• 29 July 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 4 Comments
  • Election 2010, Iran War related legislation

The Republican back door to war with Iran

A game plan to draw the United States into a third war in the Middle East may be quietly unfolding before our eyes.

Late last week, Republicans in the House or Representatives unveiled H.Res.1553, a resolution providing explicit support for an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and forty-six of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force”.

“We have got to act,” Gohmert has said in regard to the measure. “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area.”

But Gohemert’s resolution may be an unprecedented development–Congress has never endorsed pre-emptive military strikes by a foreign country.  What’s more, this is the minority party signaling to Israel that they can count on Republican support should the President object to Israeli strikes on Iran–as did George W. Bush in 2008.  The resolution also explicitly endorses “any means necessary”, a carte blanche for the use of nuclear bunker-busting bombs.

The measure may be overtly political, coming just one week before the Congressional recess in which Members of Congress will return home to their districts to campaign and raise money for the upcoming midterm elections. Democrats and Republicans are in a foot race to demonstrate who can be toughest on Iran. But while Democrats continue to tout newly imposed “crippling” sanctions as evidence of their commitment to pressure, Republicans appear to be moving on to the next phase and are openly endorsing an Israeli strike. Gohmert even argued that instead of sanctions, Congress should have passed his resolution green-lighting military strikes on Iran.

But by encouraging such an attack, supporters of war are effectively working to circumvent the President and his military leadership, who have warned in dire terms against military action in Iran, and instead goading a third country into launching the first strike. Once the bombing campaign has commenced, the authors of this resolution may believe, the US would have few choices but be dragged into war.

In fact, this measure is no small part of a neoconservative agenda to go to war with Iran. The green light resolution is precisely what John Bolton called for two weeks ago in a Wall Street Journal piece that reads as a playbook for dragging the US into military conflict with Iran.

Bolton lays out a game plan in which Congress can “reassure” Israel in order to make a military strike possible. He argued that with “visible congressional support in place”, the President’s concerns about an Israeli strike can be short-circuited.

Some of the resolution’s supporters, like Michelle Bachmann, face tough re-election bids this November and are looking for more red meat to throw the hawks that make up their base.

Bachmann, who for years supported budget-busting foreign wars under George W. Bush, is now the leader of the deficit-obsessed Tea Party Caucus. The caucus has yet to produce a policy paper outlining a plan for a budget-neutral war with Iran.

Others, such as Congressman Dan Burton–now the top Republican on the House Middle East Subcommittee–would hold important leadership positions to shape Iran policy were Republicans able to regain the majority this November.

But by endorsing military strikes, supporters of H.Res.1553 are playing games with US national security and could provoke the US into a third war in the Middle East.

By couching the resolution’s endorsement of bombing Iran as an issue of Israel’s right to self defense–an area that is sacrosanct for many in Congress–supporters of war are framing the question as one of support for Israel rather than the numerous other messy questions that one might want to answer before endorsing military strikes. Will this engulf the Middle East in a “destabilizing” (General Petraeus), “cataclysmic” (Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen) regional war? Will military strikes even stop Iran’s nuclear program? Or will they merely set the program back, convince Iran to leave the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and guarantee that Iran aggressively pursues a nuclear deterrent?

The resolution does not go into the murky details of how devastating a military strike on Iran would be to the US and Israel, not to mention the civilian death toll in Iran, the collapse of Iran’s democratic opposition movement, and the consolidation of popular support by Iran’s now-disputed government.

It doesn’t take into account the dire warnings from US military leadership who have consistently expressed serious concerns about any military options.

But it does give House Republican supporters an opportunity to pretend that they are more concerned about national security and allow them to burnish faux pro-Israel credentials. In some districts, this will play quite well in November.

There are serious consequences for this transparent ploy. A Congressional green light for military strikes is not just politics; it could significantly alter perceptions for those in Israel pressing for strikes and undercut efforts by the President and US military leadership to protect against such impulses.

There is a reason Louie Gohmert is not President, Michelle Bachmann is not the Secretary of Defense,  and that the Tea Party does not comprise the Joint Chiefs. But the scary thing is that this resolution, just by being introduced, may very well represent one step forward towards the US being dragged into a war with Iran.

War with Iran will seem farfetched until it is a fait accompli.

Originally Posted at Foreign Policy Magazine’s Middle East Channel

Posted By Jamal Abdi

    4 Responses to “The Republican back door to war with Iran”

  1. Pirouz says:

    It’s as if it were 1939, and Congress put forward a resolution supporting Germany’s right to self-defense “by any means possible” against the regional ambitions of Poland.

    But, of course, the pre-WWII German lobby was nothing compared to today’s Israel lobby, so we’re left witnessing such a grotesque political spectacle in Washington, such as it is today.

  2. Rob1 says:

    Sargord Pirouz, you’ve taken your patented comparisons and analogies to new outlandish heights. It’s so laughably absurd, it now seems that the IRI is getting the short end of the stick from your services.

  3. Iranian-American says:

    I have to agree with Rob1 on this one. Pirouz, if you would like to be taken seriously, you really need to rethink your ridiculous analogies.

  4. […] the measure, and their motives, in light of a resurgent drumbeat for war with Iran, seem patently sinister. But Gohemert’s resolution may be an unprecedented development–Congress has never endorsed […]

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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