Friday, August 31, 2007

If Dems Give Inches on Iraq, GOP May Take Miles--Into Tehran

There is nothing I would love better than to wake up in the morning and have nice things to say about the Democratic Leadership. I mean that--really, I do. I would love to read the news, read the blogs, and give a congratulatory pat on the back those we progressives worked so hard to elect and represent the interests of justice, fairness, and the reality-based community

But I can't. I find myself once again astounded at the cowardice and/or cluelessness (take your pick) of the Democratic leadership and their braindead messaging teams.

As I write this, two extremely important and confluent events are occurring side-by-side in real time. On the one hand, both Durbin and Reid appear set to cower before lame-duck president George Bush and his soon-to-be-shrinking Republican minority in Congress and grant them an additional $200 billion on top of the $120 billion of the People's Money already appropriated for the Iraq fiasco. On the other, serious rumors are abounding from various sources that there is a coordinated effort about to be pushed for an attack on Iran after Labor Day--which is, as Andy Card reminded us, when new products like a new war are to be launched.

That the Democratic Leadership does not understand or pretends not to understand the close connection between these two events is both astonishing as a political observer and infuriating as a progresive American. One need not believe that the supplemental money will be directly used an assault on Iran--though Gates' surprise at hearing about the extra $50 billion is extremely disturbing--to understand that the Bush Administration's success in getting its way on Iraq will be directly proportional to Dick Cheney's success in staging a successful push for an attack on Iran.

It's very simple: if Democrats bow to Bush now continuing our Occupation of Iraq and running roughshod over the will of both the American and Iraqi people even in the face of unequivocal poll numbers and insurmountable evidence of failure, corruption, incompetence and treachery, there will be no way for us to oppose Cheney on the much murkier and less obvious question of Iran. If Democratic foreign policy is to be waged on the basis of fear of Republican accusations of "weakness" on an issue as clear and easy as Iraq, how much more difficult will it be to break that pattern when it comes to deciding how to proceed in Iran? As long as the Democrats refuse to use the power of the purse or challenge/overtun the 2002 AUMF when it comes to Iraq, how will they propose to do when it comes to Iran? With impeachment "off the table", what hope can we have of even distracting, much less threatening or stopping, Dick Cheney from his own stated goals?

The Democratic Leadership believes that it can continue to give the Bush everything it wants on Iraq while pretending to stand its ground enough to keep Democratic voters motivated. The Democratic Leadership believes that it cannot safely politically achieve a change in Iraq policy until George Bush leaves office. The Democratic Leadership believes that if it does nothing to stop the Occupation until 2009, the election will be about Republican failures--whereas, if the Democrats do step up to the plate, the election will be about Democrats stabbing our soldiers in the back. The Democratic Leadership does not understand that more is at stake in Iraq than just Iraq--and that failure to stand up on Iraq will have disastrous consequences that their apparently small minds still do not understand.

Unlike many in the progresive blogs, I have not stood up and screamed that the sky is falling every time rumors came along of a war with Iran. I was skeptical when Sy Hersh was claiming an imminent attack back in 2006, and my skepticism proved to have been well-founded. Now, however, there is more reason for concern about a strike on Iran than ever before--the primary being that a cornered animal has no choice left but to attack. Beyond the recent rumors and the stationing of carriers at strategic points in gulf, the circumstantial reasons for suspecting an imminent attack are numerous:
  • The "surge" is failing--and will continue to fail whether or not the Administration receives the supplementals it is requesting. The need to blame an external enemy for this failure will only grow stronger over time.

  • The economy is teetering on the brink of a collapsing asset bubble in the midst of a credit crunch, and the heroic efforts on the part of the Fed and major banking institutions to stem the tide of worried investors will only last so long. There is nothing like a new war to stimulate an economy and take the minds of American people off of economic uncertainty.

  • Republican hopes for 2008 are in a tailspin. Now that God, Guns and Gays don't quite have the same effect that they used to, the GOP is turning to increasingly desperate dirty tricks to attempt to maintain power. With Independents, Hispanics and Young Voters--three of most rapidly growing demographic segments in America--moving steadily away from the GOP, they will need to do something drastic to attempt to scare the American people into somehow voting for them again. There is nothing to do that like an exciting new war against a supposedly dangerous new enemy.

  • Nearly every Republican candidate refused to rule out pre-emptively using nuclear weapons on Iran to prevent Ahmadinejad from getting his hands on nuclear weapons. More than an astonishing deficit of irony, it was a clear indicator of where the Republican Brand stands on the issue of attacking Iran: sooner rather than later, and as forcefully as possible

  • The Religious Right is all but completely deflated in the wake of the scandals surrounding Foley, Vitter, Craig, Gannon, and the like. Larry Flynt supposedly has his hands on 30 others as well, whose names he will be leaking in a slow-drip fashion. Without a strong turnout from the Religious Right, the GOP doesn't stand a chance. Given the current state of things, the only thing that could motivate the Christianists at this point is another all-out crusading war against a Muslim nation.

Even if all of these pieces of direct evidence, rumors and circumstantial fears about an Iran attack turn out to be little more than hot air, it must be conceded that given what we know now, the danger of a last-ditch Republican assault on Iran cannot be discounted by any rational observer.

Give the GOP its inch on Iraq, and it will take a mile--quite possibly into Tehran. By allowing Bush to do what he wants on Iraq, the Democratic Leadership believes it is giving the GOP the rope with which to hang itself, at the expense of the lives a few thousand more U.S. soldiers and countless more Iraqis. That is a not only an immoral gamble, but a foolish one: for the rope that the Dems give the GOP will not be used to hang just the GOP, but rather will be used to hang all of us in one way or another.

The time for courage is now--before it is too late.

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