Cheney Says Dems Can't Stop Bush's War With Iran
Seymour Hersh has a new report about how the Bush Team plan to prevent Congress from interfering with any actions Bush wants to take against Iran, even if this action violates legislation passed by Democrats to prevent funding of regime change in Iran. Does anyone remember Iran-Contra scandal?
"The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting "shorteners" on the wire--that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put "shorteners" on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way."
Bush Team is not concerned that the Democrats would cut funding for the Iraq war but that the Democrats might enact legislation that would prohibit the US from funding operations to overthrow or destabilize Iran:
"They're afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a hit on Iran, à la Nicaragua in the Contra war," a former senior intelligence official told me.
Seymour Hersh explains that in 1982, Democratic Rep. Boland drafted legislation to limit Pres. Reagan's ability to fund Contras to overthrow Nicaragua's government. These Boland restrictions resulted in White House officials conducting "illegal fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons, via Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties."
The White House does not intend to let any Boland-type law enacted today by Democrats hamstring whatever plans the Bush Team has for Iran:
"Cheney's story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a Democratic Congress might do next year to limit the President's authority, the Administration would find a way to work around it."
Consistent with Bush's history of shifting rationales for the Iraq war, there are indications that the Bush Team may spin military or other actions against Iran as the way to win the Iraq war.
The government consultant told me, "More and more people see the weakening of Iran as the only way to save Iraq."
The consultant added that, for some advocates of military action, "the goal in Iran is not regime change but a strike that will send a signal that America still can accomplish its goals. Even if it does not destroy Iran's nuclear network, there are many who think that thirty-six hours of bombing is the only way to remind the Iranians of the very high cost of going forward with the bomb--and of supporting Moqtada al-Sadr and his pro-Iran element in Iraq." (Sadr, who commands a Shiite militia, has religious ties to Iran.)
However, Iran may view any such US attack against it as actually enhancing the government's position domestically and in the region:
There are, however, other possible reasons for Iran's obstinacy. The nuclear program--peaceful or not--is a source of great national pride, and President Ahmadinejad's support for it has helped to propel him to enormous popularity. (Saddam Hussein created confusion for years, inside and outside his country, about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in part to project an image of strength.) According to the former senior intelligence official, the C.I.A.'s assessment suggested that Iran might even see some benefits in a limited military strike--especially one that did not succeed in fully destroying its nuclear program--in that an attack might enhance its position in the Islamic world. "They learned that in the Iraqi experience, and relearned it in southern Lebanon," the former senior official said. In both cases, a more powerful military force had trouble achieving its military or political goals; in Lebanon, Israel's war against Hezbollah did not destroy the group's entire arsenal of rockets, and increased the popularity of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
As for the US status, an attack against Iran could unite Sunni and Shiite populations and the Arab world against the US, essentially creating the caliphate that Bush has asserted is the goal of the Islamic extremists:
The former senior intelligence official added that the C.I.A. assessment raised the possibility that an American attack on Iran could end up serving as a rallying point to unite Sunni and Shiite populations. "An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we'll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us--and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It's an analyst's worst nightmare--for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East." (An Islamic caliphate ruled the Middle East for over six hundred years, until the thirteenth century.)
While the Iraq Study Group with Baker is preparing a report on options to fix the Iraq war, Rummy asked for alternative plans to be "quietly" prepared to "preëmpt new proposals, whether they come from the new Democratic majority or from the Iraq Study Group."
When asked to comment about this article, the Bush Team offered their usual non-denial denial. Cheney's office did not have a "record" of the discussion and the White House and Pentagon only stated that there were "unspecified inaccuracies." The White House later told AFP that Hersh is "once again he is creating a story to satisfy his own radical views."
As always, Seymour Hersh wrote an article full of information. Please take a look.
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