Thursday, July 12, 2007

97 Sheeple In A Big Room

By Cernig

In a 97 -0 vote in favor of an amendment initiated by Joe Lieberman (D-Neocon) yesterday and originally co-sponsored by Kyl, Graham, Collins and Sessions, the U.S. Senate passed the following (full text here):

Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--

(1) the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable and unacceptable act against the United States by the foreign government in question; and

(2) the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran must take immediate action to end any training, arming, equipping, funding, advising, and any other forms of support that it or its agents are providing, and have provided, to Iraqi militias and insurgents, who are contributing to the destabilization of Iraq and are responsible for the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces.
The "findings" that justify such a "Sense of Congress - which is easily paraphrased, by Lieberman among others, as "Iran is participating in acts of war against the United States" - are the same old paranoid adding 2 and 2 to get 5 which has characterized Bush administration claims about Iran all along. Most if not all have been examined and found lacking in evidence or reaching too far beyond the evidence when held up to the light. Every single one is now on record as being accepted as gospel by the Senate.

Levin and Salazar actually rushed to be included as co-sponsors of this bilge!

The amendment goes on to stipulate a report within 30 days and every 60 days thereafter which will, they think, set about:
describing and assessing in detail--

(A) any external support or direction provided to anti-coalition forces by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran or its agents;

(B) the strategy and ambitions in Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and

(C) any counter-strategy or efforts by the United States Government to counter the activities of agents of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq.

(2) FORM.--Each report required under paragraph (1) shall be in unclassified form, to the extent practical consistent with the need to protect national security, but may contain a classified annex.
Which lets the administration "fix the intelligence around the policy" just as was done in the run-up to the Iraq invasion - and the good Senators will swallow it all whole again because they will erroneously believe (yet again) that what the Bush administration tells them in semi-secret reports must be of the highest quality and rigorously fact-checked. Implicit in their willingness to swallow the Bush administration's line will be their collective belief that what they learn is somehow inherently better than the views of independent experts, foreign journalists and even foreign intelligence agencies because, hey, they're powerful insiders of the most powerful nation on earth.

Even though I read about this last night and decided to sleep on it, I am still amazed and outraged this morning by the unthinking ability of U.S. Senators to swallow the same crap twice.

There are two passages in the amendment, both inserted into the final draft but not present in Lieberman's original, which attempt to give the good senators a fence to sit on.
Congress supports U.S. diplomacy with the representatives of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to stop any actions by the Iranian government or its agents against U.S. service members in Iraq.
and:
Nothing in this section shall be construed as to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of Armed Forces against Iran.
Such inclusions aren't going to prevent the Bush administration throwing it's hands up and saying "we can't do diplomacy with Iran any more". And when the vote for authorizing force comes around, as both Atrios and Sean-Paul noted, their votes for this amendment will make it next to impossible for them to vote against such authority. The Dems in the Senate have been neatly mousetrapped, again.

I'm going to leave the last words to Ian Welsh, because he is so very, very right.
Americans are being played. They are being played exactly the way they were played in the run-up to the Iraq war. Every piece of evidence that Iran has been attacking the US has been dubious, unsourced or so vague as to be meaningless. Even if Iran was supplying some weaponry, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is supplying some to the US's allies in the Badr brigades, for example, ask yourself very clearly if you're willing to go to war over that and if you think that supplying weapons to a group resisting an occupation is really a causus belli. Because the US has done it, itself, more than once.

Leaving aside all considerations of morality and of the US's foreign reputation, a war against Iran right now is military insanity. The US is currently losing two wars already and Iran is in a position to shut off the majority of Middle Eastern oil supplies. Trust me, a few weeks, even, of over $200 or $300 a barrel oil, absolute shortages throughout the world, and no US citizen will be safe anywhere outside US sovereign soil because everyone, even Europeans, will be paying for America's splendid little war.

Senators were played in the run up to the Iraq war. They're being played again right now, and so are Americans. The drumbeat of propaganda against Iran is never ending, mostly false (or at least unverifiable, and the US has no credibility on these questions) and planted in all the same places as the propaganda against Iraq was.
The Newshoggers' previous posts on the Bush administration's neocon narative for war with Iran, along with the complicit stenography of the U.S. media and examinations of what the actual evidence really says, can be found here. I urge any Senate-critters who wander by to read them carefully.

Update Ian Welsh again:
The language of the bills and resolutions being passed is largely irrelevant except as a propaganda matter, unless one of them specifically either authorizes force or forbids it. Under the War Measures Act, as I understand it, Bush has full authority already to attack Iran for 3 months before coming back to Congress. By the time 3 months is over, well, the point is moot. Congress gave up its war powers decades ago, and since then Presidents may prefer to come to Congress, but they don't really have to.

...The bottom line is simple - while, under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war, Congress long ago abrograted that responsibility to the President. Bush is the Decider, every American, including Senators, are nothing but peasants when it comes to warmaking, and only Bush's decision matters. The only way Congress could, conceivably, do anything is to pre-emptively impeach Bush.
Which it is long past time they did. And Cheney too.

But while Congress cannot prevent Bush taking the US into a war without it specifically forbidding force - something Dubya's said he would veto and if needed ignore in any case - they can certainly give him political cover for launching a war. And that's exactly what the Dems in the Senate did yesterday.