Middle East

No-Iran Pledge Off the Table

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The AP reports via Cincy Enquirer that the Dems are having trouble with crafting a resolution telling the president he needs new authority to attack Iran. Why? Partly because such a statement might alternately alienate or embolden…Israel:

The Iran-related proposal stemmed from a desire to make sure Bush did not launch an attack without going to Congress for approval, but drew opposition from numerous members of the rank and file in a series of closed-door sessions last week.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview that there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.

"It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran," she said of the now-abandoned provision.

"I didn't think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you're trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.

Several officials said there was widespread opposition to the proposal at a closed-door meeting last week of conservative and moderate Democrats, who said they feared tying the hands of the administration when dealing with an unpredictable and potentially hostile regime in Tehran.

So the Dems have scrapped an Iran authorization line from a supplemental spending bill that, as or press time, gives money to the troops in Iraq and sets a withdrawal date of September 1, 2008. 

More here.

Certainly part of the congressional calculations re: Iran is what Israel might do on its own if they think the U.S. is going limp in that neck of the world. Which only adds to the quagmire feel of it all.

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  1. Actually, this stuff that the Democrats keep proposing sounds more like a quagmire preservation act.

    Something that seems to be ignored above is that there is no way for the Executive branch to launch an attack of any kind on Iran without the Senior leadership of the Congress knowing about it in advance. What they are doing is blowing a lot of political smoke.

    A reminder for some readers: “Seven Days in May” was fiction written by Rod Serling. Quite good fiction, but still fiction.

  2. Um, requiring the President to seek permission isn’t taking the military option off the table. It’s just ensuring that the options on the table will only be exercised with the consent of a co-equal branch of government.

    In an earlier generation that wouldn’t have been controversial.

  3. In an earlier generation, only Congress could declare war.

    off topic–who is this “tros”, and why has he been allowed to destroy a prior thread with pages and pages of drug-induced nonsense?

  4. Seems to me like the US should have a little more influence over Israel than it does. What is going on?

  5. In an earlier generation, only Congress could declare war.

    Earlier generations, like the one of Jefferson, knew the difference between a declairation of war and the Executive’s use of military force as Commander in Chief.

    Or were you talking about generations before Jefferson?

  6. Seems to me like the US should have a little more influence over Israel than it does. What is going on?

    I think it is in the book The Protocols of the Elders of The New Republic, from what some of the anti-Israel folks on the interwebs say about theit publisher 🙂

  7. I think it is in the book The Protocols of the Elders of The New Republic, from what some of the anti-Israel folks on the interwebs say about theit publisher 🙂

    Golly!

  8. Just when are the Dems going to grow some cajones? Their stance on Iraq/Iran, etc. reminds me so much of tricky Dick’s line on Vietnam, “peace with honor.” And just how long did it take to leave Vietnam after he said that?

  9. seems to me that the us should have a little more influence over egypt than it does, eh?

    i suspect that the pressure comes more from consideration of the various sunni arab states than anything else. after all, saudi and the gulf sheikdoms have oil and the jews don’t. and the touted jewish lobby is pretty toothless since the jewish vote and contributions are as safely in the dems’ pockets as the puerto ricans or blacks.

  10. Guy Montag,

    Those differences being? Besides the “repel attack” power what other fairly exclusive power of military force does the executive posssess?

    ___________________________________

    Anyway, this is an example of one of the classic problems associated with allies. Their needs, potential actions, etc. can start to hamper your room for manuevre.

  11. Those differences being?

    Like that the Congress can declare all the wars they want and the CINC does not have to move a single troop in support of it.

    The CINC can engage troops in battle whenever he or she likes and the Congressional counter to that is fiscal, or impeachment.

    Ref: pretty much every administration that has engaged in battle, to include FDR who ‘unilaterally’ dsclared open warfare on German craft at sea on September 11, 1941 without so much as a by-your-leave to the Congress.

  12. …and the touted jewish lobby is pretty toothless since the jewish vote and contributions are as safely in the dems’ pockets…

    Which explains why the Bush administration has refused to stand by Israel whatsoever these past 6 some years.

    /sarcasm

  13. Anyway, this is an example of one of the classic problems associated with allies. Their needs, potential actions, etc. can start to hamper your room for manuevre.

    Who was it that said that the US should avoid entangling alliances?

  14. Guy Montag,

    Like that the Congress can declare all the wars they want and the CINC does not have to move a single troop in support of it.

    That would likely be impeachable offense.

    The CINC can engage troops in battle whenever he or she likes and the Congressional counter to that is fiscal, or impeachment.

    That’s simply not the case, as the quasi-War with France fully illustrates. The Congress has the power to regulate the area of the conflict as well as the means by which it is pursued.

  15. Grotius,

    I have already given examples that refute your gross assertions.

    Also, you capitalize france as if it is a real country.

    QED

    (Drink!)

  16. Guy Montag,

    In other words, if the Congress wanted to grant the executive branch (in a non repel attack situation) merely the power to engage in a naval war it can do that.

  17. Guy Montag,

    No, you provided one example, not examples.

    And I’m not talking about historical gloss here. I am discussing what the actual powers of the Congress as was understood in 1789. That understanding is best illustrated by the actions of the Congress re: the quasi-War with France.

  18. I already said QED.

    Infinity.

  19. Guy Montag,

    Folks who are familiar with the debate of where the war powers lie in the American government are also aware of the Congress’ actions re: France in 1798.

  20. Which explains why the Bush administration has refused to stand by Israel whatsoever these past 6 some years.

    no, it just shows that one thing has nothing to do with the other. bush lost the jewish vote badly, twice.

    the great edna predicts that the rep in the next presidential election will lose the jewish vote, too.

  21. The Real Bill,

    Well, one could argue that we live in a different world – part of that world includes the very large presence of the U.S. in world affairs. In some ways were are the empire that Hamilton dreamed of.

  22. Grotius / Guy,

    I suspect a major difference between the situation in 1789 and now is that there was no standing army in 1789. If the president wanted to engage in land warfare on foreign soil, he’d have to get Congress to raise an army first.

  23. Does that September 1 date have any strategic basis, or is it predicated entirely on making sure that a hypothetical Democrat taking office after the 2008 elections won’t have to take any responsibility for Iraq?

  24. Which explains why the Bush administration has refused to stand by Israel whatsoever these past 6 some years.

    Yeah, we totally let them down when they were bombing Lebanon back to the First Crusade over a kidnapped soldier.

  25. crimethink,

    Well, the whole point of a two year time window for appropriations for the army (not the navy) was to dissuade the Congress from maintaining a standing army. A general consensus at the time was that armies were dangers to liberty, whereas a navy couldn’t be used as a means to intimidate a domestic population.

  26. no, it just shows that one thing has nothing to do with the other. bush lost the jewish vote badly, twice.

    The mystery deepens, then. Are you saying that “what Israel might do on its own if they think the U.S. is going limp in that neck of the world” is not really an important “part of the congressional calculations re: Iran.”

    Trying to make sense of your posts, great edna, are you arguing that deep down what the Democrats are really worried about is that Sunni Arab states will somehow withdraw or price up their oil if the US stops the sabre-rattling with Iran?

    That doesn’t sound too convincing to me.

  27. Does that September 1 date have any strategic basis, or is it predicated entirely on making sure that a hypothetical Democrat taking office after the 2008 elections won’t have to take any responsibility for Iraq?

    Most certianly the latter and they are doing nothing to hide that fact from anybody, other than not overtly stating it.

  28. edna – hard to argue with that, although it appears the Bush admin has made strides. Viz:

    Jewish vote / US / Jewish vote as % of US
    1992
    Bush (R) 11% / 43% / 25
    Clinton (D) 80% / 38% / 212
    Perot (I) 9% / 19% / 47

    1996
    Dole (R) 16% / 41% / 32
    Clinton (D) 78% / 50% / 188
    Perot (I) 3% / 9% / 35

    2000
    Bush (R) 19% / 48% / 39
    Gore (D) 79% / 49% / 162
    Nader (G) 1% / 3% / 36

    2004*
    Bush (R) 24% / 51% / 47
    Kerry (D) 76% / 49% / 156

    percentages are of the popular vote.
    sources:

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/jewvote.html
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781450.html

  29. The great thing about money, as opposed to votes, is that you can give it to both major parties at the same time. Then it doesn’t matter so much who wins.

  30. Another great thing about money, rather than votes, is that the number of individuals you have in your camp is less of a limiting factor on the size of your influnce.

  31. “I didn’t think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you’re trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.
    =============================================
    Israel? They haven’t treated me or my family in a civilized way since, like, ever.

  32. Anyway, whatever the Congress does re: this authorization issue doesn’t matter much. The U.S. isn’t in any position to attack Iran today or in the foreseeable future.

  33. The President doesn’t have the authority to go to war with Iran absent them declaring war against us or actually attacking us. Congress needs to declare war under the Constitution. If the authorizations for use of force in Afghanistan or Iraq are claimed to provide authority to move into Iran, then the remedy is to rescind such resolution(s). The House needs to pass H413 by a veto-proof margin and the Senate needs to pass a similar bill. Do it now.

  34. Come on, Congress gave the president the authority to use all proper and necessary force to bring the people behind the 9/11 attacks to justice, and that’s all he needs. While the Iraqis and Iranians may not have technically been involved in those attacks, they are cut from the same cloth, and that means that our leader has to do his job to protect the homeland. If the peaceniks in Congress are too weak-kneed to understand that, so be it.

  35. Well, one could argue that we live in a different world – part of that world includes the very large presence of the U.S. in world affairs.

    That’s obvious, but why is the large presence necessary? It’s not, but neither are many things. The U.S. filled a power vacuum after WWII (which it helped to create), but it doesn’t have to do as much as it does. I think that, on average, Americans like being top dog. Who doesn’t?

    In some ways were are the empire that Hamilton dreamed of.

    True enough, but Hamilton and Washington were two different people. I like both, but I would pray to Washington if I belonged to a religion that does such things.

  36. The Real Bill,

    Basically since WWII the power vacuum that the U.S. fills has been slowly but surely filled by other actors. In the 1950s when France, the UK and Israel attacked Egypt the U.S. basically stopped these actions with a few phone calls. We longer possess that sort of power.

  37. Grotius,

    Maybe so, but isn’t our military in more countries than ever before? We have about 1000 overseas military bases and outposts. It’s true that Western European nations are no longer our bitches like they used to be, but I think we’ve made up that deficit with other countries.

  38. Seems to me like the US should have a little more influence over Israel than it does.

    Why? The reality is that Israel has a much stronger economy, weapons industry, and military superiority over its neighbors than it did in 1973. The dirty little secret is that Israel doesn’t really need the U.S. anymore, and I suspect they would be likely to act opposite our wishes if they believed it to be in their interest. Arguably, they already did that in Lebanon. None of the usual anti-Israel suspects (France, Russia) will do anything other than hurl invective should Israel act. In fact, none of them are probably capable of doing anything else, as they have little power-projection capability.

    Israel has a lot to worry about from a nuclear-armed Iran–much more than the USA does. They would be well-advised to prevent such a thing from coming to pass.

  39. Why? The reality is that Israel has a much stronger economy, weapons industry, and military superiority over its neighbors than it did in 1973. The dirty little secret is that Israel doesn’t really need the U.S. anymore, and I suspect they would be likely to act opposite our wishes if they believed it to be in their interest. Arguably, they already did that in Lebanon. None of the usual anti-Israel suspects (France, Russia) will do anything other than hurl invective should Israel act. In fact, none of them are probably capable of doing anything else, as they have little power-projection capability.

    Israel was created by the UN and, by the same token, it can be destroyed by the UN. If the United States withdrew support for Israel at the UN, the, I would think, that the invective would get pretty serious.

    Failing that, the US could do to Israel what we did to Iraq in the Gulf War.

    Failing that, there are still other options.

    The US has plenty of ways to influence Israel should they ever dare act against the best interests of the United States.

  40. Israel? They haven’t treated me or my family in a civilized way since, like, ever.

    You don’t say.

  41. Iran is what Israel might do on its own if they think the U.S. is going limp in that neck of the world.

    Not sure if Lee Seigel would be on board with this phrasing 🙂

  42. No surprise that the Dems have gone wobbly. Annoying Israel is bad politics.

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