Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Meet the new war, same as the old war.

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile.
I've been stuck in a funk of frustration, foreboding, and futility for the last few days.
I'm pretty sure we will be attacking Iran in the next few months. Wes Clark has been warning about this for awhile, and the Bush administration's refusal to pursue any diplomatic efforts with the Iranians beyond the most superficial has been tickling my "spidey-sense." Deployment of warships to that part of the Gulf, didn't do anything to dispel my unease, and the press conference this weekend in which unnamed military officials in Iraq claimed that Iranian explosives being used by insurgents in Iraq are being supplied by the highest levels of the Iranian government only cemented my fears.

On Saturday, February 10, 2007, The New York Times' lead front-page article was an alarming piece by Michael Gordon entitled: "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made by Iran, U.S. Says." Back in the fall of 2002, Gordon teamed up with Judith Miller to disseminate the Bush Administration's case that the WMD threat from Baghdad was so dire it warranted invading and occupying Iraq. Now, Gordon is going solo, serving as a stenographer for those in the Bush Administration who are currently pushing for a U.S. military strike on Iran.

Sure Bush Inc. claims they are not planning military action in Iran. At the same time they claim to be willing to use force if Iran doesn't cease it's nuclear energy program, which they claim is really a facade for the development of nuclear weapons. Now, I don't know a whole lot about the intricacies of foreign policy and military tactics, but I'm pretty gol-durn sure that if you are approaching a situation where you claim to be willing to use military force, well somebody somewhere is drawing up some plans. You don't just wake up one day and say,"Oops! It looks like diplomacy and sanctions failed! Get some generals on the horn, and have them start drawing up proposals for military action." How dumb does the administration think we are... Oh, wait, never mind. I think they know exactly how dumb we are, because not only did we elect them, we re-elected them. They know they can have their cake and eat it too, because we let them.

Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace is raising his eyebrow over this one:

The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday the discovery that roadside bombs in Iraq contained material made in Iran does not necessarily mean the Iranian government was involved in supplying insurgents.

At least one source (which unlike the US military sources, has the cajones to reveal it's identity) states that Iran does not even manufacture 81mm shells, the munitions we are supposed to believe are being smuggled into Iraq.

Iran does not manufacture 81mm mortar shells. According to a report offered by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, connected to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the neocon Brookings Institute, the smallest mortar produced by Iran is the 107mm M-30. This information is included in the JCSS’s “Middle East Military Balance,” updated last February. It can be read in this PDF file on page 15. According to JCSS, “The Middle East Military Balance has been the most authoritative source on Middle Eastern Armies since 1983.”

Even stranger, these shells are marked in Roman script using the Gregorian calendar... Iran is an Islamic state. Iran uses the aptly named Iranian calendar. Iran also uses the Farsi script, and past artifacts of the Iranian military have been documented as sticking to this practice.

Isn't that odd? Iranian armaments, including mortar shells, have markings in the Farsi language on them when discovered in the Sudan in 1997, but Iranian arms alleged to have killed 170 US soldiers in Iraq have no Farsi markings on them when captured in 2007. Even odder, most US troop deaths (by far) have occurred in the Sunni areas of Iraq (e.g., Anbar province, around Tikrit, West Baghdad), but these Iranian arms are supposedly being delivered to Shi'a militias.

Surely, Bush and his cronies don't expect us to just roll over and accept this. As the saying goes:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

Of course, seeing as the man can't even remember how this folky old saw goes, maybe he doesn't really understand what it means.

On the other hand, Bush believes at this point that he can pretty much do as he pleases. His concept of a "Unitary Presidency" seen most readily in his policy of signing statements, has made a mockery of the concept of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. Maybe he was napping in American Government class in High School, because while he has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, it seems to me that he has done more than any terrorist ever could to destroy some of the keystones of that document.

As Findlaw columnist Edward Lazarus recently showed, the President does not have unlimited executive authority, not even as Commander-in-Chief of the military. Our government was purposely created with power split between three branches, not concentrated in one.
Separation of powers, then, is not simply a talisman: It is the foundation of our system. James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, No. 47, that:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
Another early American, George Nicholas, eloquently articulated the concept of "power divided" in one of his letters:
The most effectual guard which has yet been discovered against the abuse of power, is the division of it. It is our happiness to have a constitution which contains within it a sufficient limitation to the power granted by it, and also a proper division of that power. But no constitution affords any real security to liberty unless it is considered as sacred and preserved inviolate; because that security can only arise from an actual and not from a nominal limitation and division of power.
Yet it seems a nominal limitation and division of power - with real power concentrated solely in the "unitary executive" - is exactly what President Bush seeks. His signing statements make the point quite clearly, and his overt refusal to follow the laws illustrates that point: In Bush's view, there is no actual limitation or division of power; it all resides in the executive.
Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense:
In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.
The unitary executive doctrine conflicts with Paine's principle - one that is fundamental to our constitutional system. If Bush can ignore or evade laws, then the law is no longer king. Americans need to decide whether we are still a country of laws - and if we are, we need to decide whether a President who has determined to ignore or evade the law has not acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government.

But boring discussions of Constitutional integrity aside, what would be so wrong about some strategic air strikes against Iran, were they deemed necessary?

...the president shook hands with Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi. A grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers, Soroush said, "Mr. President, I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized."
"I know," President Bush answered.
"But does Vice President Cheney know?" asked Soroush.
The president chuckled and walked away.

So far our occupation of Iraq has been the best propaganda campaign the Islamists could hope for, for stirring up anti-American sentiment and recruiting angry young Muslims to fight the "Great Satan." Perhaps, the NeoCons think they can do even better...

What can we do? Contact your congresscritter, your senators, beg, plead, and cajole them to do everything in their power to restrain the executive branch from exacerbating hostilities in the Middle East. Ask for investigation of presidential crimes, and the beginning of the impeachment process. And remind them that while reelection is not hanging over Bush's head any longer, that sword of Damocles is swinging over theirs.

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