While the Democratic leadership competes with George Bush to see who
can be tougher on Iran, it would be comforting to think that the more progressive
Democratic base had learned a bit more from the invasion of Iraq than the leadership.
Would that that were true. Unfortunately...
Yesterday I read Kevin
Drum's Washington Monthly article, which starts by disclosing this rather
Contrary to conventional wisdom, which suggests that Iran's research sites
are too widespread to be destroyed via bombing, [Gen. Wesley] Clark believes
that a military strike on Iran could wipe out its nuclear program very effectively
indeed. He figures that a 14-day bombing campaign plus a few special-ops missions
-- which he described in some detail -- would pretty much put them out of
business. What's more, he also seems to believe that an operation like this
is very much under active consideration within the White House and the Pentagon.
Drum then sums up the situation:
It does suggest that Democrats ought to figure out now what they think about
Iran. After all, we've got the Ken Pollack book, we've got the referral to
the Security Council, we've got the slam dunk intelligence, and we've got
the lunatic leader screaming insults at the United States. Remember what happened
the last time all the stars aligned like that?
Believe it or not, I believe that Drum's assertion of "slam dunk intelligence"
is something he isn't even questioning (certainly if he did he should have put
it in quotes like I just did). And the "lunatic leader screaming insults
at the United States"? Aside from the "lunatic" charge, which
has about as much intellectual weight as comparing someone to Hitler, I must
have missed where Saddam Hussein (or Ahmadinejad for that matter) was "screaming
insults at the United States" before the U.S. decided to invade his country.
But all of this is prelude to the point of this post. Drum closes his post
by asking his readers this:
So: What would be the Democratic response if (a) Bush asked for an authorization
of force against Iran or (b) simply launched an assault without asking Congress?
And here is the scary part. Out of 51 responses, far too many of them are
gung-ho for bombing Iran. The right of Iran to develop nuclear power,
or even nuclear weapons? Didn't come up. The lack of a right of the U.S. to
decide unilaterally (or even multilaterally) that they have the right to bomb
Iran under these circumstances? Didn't come up. Even the "easier"
position of learning from history that the Bush administration (and all recent
administrations) will lie through its teeth to start a war is only mentioned
by a few; those opposed are far more concerned with the "practical"
problems of such an act.
And Washington Monthly readers are not alone. Over at Daily
Kos, another bastion of progressive Democrats, a poll accompanying an article
on Iran has 24% voting for "force" to "take out" Iran's
nuclear facilities, and another 21% for sanctions. Together that's not a majority,
and it certainly does put the readers of Daily Kos ahead of the Democratic leadership,
but it's definitely not encouraging, and indicates that there would be little
if any domestic political "price" if the U.S. bombed Iran.
Hands off Iran!