There is increasing discussion and speculation
about the possibility of an American military strike against Iran prior to President
Bush leaving office. The justification for such an attack is derived from Iran's
continued refusal to adhere to Security Council demands that it suspend its
enrichment of uranium (a program Iran contends is exclusively for peaceful energy
purposes) and Bush administration assertions that Iran operates as a state sponsor
of terror. While Iran denies any wrongdoing on its part, the Bush administration
has successfully positioned itself, both domestically and internationally, so
that it is Iran which must demonstrate its innocence of the charges made against
it, as opposed to America proving its guilt.
There are those who say that such observations are moot. The Bush administration
may want to act against Iran, this thinking goes, but is unable to do so due
to an overstretched military strained by open-ended conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan
and a worsening economic situation at home brought on, in part, by soaring oil
prices, and as such any military attack on Iran would be an act of madness.
Such reasoning may not be enough to give pause to those within the Bush administration
who cling to an ideology which links the national security of the United States
to a transformed Middle East, one where regimes such as the theocracy in Tehran
must be eliminated if there is to be any hope of long-term peace and stability.
For these true believers, it is not action against Iran which would constitute
an act of madness, but rather any failure to act.
Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. military has sufficient military capacity
to initiate, and sustain, military strike options ranging from a limited attack
against one or two targets, lasting less than a day, to a massive aerial bombardment
of Iran lasting 30-45 days. Current speculation holds that the Pentagon is leaning
toward the limited strike option, but given the fact that no one can predict
how Iran would respond to even a limited air strike against its territory, the
potential for escalation exists which finds the United States engaged in an
all-out aerial onslaught against Iran is all too real.
Those who look to the Congress of the United States to prevent or forestall
an attack against Iran do so in vain. Congressional inaction on the issue of
Iran has created a situation where there are no Constitutional impediments to
the Bush administration taking military action. Not only has the U.S. Senate
passed a non-binding resolution (Kyl-Lieberman) which labels the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Command as a terrorist group, but it has left in place, unchanged, two
war powers resolutions (September 2001 and October 2002) which give the President
free reign to use military force against the forces of terror, state and non-state
sponsored alike. Efforts to have the US Congress make use of its power of the
purse to mandate that the President must seek, and get, Congressional approval
to strike Iran before any U.S. taxpayer funds can be expended, have likewise
failed to gain any momentum. This failure to act itself serves as a facilitator
for military action, since it demonstrates not only a lack of will in the U.S.
Congress to oppose military action against Iran, but conversely, a recognition
on the part of Congress that such action is not only within the right of the
President to initiate, but also represents a legitimate course of action.
Those who have formulated the policies of the Bush administration which have
placed Iran and America on a collision course have done so not on a whim, but
rather based upon deep and sincere ideologically based conviction which holds
that such a course of action is in the best interests of the United States.
The ideologues who populate the current Bush administration, especially those
associated with the Office of the Vice President, imbued with an unprecedented
level of influence on matters pertaining to national security and defense, may
feel obliged to initiate a military strike against Iran prior to leaving office,
not for the purpose of achieving any permanent result, but rather to ensnare
a new President in a situation where the political-military options for Iran
policy are limited by the reality of ongoing conflict.
It may transpire that there is no military clash between Iran and the U.S.
and the future President of the United States enters office free to undertake
any policy direction he chooses. However, to sit back and do nothing in hopes
of such a scenario unfolding is akin to planning to fund your child's college
education by playing the lottery. You might win, but the overwhelming odds are
against you. It is high time for Congress to stop gambling on the future of
the United States by doing nothing about the issue of Iran. There has never
been a more pressing need than the present for Congressional hearings about
American policy toward Iran. Getting Congress to act should be the highest priority
for every American citizen, before it is too late.