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March 10, 2007

Act Now To Stop War With Iran

One good thing about this site's collapse is it happened right when I was working on something else: an article about what actions Congress can take to prevent war with Iran.

The most powerful thing Congress could do would be to forbid Bush from spending any money on an Iran attack. The next most powerful would be simply to forbid Bush from doing it (but with no mention of a funding prohibition). And the best strategy with either would be to attach them to the current emergency supplemental military spending bill, because that would make it difficult for Bush to veto it.

I'm very pleased to say James Webb is now sponsoring a funding cutoff amendment in the Senate. You should write to your senators about this RIGHT NOW. (More background from Robert Naiman here.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is apparently trying to put language forbidding an Iran attack into the House version of the supplemental bill. More about that (and the "pro"-Israel opposition to it) here.

I'll be writing a lot more about this here soon. The article will hopefully be done and online within a week.

Posted at March 10, 2007 10:54 AM | TrackBack

Welcome back.

Even those of us who don't want another war, making it law not to go to war with one specific country seems doomed to failure. What is it--a non-aggression pact with ourselves? Would it be OK to go to war with, oh, Belgium? (Old sentimental favorite.) What if the situation changes in the ME and Iran does something aggressively vile? Change the law and then Johnny goes marching in? I don't see how this sort of "war management" can work. Would we need to make a list--countries we can war-war with, others, not? How about a "The Mouse That Roared" scenario? Too much of this is comic--and very sad--sad because we have an ignorant, stupid and vicious gang running the country.

Posted by: donescobar at March 10, 2007 12:38 PM

Donescobar: They could still go ahead and run special ops and other acts of war, but they'll be breaking the law. And unfortunately the law is the only weapon Congress wields. We the people possess more powerful tools, it's just that tax strikes, secessions and the creation of alternate governments can be so darn dangerous.

Posted by: hedgehog at March 10, 2007 12:46 PM

Hedgehog: Secession and/or an alternate government sound good. How do you go about establishing an alternate government? Could it be by creating better marketing: You've seen what they've done, now try Government XYZ? Like--there was Coke, but then Pepsi comes along? Let the people choose? Free markets and free governments, so to speak?
I like it, but how?

Posted by: donescobar at March 10, 2007 01:10 PM

"The war might be over ..."
What alternate universe did this thought come from? You need allies to win a war and sentience to end one. The war with Iran will be called Clusterfuck II: Electric boogaloo.

Posted by: the bunny at March 10, 2007 01:51 PM

"to make the political cost to Bush of starting a war as high as possible..."

Yes. But how can we go beyond that:

to make the cost of starting certain wars as high as possible to our whole political/economic system

The next cog, after Bush, will still serve the system. There were no "lessons" learned from Vietnam. (Well, hardly any.) Why expect that a society, given to as little critical introspection as possible, will learn them from Iraq?

Posted by: donescobar at March 10, 2007 01:57 PM

WE are on our own. NO calvalry is riding to the rescue, but as TAXPAYERS, WE ARE more numerous than the Administration, the Iraqis, and the Iranians combined. And WE OWN more WEALTH than ALL three combined. AND ALL THE MILITARY IS ONE OF US.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 10, 2007 08:26 PM

He stated, "my signing this resolution does not constitute any change in ... the President's constitutional authority to use force to deter, prevent, or respond to aggression or other threats to U.S. interests..."

And that's exactly the wording they will use when Bush issues a signing statement to any bill saying he can not attack Iran. If he decides to attack, it is gonna happen in spite of Congress.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at March 10, 2007 09:24 PM
"Mr. President I would like to emphasize that this bill will not take any military options off of the table. Nor will it tie the hands of the Administration if our military forces are actually attacked from Iranian soil or territorial waters, or by forces that retreat into Iranian territory. Nor does this legislation let Iran off the hook in terms of our insistence that Iran become a more responsible nation, including our positions regarding Iran's nuclear program and Iran's recognition of Israel's right to exist.

In short, it leaves as much weasel room as the weasel decides to take.

Posted by: Scruggs at March 11, 2007 12:52 AM

In short, it leaves as much weasel room as the weasel decides to take.

Yes. But the fact is that if Bush were willing to pay the highest political cost -- i.e., impeachment -- there may simply be no law Congress could pass that would stop him. Before the executive branch can act, it does have to have some piece of paper saying that what it's doing is legal. But that piece of paper comes from the executive branch itself: the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. If the OLC refused to give Bush the ruling he wanted, he could fire them and replace them with people who *would* do it. And the war would begin.

Later there could be court cases, impeachment, etc. But that would be all be after the fact.

That's why I say it's purely a political question. Webb's amendment, if passed, would likely do as much to stop war with Iran as a bill with no loopholes at all.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 11, 2007 11:10 AM

In theory, yes, it does get votes and does put a political whatsit in motion. In practice, given the track record, it solidifies a good bit of the off the deep end consensus, not to mention legitimizing some batshit crazy narratives -- e.g. "Iran poses a threat", the invasion of Iraq was "poorly managed", "proceduraly illegitimate" etc . . . It's like refusing to budge from the step on an escalator.

Posted by: Scruggs at March 11, 2007 03:59 PM

Suit yourself, Scruggs. I'd rather Congress went on record in defense of their war powers before the attack on Iran than not.

Posted by: Nell at March 11, 2007 04:48 PM