I Wish This Were A Joke 

If there’s one thing the last five years have shown us, it is that the Bush administration cannot be left alone to conduct foreign policy without oversight.  Poll after poll shows the silent American majority knows Bush’s war in Iraq has been a disaster for U. S. interests.  Bush justfied his war on premeditated lies, and he has lost the confidence of the American people.

Now he wants to drive Americans over the cliff by possibly waging preemptive nuclear strikes in the most unstable part of the world against a country ten years away from possessing nuclear weapons.  That’s not just crazy:  it’s a suicidal.

We are calling on all Americans, Republicans and Democrats, to tell their congressmen and senators the following three things:

  1. Starting a nuclear war against Iran is seriously nuts.

  2. Strength comes from leadership.  We must join our allies in tough, direct negotiations with Iran.

  3. Americans must unite to demand bipartisan opposition to preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran.

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has it right:  a nuclear attack on Iran is nuts.  This is not even controversial.  The defense policy establishment knows this, which is why Pentagon insiders leaked Bush’s operational plans to Sy Hersh for his article in The New Yorker.  So why is the Bush administration planning preemptive nuclear war?

Here’s what Digby had to say in an email:

We have a  conundrum. Iran with a nuclear bomb has the potential of being catastrophic.  The US taking out the Iranian nuclear program militarily is also potentially catastrophic.  Clearly, we need to do everything in our power to avoid both. The problem is that  I don’t believe that the Bush administration agrees with that assessment. Their perception of national security is a simplistic belief that the rest of the world thinks we are too chickenshit to fight, so we must prove to them that they are wrong. Every threat or "threat" must be met with  a hard, aggressive show of power or we will never be taken seriously. Negotiating is nothing more than appeasement.  
 
Seeing as Iran is now sabre rattling,  the invasions and occupations of two of its neighbors over the past five years have not proven enough.  Therefore, we have to up the ante — nukes.  I think we can all see where this leads.
Nuking Iran will not just incite the Middle East against us for the rest of our lifetimes.  The whole world will turn against us.  China.  Everyone.  World War III.  Terrorism will continue its post 2001 increase.  Oil will go to $200 per barrel, destroying our economy.  Many of us will starve as food grows scarce.  Most of us – the educated and the unskilled alike – will lose our jobs.  Foreign nations will sell U. S. dollars and invest in Euros.  We will lose international trade, and our national debt holders will band together to neutralize us.  Nuking Iran would quite simply be the end of America.  Do you trust the people who brought you the Iraq War to handle matters with Iran without oversight?
 
During the Cold War, we did not categorically eschew a preemptive nuclear strike, because if we saw the USSR firing up its nukes, we reserved the right to strike preemptively in self defense.  But the current Bush policy is not contemplated in self defense.  Iran is ten years away from the ability to develop weapons grade uranium.  It possesses no nukes today.  This is a situation fundamentally unlike any we faced during the cold war with the USSR.  All Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, should stand shoulder to shoulder to demand that plans for preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran be scrapped. 
 
Some mistakenly say, "No option should be taken off the table."  Republicans and Democrats won’t all agree on the advisability of conventional attacks against Iran, depending on the circumstances, but regarding preemptive nuclear strikes, there should be no disagreement. 
 
Iran is willing to engage in direct negotiations with the U. S.  Our allies lack the leverage to induce concessions without our participation in direct talks.  And yet, we refuse to talk to Iran.  What is the point of threatening use of force when we offer Iran no alternative course of action, other than confrontation?
 
Bush and Cheney are playing suicide pact politics in a gutless, insane attempt to save their plummeting poll numbers among some members of the Republican base going into the November elections.  They want to look strong because they are weak:  that makes them dangerous.  They love their power more than they love America.  Democrats, Independents and responsible Republicans should join together to demand that nuclear preemption against Iran be taken off the table.
 
It’s time for Congress to provide real oversight.  There is no reason to believe Bush is bluffing, since he has offered no negotiated way back from confrontation to Iran’s leaders (who frankly also face weakness at home and are at least in part colluding in this suicide pact for internal political gain).  Bush is too filled with grandiose messianic delusion to engage in sane "strategery."

We’re asking everyone to contact their federal representatives today.  If you can, go to their offices in person.  Shower your local papers with letters to the editor.

It’s time – right now – to restore America for Americans.  It’s time for sane leadership on Iran. . . before it’s too late.

UPDATE:  Two things.  First, I personally agree that any conventional preemptive strike against Iran is nuts, especially when you consider the uncanny ability of this administration to fuck up boiling water while scalding everyone in the house.  This approach, however, is designed to carve out an area that should merit widespread support while propelling a political dynamic of responsible oversight by Congress.  Furthermore, I can appreciate in theory a case for posturing about the possibility of conventional strikes if it were coupled with a genuine engagement in negotiations, pursued to promote effective bargaining.  I’m not saying I support that approach, but I can understand how others would.

Second, I am aware of the complexities of estimating the time lines associated with developing weapons grade nuclear material. The estimate I cite in the text comes from the consensus of U. S. intelligence agencies from last August, and it has generally been butressed by other international assessments.  The argument of this post does not rest on an absolute acceptance of the "ten years" estimate.  It does rest on the fact that virtually all estimates we have available by people who did not lie to us about Iraq’s prewar capabilities estimate the  timeline to be a matter of years, not months.  That means we have time to pursue a sane policy.  The central argument here is for a check on an unreliable president with an established track record of failure, crafted to appeal to the majority of Americans who recognize war in Iraq was a bad idea.