Sunday, October 29, 2006

Iran sounds an awful lot like Iraq - Los Angeles Times

David Seaton's News Links
Just because the Iraq war was a stupid idea that has gone terribly wrong doesn't mean that the system that produced that stupid idea isn't capable of producing an endless stream of even more stupid ideas. War with Iran is NOT, repeat NOT "off the table"... not for a minute. DS

Abstract: An embattled president, a Congress distracted by a sex scandal, looming midterm elections — and yet overwhelming agreement, with scant debate or publicity, on fateful legislation that set the nation on a path to war. It happened eight autumns ago, when three-quarters of the House of Representatives and every single senator voted for regime change in Iraq. Has it happened again, on Iran? Four weeks ago, Congress enacted and President Bush signed the Iran Freedom Support Act, a resolution very much in the spirit of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. It mandates sanctions against any country aiding Iran's nuclear programs, even those to which that country is legally entitled under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The new law got virtually no coverage in the congressional rush to adjourn and amid the controversy surrounding e-mails between Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and teenage boys serving in the House page program. (...) But if the confrontation over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program ends in war — initiated by this administration or the next — you can bet this law will be cited as proof that Congress was onboard all along. The congressional action isn't the only sign of déjà vu. Recent months have seen the creation of an "Iran directorate" at the Pentagon, using some of the same personnel as the Office of Special Plans, the shadowy Pentagon outfit led by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith that was accused of massaging raw intelligence on Iraq to make the case for war look far more solid than in fact it was. Iran has now supplanted Iraq as the greatest single threat to the United States, according to the National Security Strategy released earlier this year. Articles in the New Yorker and Time describe an accelerated rate of contingency military planning in an environment in which many senior officials — on the military and civilian sides — consider war with Iran more a question of when rather than if.(...) Once again, U.S. officials are discounting the work of U.N. weapons inspectors on site, and, once again, those inspectors — and the agencies for which they work — are saying that the best way to contain the nuclear threat is to keep them in place. "People confuse knowledge, industrial capacity and intention," Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Newsweek magazine in an interview last week. "A lot of what you see about Iran right now is assessment of intentions."(...) In 1998, the Clinton administration went along with the Iraq Liberation Act reluctantly, fearing that the law's stark anti-Saddam Hussein line would tie its hands. Republican leaders were demanding a tough line, and Democrats, facing midterm elections in the shadow of President Clinton's pending impeachment, were eager to go along.(...) Smart politics? Most Republicans and most Democrats appear to believe that it is — that it's a good idea to take Iran off the table, to make sure it doesn't figure as an issue in the Nov. 7 elections. It's reminiscent of the decision many of them made before the midterms in 1998 and again in 2002, when the bipartisan vote authorizing use of force against Iraq made the looming war almost a nonissue in that year's midterm elections. Maybe this time, on Iran, someone will yet decide that it's worth taking the debate to the people. READ MORE

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