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Down in the Flood: The Senate's Blank Check for War on Iran
On July 11th the U.S. Senate unanimously declared that Iran was committing acts of war against the United States: this 97-0 vote—including Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and Joe Biden—gave George W. Bush a clear and unmistakable casus belli for attacking Iran whenever Dick Cheney tells him to.Thursday, 12 July 2007—As you may know -- unless you rely on the corporate media for your news, of course -- yesterday the U.S. Senate unanimously declared that Iran was committing acts of war against the United States: a 97-0 vote to give George W. Bush a clear and unmistakable casus belli for attacking Iran whenever Dick Cheney tells him to.
The bipartisan Senate resolution – the brainchild (or rather the bilechild) of Fightin' Joe Lieberman – affirmed as official fact all of the specious, unproven, ever-changing allegations of direct Iranian involvement in attacks on the American forces now occupying Iraq. The Senators appear to have relied heavily on the recent New York Times story by Michael Gordon that stovepiped unchallenged Pentagon spin directly onto the paper's front page. As Firedoglake points out, John McCain cited the heavily criticized story on the Senate floor as he cast his vote.
To be sure, stout-hearted Dem tribunes like Dick Durbin insisted that their support for declaring that Iran is "committing acts of war" against the United States should not be taken as an "authorization of military action." This is shaky-knees mendacity at its finest. Having officially affirmed that Iran is waging war on American forces, how, pray tell, can you then deny the president when he asks (if he asks) for authorization to "defend our troops?" Answer: you can't. And you know it.
This vote is the clearest signal yet that there will be no real opposition to a Bush Administration attack on Iran. This is yet another blank check from these slavish, ignorant goons; Bush can cash it anytime. This is, in fact, the post-surge "Plan B" that's been mooted lately in the Beltway. As you recall, there was much throwing about of brains on the subject of reviving the "Iraq Study Group" plan when the "surge" (or to call it by its right name, the "punitive escalation") inevitably fails. Bush put the kibosh on that this week ("Him not gonna do nothin' that Daddy's friends tell him to do! Him a big boy, him the decider!"), but that doesn't mean there isn't a fall-back position – or rather, a spring-forward position: an attack on Iran, to rally the nation behind the "war leader" and reshuffle the deck in Iraq.
Of course, the United States is already at war with Iran. We are directing covert ops and terrorist attacks inside Iran, with the help of groups that our own government has declared terrorist renegades. We are kidnapping Iranian officials in Iraq and holding them hostage. We have a bristling naval armada on Iran's doorstep, put there for the express purpose of threatening Tehran with military action. The U.S. Congress has overwhelmingly passed measures calling for the overthrow of the Iranian government. And now the U.S. Senate has unanimously declared that Iran is waging war on America, and has given official notice that this will not be tolerated. It is only a very small step to move from this war in all but name to the full monty of an overt military assault.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: there is madness at work here. There is no other word for it. As I noted a few years ago:
Homo sapiens is the only species that dreams of its own total demise. Our brief history of conscious thought is replete with vivid scenarios of the end of life on earth....Religion has produced most of these -- giddy, voluptuous nightmares of universal extinction, usually by fire, at divine order. A favored remnant is always saved in such tales, of course, but only after being transformed into some different, higher order of being. The gross human body -- that bleeding, fouling, endlessly replicating sack of earth -- is gleefully consigned to eternal oblivion.Who would have thought the floodwaters of this death vision would have risen so high again so soon? Yet here they are again, beating against the gates.
UPDATE: Jonathan Schwarz points out that all of the Senate's Democratic candidates for president voted for Lieberman's Iran War amendment: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and Joe Biden. Just in case you were expecting a saner foreign policy after the 2008 election.
UPDATE II: Meanwhile, George Milhouse Bush wants to make one thing perfectly clear: even in the highly unlikely (if not totally impossible) event that the Senate grows a rudimentary spine and tries to place the slightest obstacle in the way of a military attack on Iran, the Commander Guy will peremptorily veto it and instigate the mass murder anyway.
Spencer Ackerman at TPM Cafe found this gem of arrogant defiance in "a little-noticed letter from the White House to Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee." The main subject of the letter was a similar vow to veto any restrictions on Bush's ability to continue his war crime in Iraq. The passsage concerning Iran might seem redundant now, after the Senate's vote on Lieberman's "Persia delenda est!" measure, which puts a gun in Bush's hand and screams for him to pull the trigger, but the President is obviously taking no chances.
Chris Floyd is an American journalist and the Editor and co-founder of the Atlantic Free Press. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including the Nation, CounterPunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many others. He is the author of Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, and is co-founder and editor of the "Empire Burlesque" political blog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column originally appeared on Chris Floyd's site, and is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on July 13, 2007.