The 'Victorious' War-Time President

Pat Buchanan and I agree on one thing (well, maybe more than one thing), and that is that this administration is preparing for an attack on Iran. In between three hours of back-and-forth about Larry Craig on Saturday morning we discussed where we are in Iraq, where the Congress is (or isn’t) on Iraq and why we both believed that President Bush was preparing Americans for serious air strikes against Iran.

Bush may just be ready to ensure his legacy. What has he got left? He is a true believer that the Iraq war is right and just. He is convinced that his eight-year presidency will be judged by how it turns out. He is convinced that Iran is a serious source of weapons and terrorist activity. He and the neocons have wanted to hit Iran for several years. He is desperate to be the “victorious” war-time president.

The Times of London reported on Sept. 2 that the “Pentagon has a ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran.”  According to the paper, there is a plan for massive air strikes against 1,200 targets. Alexis Debat, who heads up national security for the Nixon Center, told a conference that Bush is not planning “pinprick strikes,” but rather a very serious military action.

Why does Bush believe he can get away with such an action?

He thinks he has the upper hand with the Iraq war. He believes he has quelled the anti-war movement in Congress. He is about to ask for $50 billion more for the war, and there will be other blank checks he sends up to the Hill in the months ahead. He believes the Democrats don’t have the backing or the backbone to challenge further expansion of the war.

Here is what Bush said when he spoke to the American Legion in Las Vegas, courtesy of Pat Buchanan’s blog:

"Iran ... is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. ... Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent and target Israel. ... Iran is sending arms to the Taliban. ... Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes. ... Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. ... We will confront this danger before it is too late."

How has Tehran responded to Bush's virtual ultimatums?

"The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months — despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq. ...

"Iran's leaders cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis."

This is a case for war. Indeed, it's an assertion by President Bush that Iran is colluding in acts of war against the soldiers and Marines and allies of the United States. What does he intend to do? "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities. ... We've conducted operations against Iranian agents supplying lethal munitions to extremist groups."

Bush is telling the world that we are already engaged with Iran, and he is building the case not for negotiations or conversation but for confrontation. He is telling us that attacks against Iran are coming. A year ago, Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker built the case that the Pentagon was under orders to prepare plans against Iran.

In the last month, this administration has announced that it will list Iran’s elite guards as a “terrorist organization,” and it has prepared a report that was just leaked going after Iran for continuing its nuclear program.

Here we go again.

Maybe it is time for Congress to act.

Here is an idea for the Congress that has been blocked by Republicans from doing much of anything to end the war in Iraq:

Pass binding legislation that requires President Bush to get a vote of approval for any expansion of the war into Iran. Simple. If you want to wage war against Iran, or bomb the country, you have to get the approval of Congress first.

Put George Bush on notice that, yes, it is the Congress that has the power to declare war under our Constitution.

Oh, and by the way, we are still waiting for that plan for extricating ourselves from Iraq.

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