This is a real head-scratcher. After the wringer the Bush Administration has put America through in our Iraq debacle–all the lies, the end-arounds, the waste of treasure and human lives–you’d think Congressional Democrats would’ve learned a lesson. You’d think Congress would be falling all over themselves to prevent another misadventure in Iran. Not so. A group I call the AIPAC Caucus, which routinely does the bidding of AIPAC even if unasked, lobbied Nancy Pelosi hard to remove language from the Iraq military appropriations bill which would’ve compelled Bush to come to Congress for authorization before using force against Iran. I always mistakenly thought one of Congress’ roles was to act as a check on the executive branch when it overstepped its prerogatives. Preventing an Iran military debacle would seem to be a perfect example of the wise use of Congressional power to check Bush.
Reps. Gary Ackerman, Susan Berkley and Eliot Engel didn’t think so according to the neocon publication, the New York Sun:
Two Democratic congressmen…intervened with…Nancy Pelosi to preserve President Bush’s authority to use military force in the gathering showdown with Iran.
The Democratic leadership had introduced language in a $100 billion bill to fund military operations in Iraq. The language would have required Mr. Bush to seek congressional approval before expanding military operations to Iran.
But in the past week, Ms. Pelosi removed the clause after a group of conservative and pro-Israel Democrats threatened to vote against the appropriations package if it included the provision tying the president’s hands.
One of those members, Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, said yesterday he counted between 20 and 27 members who would have voted against the funding measure if it included the Iran language. Rep. Gary Ackerman, another Democrat of New York, said he thinks the dissenters had even more votes.
These statements by Engel and Ackerman represent precisely the type of muddled thinking which tied Democrats up in knots in 2003 when they largely acquiesced to Bush in the vote to approve military action against Saddam:
While I do not support any military action against Iran, I do believe everything needs to be on the table in order for them to calculate that they have to modify their behavior.”
…Mr. Ackerman said he made a political and policy argument in favor of withdrawing the Iran language. “Most people think it would be a bad idea to attack Iran. Those of us who have thought it out, also think it is a bad idea to take it off the table,” he said.
We know how this president operates. If you show weakness and refuse to stand head to head with him when he rattles sabers, he will assuredly take you for everything you’re worth if he needs to. If Bush has any serious thought in his mind of attacking Iran (and you know that he does), this will be considered a green light by him. And after the smoke clears over Iran’s nuclear facilities and Engel and his colleagues start scratching their heads and wondering what just happened, Tony Snow will be telling Fox News that this vote encouraged the president to stand tall against Iran. Then who will you have to blame Messrs Engel and Ackerman??
Did AIPAC specifically lobby for this? They didn’t have to. AIPAC talking points are inscribed inside the brains of the AIPAC Caucus. They know what AIPAC would want without even having to be told:
When asked Aipac’s role, Mr. Engel said, “When I objected no one from Aipac had spoken to me.” Mr. Ackerman yesterday said, “The leadership of Aipac thought the U.S. position would be better served without the Iran language. I don’t know they were lobbying anyone on this though.”
The sole ray of hope is Sen. Jim Webb’s Senate bill which requires legislative approval for military action:
Senator Webb…said he has won backing for his measure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and would likely seek to attach his legislation as an amendment to a spending bill now moving through Congress to fund the Iraq war.”
Let your senators know that you support the Webb amendment. Don’t let the AIPAC Caucus lead us any closer to war with Iran than we already are.
Hat tip to M.J. Rosenberg at TPMCafe.
Spyros Yung says
Further proof that the US is under zionist occupation
samuel burke says
what can one say, the only way to impact government officials here in the states is with a march on washington.
AIPAC is an important member of a coalition of some of the most corrupt forces on the planet. It is a disaster that this mob purports to represent the politics of American Jews.
Ben Martin says
Ideally, this would not be an amendment but a full-fledged bill.
Richard Silverstein says
Ben: Yes, I agree. Let’s put Dems and Repubs. on record as to whether they’re willing to prevent Bush from making mischief in Iran like he made in Iraq. Then, if he does so (God forbid), we’ll hold their feet to the fire & make them explain why they voted against reining Bush in when they had a chance.
Jan Boeykens says
The role of AIPAC:
November 10, 2010 – Speaking from Indonesia, Obama told reporters that he was “concerned” over Israel’s decision to build 1,300 new settlement homes in east Jerusalem, a flashpoint in the ongoing peace process, the AFP reports. According to the news service, Obama told reporters that, “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”
“I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with a sovereign Palestine,” Obama added. He re-affirmed, however, that he would continue working on the peace process, despite its fragility.
November 15, 2010 – ’U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for urging his cabinet to accept a U.S. proposal to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement building for 90 days. Under the plan, Washington would block UN resolutions critical of Israel, and supply Israel with fighter jets worth $3 billion. The US government also promised Israel that after the 90-day moratorium, they would not seek an extension, and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (all of which is illegal under international law) could continue unabated.’