For us, there is an alternative to the catastrophe which President Bush and his regent, Dick Cheney, are preparing, in the ratchet up towards war with Iran.
We could rise up as a nation and demand that our elected representatives pass a Boland-type amendment banning any use of the military in Iraq. We could demand that a resolution be passed revoking the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. We could demand the revocation of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force which the president has improperly cited as giving him extra-Constitutional powers. And we could demand that Congress tell the president and vice president that if they attack Iran without explicit congressional authorization they will both be immediately impeached.
The votes are clearly there for such an action, but the courage to call the president’s hand and lay down the cards is not. And so the march to disaster continues.
The cynicism of the administration is beyond belief. We have the supposedly “straight talking” defense secretary telling Congress that there is no plan “at the moment” to attack Iran—even as he sends two aircraft carrier battle groups into the Persian Gulf and stockpiles Patriot anti-missile batteries in the region (of what use are carriers and anti-missile rockets in a counter-insurgency in Iraq?). We have the president authorizing an illegal and clearly provocative attack on an Iranian consulate in Iraq, and violating international law by arresting six people in that raid.
Let’s be clear. An attack on Iran, which poses no immediate or imminent threat to the United States, would be the most heinous of international war crimes—a “crime against peace” violating the UN Charter and the Nuremburg Charter. It would also be a strategic disaster that would dwarf even the president’s collossal strategic blunder in invading Iraq.
There are no more troops left to fight in Iran, so all the U.S. could hope to do would be to bomb that country. But bombing that country would do nothing to stop Iran from retaliating in myriad ways that could bring the U.S. to its knees.
Iran has plenty of options to hurt the US. The Shia militias in Iraq, which have largely ignored U.S. forces unless harassed, are tight with the Iranians, having received shelter and support from Iran during Hussein’s rule, and sharing, as they do, a common religion. If Iran comes under attack, it is hard to believe that the Iraqi militias will not turn their substantial firepower on outnumbered US forces in Iraq.
When you think of it, attacking Iran would be a wonderful way of doing what the U.S. claims it has been wanting to do for several years now: uniting the Sunni and Shia forces in Iraq and ending their fratricidal conflict.
And then there’s the economic costs of an Iran War. Here Iran really has to do nothing, though it could make things all the worse by using one of its high-tech anti-ship missiles to sink an American naval vessel or even just a civilian tanker in the gulf. Even without such an action, an invasion of Iran would lead to a shutdown of oil coming from the Persian Gulf. That’s one quarter of all the oil supplies in the world. Even if Iran never fires a missile, the insurance industry will make it impossible for any ship-owner to sail into the gulf.
So forget $80/barrel oil. Crude oil would quickly soar past $100 a barrel, past $160 a barrel, probably. Some analysts have even talked of $200 a barrel. No matter—after $100 a barrel, the world economy would grind to a halt. And the American trade deficit would go through the roof. We’re not talking slowdown here,; we’re talking global depression.
All this is clear. But it is also clear that the Congress doesn’t have the guts and principle to halt this march to madness.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His collection of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment”,co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: email@example.com