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Senate Resolution to Outsource Iran War Decision to Israel

If you don’t think this is worrisome, you are not thinking!

Ali Gharib in “Senators Press Resolution to Green-Light Israeli Attack on Iran”:

A joint resolution set to be introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Robert Menendez (NJ), a Republican and Democrat, respectively, declares U.S. support for an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear program.

The resolution, which expresses the sense of the Congress, will be supported by the thousands of delegates to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee annual conference that will stream through the Capitol this weekend.

With prominent liberal Democrats already signing on, AIPAC's lobbying heft will likely propel a bill that, in Congressional sentiment at least, commits the U.S. to active support of a potential Israeli attack that experts think could have consequences as grave as further destabilization in the region, adverse global economic consequences, and even a hardening of Iranian resolve to get a weapon.”

According to Gharib, Gary Sick, a Columbia University professor, an Iran expert, and a former White House official declared: "Initiating a war is the gravest step any nation can take. This legislation would effectively entrust that decision to a regional state. Such a decision is an American sovereign responsibility. It cannot be outsourced."

Gharib goes on to write:

Like a previous Graham effort, the new resolution misstates U.S. policy as "to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability" (my emphasis)—phrasing the Senate overwhelmingly approved in another AIPAC-backed measure last September. The "capability" language sets a lower threshold for war than Barack Obama's stated policy to "prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," fullstop—a distinction at the heart of Obama's flap last autumn with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


The JTA's Ron Kampeas reported this week that AIPAC plans to make the resolution one of its "asks," pressed by thousands of delegates as they fan out to Congressional offices during the group's Washington confab. (Called for comment, an AIPAC spokesperson didn't respond by press time.) Now Menendez, a hawk on Iran matters, lent his name to the effort and other prominent Democrats are lining up to support it: a spokesperson for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told Open Zion she planned on signing on as a co-sponsor.

Also from Gharib, Alireza Nader, an Iranian analyst with the RAND Corporation commented:

This could have several negative implications. First, it could be interpreted as endorsing an Israeli preventive strike against Iran, which runs counter to U.S. strategy. The U.S. intelligence community judges that Iran has not made the political decision to create nuclear weapons.

An Iranian nuclear weapons capability is not imminent, hence an Israeli military strike against Iran at this moment is not necessary or justified... could also send the message, not only to Iran, but also the wider international community, including major powers like China and Russia, that the United States is not serious about solving the nuclear issue peacefully.

Stephen M. Walt in “What the Hagel Victory Means” comments on the ever powerful AIPAC lobby:

But the bottom line is that no powerful interest group disappears after a single defeat. Even when a lobby doesn't get its way, it can gain a partial victory by making the winning side pay a price, and by reminding everyone that it can still make trouble. And that was the lobby's real strategy here. They probably knew that Hagel was likely to be confirmed, for the simple reason that he was a well-qualifed candidate whose patriotism was beyond question. Their aim instead was to deter future administration from nominating people who weren't lobby-certified, and to discourage ambitious young foreign policy professionals from doing or saying anything that might put the lobby's crosshairs on them.


One should also remember that Obama has basically been caving in to the lobby ever since 2009, which tells you something about its clout. It's true that he doesn't have to run for reelection again. But most of those Congressmen do, and they aren't going to back him up if he tries to play hardball with Netanyahu. The annual aid package to Israel will be approved like clockwork, which means Obama won't have many levers to use if he needs to push both sides toward a peace deal.


In short, so long as opportunistic rabble-rousers like Ted Cruz [Sen. R-TX] believe that pandering to the lobby is the smart political play, Capitol Hill will remain supine, the executive branch will be constrained, and U.S. Middle East policy will be about as successful as its been for the last couple of decades.

I'm thinking we've advanced beyond the ugly stalemated status quo stage. With this "low-threshold for an Iran war launching by Israel" BIPARTISAN resolution, we may shortly be doomed to a globally dangerous war with Iran.

Most of our U.S. citizenry assuredly does not endorse a war with Iran, despite the chronic drumbeat of propaganda from our corporate media. Neither do most of the citizens of Israel I'm guessing. But the U.S. executive and legislative branches are clearly pimped out to the war-hawks of Israel and their influential lobbyists.

The chance for a war with Iran just skyrocketed!

You might want to give your U.S. senators a call if this resolution concerns you. Here are two toll-free numbers to the Congressional switchboard. 1-866-338-1015, 1-877-210-5351.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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