Dover Bitch

Monday, July 16, 2007

Deadly potential

Kagro X read my last post and added an excellent point, that Congress is kidding themselves if they think that "(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of Armed Forces against Iran" will make the administration think twice about proceeding any way they see fit. This is an administration that doesn't think they require any authorization, anyway.

I also forgot a key point I intended to make... One that RJ Eskow briefly touched on in his outstanding essay:

The amendment doesn't just ask for intelligence on Iranian activity. It requires ongoing reports on proactive U.S. efforts against alleged Iranian efforts, placing political pressure on our military to become more active against Iran. Word in Washington is that top military leaders are resisting an attack on Iran, saying we lack the resources. This is a great way to lean on the generals to change their minds.

The way Sen. Feingold put it, "it basically just required a report on Iran's role in Iraq and any responses by the US government" as if this were a passive transaction, like requesting a PDF from the Government Printing Office. Of course, this assignment is a perfect job for whatever Department of Making Stuff Up is currently killing trees and collecting taxpayer dime in the vice president's office.

But, as Eskow writes, this is an "active" role for our military. The amendment doesn't limit in any way the scope or methods of the intelligence-gathering operation. Did Congress essentially justify an incursion into Iran for the purposes of obtaining information for this ongoing reporting? The intelligence has to come from somewhere and, technically, wandering over the border to gather information isn't the same thing as the "use of Armed Forces against Iran."

Not only could the Congressionally-mandated increase in intelligence result in less reluctance on behalf of high-ranking military leaders (or, as I'm sure Cheney and Lieberman dream, the production of some justification for preemption), it also radically increases the potential for armed conflict.

As I mentioned in my last post, when the 15 British sailors were captured in ambiguously-close-to-Iranian waters in March, the Bush administration allegedly offered military options to Tony Blair, who declined. Tony Blair was basically given the power to decide whether or not the United States would go to war with Iran. I cannot understand for a minute how that doesn't infuriate any senators as much as it infuriates me.

But think how disappointed the neocons must have been when Blair didn't allow his sailors to become pawns in Bush's desired war with Iran. Now imagine American soldiers, seeking information for Congress and crossing the border into enemy lines to get it. What happens if a few are captured?

Tony Blair [or Gordon Brown] won't be able to say "no, thanks" when Cheney offers the menu of options next time.

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