Seven Democrats, Four Republicans

all quiet on the western front
"I believe it will be a quick war, that there will be few losses."

I know. 2002 was a really long time ago. But you’d think more than eleven members of Congress would remember that sanctions against Iraq, based on now- (and then-) laughably false accusations, only made it easier for the war instigators to take the next step, to attack the country that was the object of the sanctions.

But no.

Unless you live in the districts represented by seven Democrats–Reps. Baird (WA), Moore (WI), Baldwin (WI), Blumenauer (OR), Kucinich (OH), Waters (CA), McDermott (WA)–or four Republicans–Flake (AZ), Jones (NC), Paul (TX), Duncan (TN)– your congressperson voted for a bill that will pave the way for more severe sanctions on Iran, a country that has not attacked another country in oh, say, two or three centuries, but which  has been accused, repeatedly, and in dozens of different ways, of possessing imaginary nuclear weapons.

It has been accused of this by the U.S.A., a country that possesses, ah, ballpark figure here, 9,960 intact warheads, and has tested them in just slightly irresponsible ways, on hapless Pacific islanders and its own citizens alike. Also, we, uh, used them against a civilian population, not once but twice, without warning, and detonating them at an altitude that insured maximum death and destruction.

So we know how awful nuclear weapons are! Trust us.

But no matter. Iran (“a festering sore,” according to noted trash-talker Harry Reid) is doing something sneaky, and we will do anything to stop them from doing … sneaky things, even if we can’t really say exactly what they are. In the past decade or so, we’ve spent a trillion dollars on a war that started in a manner suspiciously similar to the one we’re ready to get underway. And, as Ron Paul pointed out yesterday, a sanctions regime was an integral part of the buildup to that war.

I don’t agree with everything Paul says, but I don’t see a word of this that I can disagree with. Can you?

I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct House conferees on HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, and I rise in strong opposition again to the underlying bill and to its Senate version as well. I object to this entire push for war on Iran, however it is disguised. Listening to the debate on the Floor on this motion and the underlying bill it feels as if we are back in 2002 all over again: the same falsehoods and distortions used to push the United States into a disastrous and unnecessary one-trillion-dollar war on Iraq are being trotted out again to lead us to what will likely be an even more disastrous and costly war on Iran. The parallels are astonishing.

We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us? These “drones” ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets. Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.

We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq, that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud?

We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests.

Where have we seen this before?

Let us remember a few important things. Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons. According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program. These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime. Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.

Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time. Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to “work” – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option.

This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran. The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law. A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran. I urge my colleagues in the strongest terms to turn back from this unnecessary and counterproductive march to war.

Here I should say, “Contact your Congressman.” But geez. 403-11. Kind of an uphill struggle.

Of course, this war has been on the way since Shock and Awe days (remember: “Anyone can go to Baghdad; Real men go to Tehran”?)

What’s holding up actually attacking? Is there some sanity hiding behind the bellicose talk? Do  the gung-ho Congressfolk and military wizards of our broke-ass country realize the lunacy of opening another front in their crazy Long War (my hope)? Or (my fear) are they just waiting for a better provocation? “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.”

Let’s stop showering the world with Bomb Love

Jeff Huber is a retired Naval commander who provides a pretty refreshing insiderish perspective on our runaway military culture. This is a typical offering. He is also one of the few writers who have mentioned the one thing that makes our insane military state superfluous. Two things, actually: the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The oceans and our size provide us with ample security protection, just as they did in the day of Washington and Jefferson and Franklin. No one can invade and occupy us. Nobody would ever be crazy enough to pop a nuclear missile off in our direction, or in the direction of any of our friends (do we have any of those left?)

No one is interested in competing with us militarily, not even Russia or China. Let’s start coming home and fixing our own problems, and take the world off our shoulders. It will get along fine without us bombing it on a regular basis.

He also is nicely succinct in dismissing the Iran hysteria that afflicts both parties

Iran serves a vital role in the Pentagon’s long war strategy. It’s a neo-East Germany; a pseudo-client state of Russia, plopped in the middle of the Middle East. It gives us a reason to keep troops located in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though none of the 9/11 attackers came from Iraq or even Afghanistan and certainly not from Iran.

Iran is an excuse to keep the war machine rolling.

Iran’s defense budget is less than one percent of ours. It can’t project conventional land power much beyond its borders. Its navy is a coast guard and its air force is a junkyard. It doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. Yet we’re up in arms about it. How senseless.

And he saves some choice words for a former ViceCo-President:

Speaking of senseless, Dick Cheney is on the rampage again. He is the most dishonest, most misguided villain of the 21st century, but when he speaks, he gets more bandwidth than the World Series, the Super Bowl and Internet porn combined. He’s not even attractive to look at or listen to, and he has a proven track record of not knowing what he’s talking about. He’s a militaristic dipswitch.

Huber is often on, and has a blog at Pen and Sword. He is also one of the few writers to follow the grotesque acts of insubordination and/or treason by top military brass. See General Treachery.

Running out of reasons to attack, but not to worry…

Juan Cole says a lot of things I said earlier, but says them better, and with more authority, in Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True.

As Glenn Greenwald reports (quoting Steve Hynd), on Friday “the Obama WH already got more from one buffet lunch with Iran than Bush WH did in 8 years of saber-rattling.” But does that stop the Demonize and Threaten Iran industry? Not a little bit. First, THEY’VE GOT A BOMB. Uh, no. Then, THEY’RE ENRICHING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL FOR A BOMB. Uh, no. Then, THEY HAD A SECRET SITE. Uh, actually, THEY told US about that. But now, they have the DATA TO MAKE A NUCLEAR BOMB. Wow. We should all be trembling.

I was impressed by the results of the talks at the UN Friday, and started thinking maybe Obama will be different. But on reflection, I’m still leaning towards the inevitable denouement of this “crisis” involving things that go bang. It’s just our nature.

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