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Little-Known Congressman Pushes Back on Iran

01.15.2007 14:27 | DISPATCHES

"Oh, they'd never let that happen."

Have you heard that reaction when you've expressed concern that the administration might authorize an attack on Iran? The Democratic Congress, it's assumed, would surely defer to its constituency, which has demonstrated its war weariness. But Iran flies below the radar of a public focused on Iran.

Also laying low on the subject, as John Byrne reports in Raw Story, is much of the Democratic Congress, where "senior aides to leading Democratic members of Congress in both houses have indicated an uncertain approach to resolving the standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions."

But a quick Internet search gives some indication which way top Democrats are leaning on the use of force.

In a Jerusalem Post article entitled "Democrats: Nuclear Iran unacceptable," new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that force is "not an option we want to consider until we know there is no other option." But, he added, "I've not ruled that out."

"The Maryland Democrat," wrote author Hilary Leila Krieger, "said the view is shared by his party, rejecting assertions that the Democrats would be weaker than the Republicans on Iran."

Oh really? Is that how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi feels? In May, 2005 she said in a speech to AIPAC: "The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever." We get it, Nancy -- now and forever. Even if Israel decides to use their tactical nukes, about which the London Times has reported?

What about Hillary Clinton? In a January 2006 speech, she said that "we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran –- that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons."

As for the thoughts of other top Democrats, we actually have to thank.

John Kerry: "[I]'ve said point blank that you leave that option on the table. . ." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 4/9/06)

Joe Biden: "I think the President is going about it the right way." (CNN's "American Morning," 2/1/06)

Evan Bayh: "The Iranians are hardened people. They've made a strategic decision that they want to acquire nuclear weapons. I don't think they will respond to words alone." (ABC's "This Week," 4/16/06)

Christopher Dodd: "I don't disagree that we ought to leave the military option on the table, but I don't think we've been working hard enough on the diplomacy side of this." (FOX's "Fox News Sunday," 4/16/06)

It's obvious that, to these prominent Democrats, Iran is not Iraq. First of all, they seem to be acting on the naive assumption that an attack will only involve bombing. Not only our leaders, but much of the American public, sees bombing as not only risk-free (Iraq), but, at times, benevolent (Kosovo).

More to the point, we'd be redeeming ourselves for attacking a country that had no nukes (Iraq) by bombing one that actually does -- or is trying to develop them. Or is at least a country that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) speaks to in a firm tone of voice.

A couple of other prominent Democrats are on the fence. In April, The Las Vegas Sun reported that Harry Reid said that the U.S. has no military option in Iran. 'We don't have the resources to do it' because of the ongoing war in Iraq." His motives may not be pure, but at least he spoke out. reported that Harry Reid "said the

Meanwhile, Jane Harman is suspicious the administration is cooking intelligence on Iran. "I want to be absolutely sure," she said, "that we base decisions. . . on pristine and pure intelligence, or the closest we can get to that."

Wait, aren't there any Democrats who stand unequivocally against the use of force on Iran? What about Russ Feingold?

Afraid not. He too said, "We must never take any option off the table."

There's one person those of us to whom war is the last, worst option can always count on -- Dennis Kucinich, of course. In September, he wrote a letter to the public, in which he said, "The US must guarantee Iran and the world community that it will not attack Iran."

But are there any other Democratic congresspersons who stand firmly against an attack?

Apparently Joe Biden has changed his tune. When Secretary of State Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after Bush's speech last week, he delivered this message:

". . . if the president concluded he had to invade Iran. . I believe the present authorization granted [him] to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority." In an apparent indication of his sincerity, he added, "I just want to set that marker."

On a more formal basis, it's been left to a low-profile congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), to actually draw up that resolution. Initial signees inlcude Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Sam Farr (D-CA), and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).

According to the National Iranian American Council, the resolution rejects the administration's arguments that the 'Commander in Chief Clause' in the Constitution, as well as the Authorization of Force Resolution authorize military action without Congressional approval.

Whether or not we're concerned about the possibility of tens of thousands Iranians killed, we should heed Scott Ritter's words about oil flow disruptions in his new book, "Target Iran": "Every American businessman who needs to factor in the cost of oil in the bottom line. . . must understand that [in the event of an attack on Iran] they will face almost immediate financial ruin."

 Let's call our congressmen and senators and let them know (and you can use these words) that, "We support Representative Peter DeFazio's resolution that requires the President to seek Congressional approval before initiating military action against Iran."


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