Democrats Blink On Iran Restriction

Democrats Blink on Iran Restriction
Khatami Calls on Iran to Allay Western Fears

The Democrats are blinking and taking out of proposed legislation a provision that would have forbidden Bush to take military action against Iran without coming to the Congress first (i.e. without acting in accordance with the Constitution). I’m not sure why you need a statute, anyway, to ensure that the Constitution is followed . . . Except that it has been so long since presidents have paid much attention to the Constitution. The Imperial Presidency has overshadowed it, just as Emperor Augustus overshadowed the Roman Republic.

Those who said that such a provision would take the military option off the table with regard to Iran are simply wrong. It just required that the president make the case for a war to the legislature, which declares war. The option was still there if the legislature wanted it to be.

But after the Iraq fiasco it is amazing to me that Washington is still talking about going to war against Middle Eastern countries that pose no threat to the US mainland. The US got where it is after World War II by mostly avoiding direct military campaigns and occupations. The US does not have the resources to occupy two Middle Eastern oil states, and trying to do so will break it as surely as imperial overstretch broke its predecessors among the great powers. Those who think all this is good for Israel are being short-sighted. If the US spirals down into a non-entity over the next 30 years as a result of over-stretch, Israel will be left without a great power patron and might well not survive. The Europeans are fed up with its militarism and itchy trigger finger, and it hasn’t made any friends in its own region.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on the US to keept its troops in Iraq for the time being and only exit “responsibly.” He also egged the US on to confront Iran.

Iran hasn’t threatened to attack Israel militarily, and in fact has denounced the killing of innocent civilians. The Iranian regime doesn’t like what it calls the Zionist occupation regime, and hopes it will dissolve the way the Soviet Union did. But Tehran hasn’t threatened an attack. Olmert’s insinuations to the contrary are typical of rightwing Zionist propaganda, in which aggressive and expansionist intentions are always dressed up as defensive in nature.

Olmert–that great military genius–isn’t someone Americans should be listening to on the subject of war. And, he should be careful in seeming to try to influence the US government to stay in Iraq, since such a stance is extremely unpopular and getting moreso over here. Sooner or later the American public is going to rebel against the hold that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has over the US Congress, especially if they think it is getting their children blown up halfway around the world.

Oh, and of course Olmert offered the US $3 billion a year to help defray the costs of the Iraq War, which he says is benefitting Israel. After all, the Saudis gave the US billions for the Gulf War in 1990-1991. But no, not really. Olmert isn’t offering any actual help to the US of any sort. In fact, we’re each being taxed personally to help pay for Olmert’s creeping colonization of the West Bank and his vast land theft from the poor displaced Palestinians, which in turn provokes hatred of Americans and puts us in danger. So too does the American attempt to occupy militarily an Arab country like Iraq. If we don’t get out of there soon, it will bring a horrible retribution on us.

In Iran, former President Mohammad Khatami urged the Iranian government to find a way of allaying North Atlantic fears over Iran’s civilian nuclear research program, which Khatami said is not aimed at producing a bomb. He said he recognized legitimate concerns about all this in the West, but believed that they could be allayed if handled properly. Many Iranians are worried about UN Security Council sanctions, since they saw how such measures turned Iraq into a fourth world country in the 1990s. Khatami was president for 8 years and tried to reach out to the US and Europe, but was consistently blown off, including by Cheney in 2003.

One journalist estimates that just health care for the returned wounded US veterans of the Iraq War will come to $2.5 trillion.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the Iraqi National List (secular nationalists) and the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni fudnamentalists) have rejected the presentation of the draft oil bill to parliament. They insist that first the review and amendment of the constition must be accomplished, and then the oil law can be considered. I presume what is going on here is that these two lists reject the constitutional provisional for provinces to join together into provincial confederacies, and they want it taken out the of the constitution. And, they are holding up the oil law, which would benefit the Shiite government, as a form of blackmail. But if the Shiites and the Kurds together want to pass the oil bill into law, they don’t need these two party lists, so the blackmail isn’t actually likely to work.

Al-Zaman also reports on Vice Premier (Sunni) Salam al-Zawba’i’s negotiations in Damascus over the status and treatment of the estimated 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in that country. Syria has recently been putting its foot down and demanding some international aid (i.e. what the political scientists call “rent”) to help take care of them all. Ironically, negotiating the disposition of the Iraqi refugees in Syria has become the main avenue to direct US/Syria talks.

Al-Zaman says that Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani flew to Riyadh in hopes of getting the Saudis to talk to Turkey about improving relations with the Iraqi Kurds. Ankara is unhappy with Kurdistan’s moves toward greater autonomy and its determination to annex the oil-rich Kirkuk province. Turkey is also upset that the Iraqi Kurds are harboring the PKK guerrillas that blow things up inside Turkey. I’m not sure why Barzani thinks that Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist state, would have much sway with the militantly secular Kemalist officers in Ankara.

After the extensive slaughter of the pilgrims during the past week, the Iraqi guerrillas appear to have taken Monday off. Still, 20 bodies showed up in Baghdad’s streets on Sunday, and there were scattered assassinations and mortar attacks throughout the country on Monday.

The USG Open Source Center paraphrases Iraqi news items for March 12:

“Dar al-Salam carries on the front page a 150-word on the large demonstration in Al-Ramadi demanding the immediate release of a woman detained by occupation forces. . .

Al-Zaman publishes on the front page a 240-word report entitled “Iraqi National Bloc Calls for Postponement of Discussion on Oil and Gas Bill. . .”

Al-Zaman publishes on page 4 a 200-word report on the statement issued by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani yesterday, 11 March, urging pilgrims not to believe people alleging that they are ambassadors of the Imam Al-Mahdi [the Muslim Promised One] . . .

Al-Sabah carries on page 4 a 130-word report citing Amirah al-Baldawi, parliament member from the [Iraqi Shiite] Unified Iraqi Coalition, criticizing the Egyptian Foreign Minister’s declarations calling for the rehabilitation of army and police forces on non-sectarian grounds. . .

Al-Mu’tamar runs on the front page a 120-word report saying that Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr has appeared in Karbala after reports that he fled to Iran. . .

Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 230-word report citing Sadr-al-Din al-Qubbanchi [of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq], during the Friday sermon in Al-Najaf, accusing Britain of leading a coup by foiling the political process. . .

Al-Istiqamah carries on the front page a 180-word report saying that Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi met with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other Shiite clerics to discuss the latest political and security developments. . .

Dar al-Salam publishes on page 2 a 170-word report accusing Shiite terrorist militias of attacking Al-A’zamiyah and other Sunni districts and abducting four Sunnis in Al-Hurriyah District of Baghdad. . .

Al-Zaman publishes on page 5 a 1,000-word report citing academics and political observers attributing their refusal to appear on satellite television channels to the deteriorating security situation. . .

Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 270-word report saying that Al-Muqdadiyah’s inhabitants are suffering from the shortage of food materials, unemployment, and the unpaid salaries due to the deteriorating security situation. . .

Al-Muwatin carries on page 2 a 1,000-word report citing a source at the religious authority in Al-Najaf informing Al-Nahrain Net saying that most Shiite clerics are concerned with the US measures against Al-Sadr City and some Shiite clerics. . .

Al-Zaman carries on page 3 a 900-word report entitled “Sabaeans Find Safe Shelter in Kurdistan; Barzani Meets With Hilu To Organize Arrival of Sabaean Families.” . .

Al-Mada on 12 March runs on the front page a 100-word report citing Oil Minister, Hussein Al-Shahristani, announcing in Karbala that there are new negotiations to build a Karbala refinery, which would be the largest and the most modern refinery in the country. He added that the next months would witness the building of this refinery that will be achieved within four years. Its capacity will be 140,000 barrels per day, which is double the capacity of Al-Dura refinery. He asserted that the outcome of the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund resulted in the cancellation of some of Iraq’s debts, depending on an increase in the price of oil products, which will be approximately 50 Iraqi Dinars per litter for kerosene. This price will be fixed until the 1 st of April. . . [Karbala is in a heavily Shiite area, so these projects will benefit Shiites.- JRIC]

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