Thursday, May 11, 2006

[politics] Under the radar? Or over the rainbow?

In yesterday's letters to Eric Alterman's Altercation comes this (from Thomas Heiden of Stratford, CT):
Lastly, I don't know how many readers caught this, but Secretary of State Rice told a reporter the administration already has all the congressional authorization it would need to attack Iran. Yes, she did say that. When I have thought about how to protest such a policy, I have realized we are likely to awake one morning to discover it has already happened.
No shit!? I read the news fairly carefully, and that slid past me entirely, so I decided to go through the official transcripts of Secretary Rice's remarks. I've read all of May and half of April, and I can't find a statement like that anywhere. What I have noticed (and perhaps this is what the letter referred to) is an article in The Nation by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith. Published on 21 April 2006, and titled "Attack Iran, Ignore the Constitution" (and widely mis-cited around the internet as 'Attack Iran, Destroy the Constitution'), it contains the following:
Bush is calling news reports of plans to attack Iran "wild speculation" and declaring that the United States is on a "diplomatic" track. But asked this week if his options included planning for a nuclear strike, he repeated that "all options are on the table." [...] Bush's top officials openly assert that he can do anything he wants--including attacking another country--on his authority as Commander in Chief. Last October, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee whether the President would circumvent Congressional authorization if the White House chose military action against Iran or Syria. She answered, "I will not say anything that constrains his authority as Commander in Chief."
[emphasis added] And, truth be told, this squares with statements to be found over and over again in the remarks by Secretary Rice that I did read: "All options are on the table", "All options are being considered". "All options" has been famously hashed and rehashed on the internet, so I'm not going to go into it here. Do I think that Rice has openly stated that Bush has all the authority he needs to attack Iran? No - she's not stupid, however much I might disagree with her. But I do think that this Administration's single-minded adherence to an Imperial Presidency model makes this very believable. The President has already stated, through words and deeds, that he is not constrained by Congressional authority with which he disagrees. His approval ratings are heading south - he has nothing to lose by attacking Iran, and might, in fact, benefit from it. The American public has a long history of coming together in times of crisis, of extending the President the benefit of the doubt. This President is alientating his conservative base - he might be able to reclaim some of their loyalty by initiating military action on Iran, standing fast and striking hard against Islamofacism or some such nonsense. From the earliest days of this Administration there have been efforts to make nukes more palatable weapons - I remember reading with some disbelief even before September 11th about the Pentagon's efforts to 'normalize' tactical nuclear weapons - and after 9/11, that tempo increased: if we'd only had these weapons, Tora Bora would never have happened, and the talking heads all nodded seriously with a chorus of yes, that's sensible, but isn't that just a little extreme? Well, came the response, 9/11 changed everything. New weapons for new wars, don't you know. And the bobbleheads went on bobbing, yes, that sounds reasonable, do they have to be nukes? Do they? Oh, they do? Hmmm. We'll have to think about that. We're standing on a scary threshold, if we haven't crossed it already. Like the letter writer, I find it all too likely that I will wake up one morning to find that large chunks of the Iranian countryside have been turned to radioactive slag and ash. The drumbeat has already started, the same pattern is being followed as the lead up to the invasion of Iraq - how do you stop it? After all, it worked so well the first time (for both factions, come to think of it...). I want to believe that I'm just being negative, or overly paranoid. But I just can't help feeling that certain courses of action have already been decided upon - the script has been written, it's just the staging and coreography that remain to be arranged.


Anonymous karen m said...

You're right - it does sound like the buildup to Iraq all over again - minus the WMD hunt.

"All options are on the table"? I'm betting there's only one - just like before. Damn, I'm scared.

5/11/2006 09:59:00 AM  

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