October 01, 2007

Iran: Stepping Back From The Brink?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust-denying, gay-denying* blusterer whose popularity in Iran has been slipping prodigiously due to his failure to bring about the economic gains the public was hoping for when they elected him, has strange powers over seemingly serious Americans. It's true. This Dubyaish figure of a man without the trappings of empire to prevent sniggering and pointing, caused certain members of our political establishment to lose their minds entirely when he visited the United Nations about a week and a half ago.

It's very sad.

And astonishing. Who knew that the tale of Superman was more a prophetic allegory about the future president of Iran? On his home planet In his home country of Krypton Iran, Kal-El Ahmadinejad is merely an ordinary man a civil engineer of some modest political skill who had the great, good fortune to be well known enough to win the presidency when the public was disillusioned with both their outgoing crop of reformers and the establishment retread that was put up against him. Back home, he doesn't even have unusual strength any authority over foreign policy. But here, on planet Earth in America, the rays smell of our yellow sun Freedom Fries gives him super strength, heat vision, incredible speed and heightened senses the power to turn politicians and pundits alike into a great pack of howling lunatics.

The perfect pearl of their violent insanity, coalesced of the copious lip froth of their very craziest neocon carni barkers, was the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. It alarmed me enormously. But did I write about it? No, for my internet access was insufficient, leaving my hapless friends and email contacts to bear the full brunt of my radioactive indignation. Grrr.

While the two most dangerous paragraphs were removed, the amendment still declared as the sense of the Senate that the State Department should declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. The IRG is a branch of the Iranian government, of course, one that has a business portfolio worth $12 billion and doubtless constituting a lot of very soft targets. The Iranian parliament, the majlis if you want to be uppity about it, then turned around and declared their belief that the CIA and US Army were terrorist organizations. Hilarious, all around. And I suppose you might think, well, that's just a lot of name-calling.

Unless you get the sense that perhaps President Bush isn't really the type to ask for a "permission slip" to go pound him some terrorists. Then Seymour Hersh, who's been warning us for years that not only does the administration want to bomb Iran but have been drawing up extensive new plans to do so, tells us that they've got a new plan. To target the 'terrorist' Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which the Iranian government would by definition be 'harboring.' Along with paying for their salaries and office space, because they hired them. As, let me repeat, an official branch of a recognized government.

It's enough to make a woman lose all hope in the salvageability of our democracy.

Sen. Clinton voted for this monstrosity, and then came out with what I agreed was a wholly inadequate statement in the usual paradigm of the Democrats' very own Underpants Gnome philosophy; a course of action undertaken on the premise that it will be followed with "... and then President Bush will be reasonable/obey the law."

Because that always works.

Today, Sen. Clinton took a step towards redeeming that vote, by sponsoring a piece of legislation that I wish would be brought up for a vote on the floor of the Senate and House every working day between now and the day that either the Republicans agree to vote for it or Bush leaves office. The following is from a statement her campaign released by email today. [Links and formatting altered]:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced that she is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) that prohibits the use of funds for military operations against Iran without explicit Congressional authorization (S. 759).

Senator Clinton - who has been at the forefront of calling on President Bush to seek authorization from Congress before taking military action against Iran (Speech on the Senate Floor from February.) - said today, "In February, I took to the Senate floor to warn that President Bush needs Congressional Authorization before attacking Iran. Given recent reports about Administration military planning toward Iran and to ensure that Congress plays a proper role in the authorization of any potential military force, today I have added myself as a co-sponsor of a bill introduced by Senator Jim Webb which prohibits the use of funds for military action in Iran without authorization by Congress."

Senator Clinton added, "Iran has gained expanded influence in Iraq and the region as a result of the Bush Administration's polices which have also rejected diplomacy as a tool for addressing Iranian ambitions. I continue to support and advocate for a policy of entering into talks with Iran, because robust diplomacy is a prerequisite to achieving our aims. I also support strong economic sanctions against Iran, including designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, to improve our leverage with the Iranian regime,"

"Any military action against Iran will have an immediate impact on our troops serving in Iraq, our allies in the region as well as long term U.S. strategic interests. Senator Webb's legislation insures that Congress will play its constitutional role of providing proper oversight over the Administration's policy toward Iran. Congressional oversight and debate can help avoid the mistakes and blunders that have afflicted U.S. policy in Iraq. We cannot allow recent history to repeat itself."

Thank you, Sen. Clinton. If she is the next president, she's plenty smart enough to keep everyone on their toes, at least. I don't approve of her vote and think it was dangerous, but I'm willing to wait and see what she does in the follow up before passing a final judgement. Though if Bush takes the plunge and cites this vote as one of his justifications, well, I think my opinion in that case would be plain enough.

I truly hope that Webb's bill gets some more cosponsors. And passes with veto-proof majorities. (Hah! But seriously, guys, try.) Let's hope that the Democrats get serious about pulling back even the possibility that a trigger-happy administration could take their ill-considered vote as permission to start a war. But for that to happen, a few more of them will have to join up with Webb, forswear Lieberman, and quit waiting for the Underpants Gnomes to find a prophet in the Bush administration.

* Curiously, the Iranian government is perfectly comfortable with transsexuals, even providing government assistance for their operations and carrying out more gender reassignment surgeries than any other country. They've apparently got some very pioneering doctors in the field. The late Ayatollah Khomenei approved a pro-transsexual policy direction shortly after the revolution and it continues to this day.

Posted by natasha at October 1, 2007 07:01 PM | Iran | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

It's all very scarey to me. I don't know what frightens me more, the real possibility that Bush will bomb Iran and think he has the authority to do so along with decent enough justification, or that the fringe right can't wipe the spittle off their computer screens fast enough as they blog about how great bombing Iran will be.

I'm getting tired of wingnuts telling me Iranians are not civilized. It's part of the dehumanization process, similar to the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

I don't understand how people can hate human beings so much, some 76 million of them, whom they've never met, that they want to bomb them to death.

I don't get it at all.

Posted by: PoliShifter at October 1, 2007 07:50 PM

BlackwaterUSA chairman to appear in front of committee

Posted by: ccoaler at October 2, 2007 01:16 AM

BlackwaterUSA chairman to appear in front of committee

Posted by: ccoaler at October 2, 2007 01:17 AM

It truly is a frightening situation. What you state about Ahmadinejad is correct. If we, the U.S., give Iran some room to breath politically, he would be unlikely to maintain his position for long. A more moderate force could prevail in Iran. However, it appears that the goal of the Bush Administration is to provoke an incident with Iran. The reasons are far ranging; furthering the neo-con agenda, diverting attention from Iraq and the failed war on terrorism, continued incompetence in not understanding the region. The repercussions of potential actions against Iran are apparently being ignored, but they are vast. A retaliation in Iraq, against Israel or our other interests in the region is real, not to mention a strike being supported here at home in some form. I don't know if the Hersh reports have any validity, but any provocative action against Iran would be foolish and without merit.

Posted by: Scott at October 2, 2007 05:37 AM