The Bush Administration has a new one size fits all scapegoat for everything that ails Iraq: Iran.
To listen to the Administration recently, you’d think Iran was solely to blame for US soldiers dying, reconstruction stopping and the Iraqi government faltering. The recent US attacks on Iranian targets in Iraq and accusations leveled at the government in Tehran have members of Congress and foreign policy experts increasingly concerned that the Administration is rushing the US into another war, under false pretenses and blind to the consequences.
“The White House has established a Media Outreach Working Group whose mission is to establish international outrage against Iran,” Colonel Sam Gardiner testified yesterday on Capitol Hill. “We’re seeing a pattern very much like the run up to the invasion of Iraq.”
At a hearing convened by Rep. Barbara Lee, military and foreign policy experts stressed the need for Congress to exert its constitutional check on the White House.
“Congress can play a decisive role to prevent the situation from escalating out of control,” said Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council. “If the President refuses to engage in diplomacy, then perhaps Congress should take on that responsibility.”
A bipartisan group of Congressmen have introduced legislation requiring President Bush to get Congressional approval for any military action against Iran. Barbara Lee has gone one step further, sponsoring a bill that blocks the use of funds for “any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law.”
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 11, Senator Jim Webb asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a simple question: “Is it the position of this administration that it possesses the authority to take unilateral action against Iran, in the absence of a direct threat, without congressional approval?” He received, via the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, what a Webb staffer called an “unacceptable response” that was “unresponsive to the question.”