The way they're talking about Iran in Washington these days bears a spooky resemblance to the Iraq war buildup -- similar missteps, similar players, similar bipartisan congressional negligence. Washington is haunted by the mistakes of the past and seems bound to repeat them, spurred on by the fantasies of the neocons and their enablers.
Jon Sawyer comments in the LA Times about this skeleton in our collective closet.
An embattled president, a Congress distracted by a sex scandal, looming midterm elections — and yet overwhelming agreement, with scant debate or publicity, on fateful legislation that set the nation on a path to war.Remember the Office of Special Plans, the neocons' little spookshop in the Pentagon responsible for massing Iraq intelligence? They're baaaaaaack! But now they have a different name and have focused their attention on Iran.
It happened eight autumns ago, when three-quarters of the House of Representatives and every single senator voted for regime change in Iraq.
Has it happened again, on Iran?
Four weeks ago, Congress enacted and President Bush signed the Iran Freedom Support Act, a resolution very much in the spirit of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. It mandates sanctions against any country aiding Iran's nuclear programs, even those to which that country is legally entitled under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The congressional action isn't the only sign of déjà vu. Recent months have seen the creation of an "Iran directorate" at the Pentagon, using some of the same personnel as the Office of Special Plans, the shadowy Pentagon outfit led by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith that was accused of massaging raw intelligence on Iraq to make the case for war look far more solid than in fact it was.The most haunting parallel is the political one.
But at a time when a majority of Americans have turned against the Iraq war, when Bush's long advantage on national security issues is under fire and when Democrats dream of wresting control of not just the House of Representatives but the Senate too, the most extraordinary parallel to the pre-Iraq-war environment is that so many Democrats have given the administration a vote on Iran that amounts to yet another blank-check endorsement of U.S. unilateralism — even as diplomats struggle in New York to craft a multilateral approach to Iran.Don't hold your breath.
Smart politics? Most Republicans and most Democrats appear to believe that it is — that it's a good idea to take Iran off the table, to make sure it doesn't figure as an issue in the Nov. 7 elections. It's reminiscent of the decision many of them made before the midterms in 1998 and again in 2002, when the bipartisan vote authorizing use of force against Iraq made the looming war almost a nonissue in that year's midterm elections.
Maybe this time, on Iran, someone will yet decide that it's worth taking the debate to the people.