Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bush and Iran

It's time for Karl Rove and the neoconservatives to turn off the spigot on the talk about war with Iran. It's time for Congress to deal with a president and vice president who cannot be trusted with America's foreign policy. It's time for safeguards to be put in place so that Bush doesn't drag us into a broader war by attacking Iran. After all, we're talking about a president whose stubbornness and incompetence has weakened America over the last six years.

Bush has no authority to take us into war with Iran; but it may take Congress to remind Bush's hand-picked joint chiefs of staff that if the president doesn't have the authority, the military has no authority to go either no matter how many times Cheney jumps up and down and makes demands. I support the military and appreciate what the generals did last spring when a number of generals balked behind the scenes and a number of retired generals covered their backs by taking the prudent step of demanding Rumsfeld's resignation as a way of getting the message across, but clear guidelines need to be put in place.

I've been writing about Iran for over a year and I talked about the possibilities last spring and pointed out that we cannot expect the rational from people like Bush and Cheney who think a double or nothing bet is a worthwhile wager when they are dealing with other people's lives, reputations and fortune. Remember, the civilians in the White House and Pentagon are the gang that can't shoot straight. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has a post on the Bush Administration and it's possible drift towards war with Iran:
Through plan or imbecility (and most likely, given who were talking about, both) they're drifting toward war with Iran.

As I wrote last night, I think the new campaign of anonymous leaks suggesting Iranian involvement in the Najaf raid has rather less than no credibility. But even if you assumed, for the sake of discussion, that it were tied to, say, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and that (as the narrative goes) the attack was retaliation for the Erbil raid on the Iranian consulate, that still would not change the question we face: is it in our national interest to go to war with Iran or not?

Everything flows from the answer to that question. Tits for tats or who started what fade into the background. If the answer's no, we should be calibrating our actions to avoid such an outcome, not taking actions likely to provoke it. We need a regional plan to walk this mess back from the brink rather than simply yanking every thread on this already frayed fabric and watching it disintegrate in front of us.

We've heard a few squawks and warnings from members of Congress. But now is the time for members of the House and the Senate to get serious about asserting some control over this rapid descent.

Americans across the political spectrum need to be very focused for the next few weeks if we are to stall a potentially massive blunder that may take a generation to undo. It's time to write that letter to Congress.

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