Pat Buchanan: Graham's plan for starting a war with Iran
This summer produced a triumph of American patriotism.
A grassroots coalition arose to demand Congress veto any war on Syria. Congress got the message and was ready to vote no to war, when President Obama seized upon Vladimir Putin's offer to work together to disarm Syria of chemical weapons.
The war America did not want did not come. Lindsey Graham is determined that this does not happen again. The next war he and his collaborators are planning, the big one, the war on Iran, will not be blocked the same way.
He plans to introduce a use-of-force resolution, a peacetime declaration of war on Iran, to ensure Obama need not come back to Congress — and can attack Iran at will. Lindsey intends a preemptive surrender of Congress' constitutional war-making power — to Obama. He wants to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran, then stampede Obama into starting the war.
On Fox's "Huckabee" Sunday, Lindsey laid out his scheme:
"I'm going to get a bipartisan coalition together. We're going to put together a use-of-force resolution, allowing our country to use military force ... to stop the Iranian nuclear program. ... I'm going to need your help, Mike, and the help of Americans and friends of Israel."
In July, Graham told a cheering conference of Christians United for Israel: "If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb."
That Graham is braying that he intends to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran is not all bad news. For he thus concedes Obama does not now have the authority to attack Iran. And by equating Iran's "nuclear program" with a "nuclear bomb" program, Graham reveals that his bottom line is not Obama's bottom line, but Benjamin Netanyahu's. Obama has said only that Iran must not be allowed to build a bomb. Bibi says Iran must not have a nuclear program.
Yet, make no mistake. The goal of Graham, the neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia is not a negotiated solution permitting a peaceful nuclear program in Iran. The goal is a U.S. war to smash Iran. On Nov. 10, 2010, Graham let it all out: "Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. ... (We must) destroy the ability of the regime to strike back."
Graham wants us to do to Iran what President Bush II did to Iraq. But there are obstacles in our warlord's path.
First, there is no conclusive proof Iran has decided to build a bomb.
Twice, the U.S. intelligence community, in 2007 and 2011, has asserted with high confidence that Iran has made no such decision. Senators who do not seek a new war with Iran should call James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, to testify publicly as to whether Iran is "racing" toward a bomb. Or is this the usual War Party propaganda?
As of today, Iran has not tested a bomb and, to our knowledge, does not possess any uranium enriched to the 90 percent necessary to build a bomb. Indeed, Iran has just announced that half its supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium has been converted to fuel rods.
Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was elected on a pledge to get U.S. sanctions lifted and to end Iran's isolation. But to accomplish this, he must prove that Iran has no active bomb program and that he is willing to allow intrusive inspections to prove it. As a first step to negotiations, Rouhani just appointed the most pro-American foreign minister in four decades.
Moreover, Iran, victim of the worst poison gas attack since Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, launched by Saddam Hussein with U.S. knowledge, has condemned any Syrian use of chemical weapons and signed the agreement banning them as well the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Ayatollah has issued a fatwa against an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Often, the interests of adversaries coincide. In World War II, with Hitler as the enemy, the monster Stalin becomes an ally. Putin wants no U.S. war on Syria or Iran. This requires no chemical weapons use in Syria and no nukes in Iran. This coincides with U.S. interests, if not Lindsey Graham's.
That Vladimir Putin is going to Tehran, and Obama to the U.N. to meet Rouhani is good news. Better news would be that Congressional anti-interventionists were meeting Graham's war resolution with one of their own, reaffirming that, as of today, Obama has no authority to launch any preemptive or presidential war on Iran.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"