many "urban legends" that were circulating at that time. These included rumors about how Vice President Dick Cheney and then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld were pushing for a war with Iraq; about how their aides were pressuring the intelligence agencies to come up with "estimates" to help exaggerate the Iraqi WMD threat and Baghdad's alleged ties to al-Qaeda; about how the Americans and the British were secretly drawing up a strategy for a military confrontation with Iraq while pledging to continue to pursue diplomacy; and about how some of the leading Iraqi exiles lobbying for the "liberation" of Iraq, such as Ahmad Chalabi, were untrustworthy characters.

I read some of these reports in the press; others reached me through the grapevine. They were all immediately denied by the White House press officer. Yet after the war had been raging, most of these "rumors" proved to be based on fact. In a way, any political analyst familiar with the way Washington works and the way decisions are made there - who could read between the lines of media reports and official statements, and who would deconstruct the modus operandi and body language of Bush and his aides - had no choice but to conclude that war with Iraq was inevitable. In that case, the conventional wisdom got it right.

So it's not surprising that journalists and pundits who continue to follow their professional instincts are experiencing a certain sense of deja vu as they begin to wonder these days whether Bush and his aides are planning to expand the current war in Iraq to Iran (and Syria).


[A]t the center of the US anti-Iran campaign was the effort to end Iranian plans to develop nuclear weapons - allegations based on questionable intelligence estimates from Washington and Jerusalem - either through diplomatic means or, the efforts implied, otherwise.


[A]nyone who knows how to assess the balance of power in Washington will tell you that when the Americans are joined by the Saudis and the Israelis and their powerful supporters in Washington in a coordinated effort to harm you, run fast for cover. Both the Soviets fighting against Osama bin Laden and his mujahideen allies (assisted by Washington) in Afghanistan and the Iranians attacked by Saddam's Iraqi military (assisted by Washington) learned that lesson in the 1980s.


[A]ny retaliation from an Israeli attack on Iran would probably necessitate a US response, which Congress would have no choice but to support. It is quite likely that if Iran also decided to unleash its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon and encouraged them to attack Israel, the Israelis would respond by invading Syria and forcing out Bashar al-Assad - another "regime change" that might benefit the interests of US allies in Lebanon.

And of course, the Bush administration would then dismiss the notion that the strike by a client state received a green (or at least a yellow) light from the White House as another "urban legend".
Hadar has much more.

I indicated the other day some crucial actions the Democrats in Congress could take to stop these events, which are already gathering terrifying momentum. I repeat those suggestions here (this was originally a comment on another blog):
If ... the Democrats showed some leadership, there is one other issue they desperately need to address: Iran.

They should rescind the Iraq authorization of force resolution (Lindorff's reference is to the earlier one, passed right after 9/11 -- both should be burned to a crisp), since Bush uses the authorizations to maintain that he already has authority to attack Iran (and anyone else he chooses). And they should pass resolutions stating that, if Bush attacks Iran in the absence of a Congressional Declaration of War (remember those?), that will be grounds for immediate impeachment.

And they should draft articles of impeachment NOW, just in case they need them. And they should publish them in every major newspaper, and read them on television every night.

I have still more specifics, but that should get them going.
It simply is not true there's nothing the Democrats can do to stop the drive toward a wider war. For God's sake, they control Congress now. There's plenty they can do -- if they want to, and if they want to lead. The actions outlined above are critical; all of them together would throw a huge roadblock in the path of this criminal administration.

But do the Democrats want to lead in this manner, and take on the responsibility of educating the American public about the incomprehensible dangers that would be unleashed if we were to attack Iran? See my essay, "Morality, Humanity and Civilization: 'Nothing remains...but memories'," for much more on this.

If, several months or a year from now, we are in the middle of a catastrophic and ever-widening war triggered by an attack on Iran (by either the U.S. or Israel), let no Democrat be heard to say: "But there wasn't anything we could do! We didn't want this to happen, but there wasn't anything we could do to stop it!"

It's absolutely not true. If this nightmare should come to pass, they will be its co-equal creators together with the executive branch. I don't think people are willing to face just how disastrous the consequences of an attack on Iran would be. Again, read my earlier essay for further details. But people had better face it now, if they want to have a chance of stopping it.

Issuing statements of strong disapproval and generally deploring what the administration does are not remotely close to sufficient at this point. Undo both authorization of force resolutions, pass a resolution regarding impeachment, draft articles of impeachment now, and talk about the great dangers that face us every single day. And do it right now.

If the Democrats won't take any of these actions, they will bear equal responsibility for what may unfold in the near future. The choice is theirs, and time has run out.

Those who are in contact with various Democrats should remind them every day of the grave responsibility that is now theirs. The rest of us must do our part as well, as I try to do here. No miracle will save us -- unless we create it ourselves.

It's up to Congress, and to all of us.

(If you have additional ideas about actions Congress and the rest of us can take, please let us know, either on your own blog or write to me: arthur4801 -at- yahoo.com. The more ideas, the better.)

UPDATE: Scott Ritter makes much the same point about the authorizations of force, and he has some additional very good ideas about what the Democrats can do.