Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Redefining Terrorism, Redefining War

By Cernig

The Bush administration is to take another big step towards war with Iran, according to the Washington Post, by designating an official, uniformed branch of that nation's military as a "specially designated global terrorist."
The main goal of the new designation is to clamp down on the Revolutionary Guard's vast business network, as well as on foreign companies conducting business linked to the military unit and its personnel. The administration plans to list many of the Revolutionary Guard's financial operations.

"Anyone doing business with these people will have to reevaluate their actions immediately," said a U.S. official familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced. "It increases the risks of people who have until now ignored the growing list of sanctions against the Iranians. It makes clear to everyone who the IRGC and their related businesses really are. It removes the excuses for doing business with these people."

For weeks, the Bush administration has been debating whether to target the Revolutionary Guard Corps in full, or only its Quds Force wing, which U.S. officials have linked to the growing flow of explosives, roadside bombs, rockets and other arms to Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also lends support to Shiite allies such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and to Sunni movements such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Although administration discussions continue, the initial decision is to target the entire Guard Corps, U.S. officials said. The administration has not yet decided when to announce the new measure, but officials said they would prefer to do so before the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly next month, when the United States intends to increase international pressure against Iran.
It's a move that will have consequences for international events far beyond its intended focus. Even some neoconservatives are worried that, by such a designation, the Bush administration has handed other states a precedent enabling them to label US military forces as "terrorists" and treat them accordingly under a Bush-like version of the Geneva Conventions. The law of unintended consequences could reach far to bite the US on the ass here.

Others simply trust the White house to know what it is doing. Uber-conservative Dan Reihl is happy that this means war is ever closer:
it helps to set the stage for what we will eventually have to do before Bush leaves office - hit Iran's nuclear facilities.

If we can make life unbearable enough for more moderate forces in Iran before then, we may be able to stop at that, the Iranian people and government then taking it upon themselves to re-think where Iran's been heading these past twenty or so years.

And if not,then Iran will likely be our next hot war, though I imagine it'll look more like Bush 41's war with Iraq, than it will the current conflict in Iraq.

That would give Iran a decade or so to re-group and either begin to embrace genuine modernity on a political front, or continue down a road that will lead to a far costlier war for everyone, most especially Iran.
That's how Bush's base are decoding it, and that's exactly how it is. Any protestations from the White House that they don't want war with Iran can now be consigned to the junkheap of history.

Attywood writes:
an often overlooked sub-plot on the long road toward war with Tehran is this: How could Bush stage an attack on Iran without the authorization of a skeptical, Democratic Congress?

Today, the White House has solved that pesky problem in one fell swoop. By explicitly linking the Iranian elite guard into the post 9/11 "global war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's lawyers would certainly now argue that any military strike on Iran is now covered by the October 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, as part of their overly sweeping response to the 2001 attacks.

This has clearly been the thinking for some time, particularly with talk -- unfulfilled, of course -- by some Democrats on Capitol Hill of either revoking the 2002 authorization or placing explicit curbs on attacking Iran.
Such a move also changes the playing field when it comes to producing evidence of alleged IRG meddling. Which is good for the White house because the evidence they have provided to date is slim, constantly changing its basic claims and often based entirely on hearsay, guesses or suspect interrogation methods. Instead of having to convince an entire international coalition and the UN that a formal war between nation-states is required, Bush can simply strike "terrorists" (a "police action", not a war) and ignore any cries of illegality under international law.

I say "international" law because the 97 sheeple who voted for Joe Lieberman's "Sense of Congress" amendment back in July already gave Bush and Cheney all the domestic legal cover they need.

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