While the fires burn in Southern California and thousands of Americans are left homeless, our leaders turn, look at them and refocus their eyes instead on a new war within the Middle East. Neither devastating fire nor flood is enough cause for U.S leadership to reshuffle priorities. War seems to be much more interesting to them.
Why listen to the American voices? The ones that so clearly stated they have had enough confrontations. Well, it seems Congress and the administration must be having trouble hearing because despite the expressed displeasure with Iraq, Congress has yet again given the U.S. administration permission to start a battle. This time with Iran.
Kudos go to Senators Lieberman and Kyl who drew up a nice little amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 giving the U.S. permission to "combat, contain and [stop]" Iran via "military instruments." In addition, they felt it pertinent to call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Definitely pushing the diplomacy envelope there.
With that opening, the Bush administration could not resist. With peace in the Middle East on one hand and "World War III" looming in the other, they "according to U.S. policy," (a.k.a. the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment) went forward formally declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorists and holders of weapons of mass destruction. The administrations "quarrel is not with the Iranian people;" it is with the regime (Llsten here to the sound of toppling dominoes). This weekend there is no doubt that you will see Secretary of State on the Sunday talk show circuit bellowing about a "mushroom cloud."
To date there is no evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons. Although they claim to have the necessary weaponry to reach Israel, they certainly do not have the capability to launch missiles at the United States. Iran can, however, cause many problems for U.S. soldiers in Iraq, especially if we go to war with them.
Today, the statements made by Ms. Rice and others indicate that this is exactly what our nation intends to do. Maybe before they take that leap the illustrious amendment writers should write another law. This time demanding that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) be completely transparent with the information they have on a nuclear Iran. They should also require that intelligence reports -- you know ,the ones that no one reads -- be available for public consumption. Finally, there should be mandatory discussions that focus on how much the U.S. is willing to sacrifice for yet another war.
Instead, they are beginning with the same old tactics used to get us embroiled in Iraq. All of the sudden I'm getting a déja vu and it is not pretty. If the administration is, again, thinking that using "military instruments" is going to bring peace to the Middle East, it is still living in its own reality show (Note: None of these shows even remotely resemble real life).
Congress too should revisit just cause for war. Recently Senator Kyl told us there is "evidence that Iran is influencing Iraq." This Senator is not surprising considering 300,000 Iraqis are in Iran today. They themselves may be the ones bringing in those weapons.
In Iraq, there is also clear evidence that the U.S. is influencing Iraq. Unfortunately their influence is also hurting the American cause. The "executive branch's failure to crack down on illegal weapons traffickers or keep track of third party transfers of U.S. weaponry allowed a substantial flow of U.S.-origin military equipment and military components to make their way to Iraq." (Weapons at War, 2005, World Policy Institute). Soldiers will tell you off that record that they are often shot at by the enemy -- an enemy using American made weapons courtesy of Uncle Sam. May I add here they really don't appreciate it.
U.S. military superiority cannot be contested. However, the ability for this country to fight another war under the current conditions is absurd. There is a severe lack of leadership, vision or strategy. The professionalism of our services and its resources are severely compromised. This administration, which is dually supported by Congress, was in such a hurry to get bodies on the ground to fight a war against non-existent weapons of mass destruction that they forgot to make a plan. Bringing 350,000-plus Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen into the mix is asking for a whole lot more than any of us are ready to swallow.
So for all our sakes let us take a deep breath and think. It is time to think beyond war. Force is not the solution to every problem. If as Ms. Rice says, "we are fully committed to a diplomatic solution," then stop beating those endless drums, put down the guns and remove that yearning for war.