The essential and not surprising reality of 2008: The Republicans are desperate for a national security threat to rally their base. How else to explain McCain’s uber-adviser/ lobbyist/ Charlie Black’s “slip” about how a terrorist attack will help his candidate’s failing fortunes.

Now we have Sy Hersh, the reporter who has done more, singlehandedly, to expose the Administration’s drive to war–with Iran–than any congressional committee.

Last December, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) found that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Barack Obama claimed that the NIE’s findings vindicated his calls for greater engagement with Iran. “By reporting that Iran halted its nuclear weapon development program four years ago because of international pressure, the new National Intelligence Estimate makes a compelling case for less saber-rattling and more direct diplomacy.” Then Presidential candidate John Edwards used the strongest language: “The new National Intelligence Estimate shows that George Bush and Dick Cheney’s rush to war with Iran is, in fact, a rush to war.”

Defiant when confronted by fact-based reporting, Bush stated: ” I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program. The reason why it’s a warning signal is they could restart it.”

Fast forward. The Bush-Cheney machine has ousted military men like Admiral William Fallon — whose open and outspoken resistance to the idea of war with Iran gave voice to others in the Pentagon. “Another war is just not where we want to go,” Fallon told the FInancial Times a few weeks before he “resigned.” The resistance to military action seems to be shared by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But as the neocon/Cheney camp vents over the decision to de-list North Korea from the terrorism blacklist, that same faction seems even more determined to stoke the Iran fear machine.

These hardliners are endangering the very people they claim to be supporting. Consider the testimony of Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace prizewinning lawyer and dissident who has warned that US support for regime change and US covert funding of Iranian dissidents taints them as foreign proxies undercutting their legitimacy in their own country and endangering their lives.

Congress must reassert its role: Review the 1982 Boland Amendment. Shut down any preemptive military act –covert or overt– without the consent of Congress.

If that seems a weak reed, given the spinelessness of too many members of congress, and the gullibility of the mainstream media, consider that the rising price of oil is already threatening the world’s economy –and military action will almost certainly push oil to $200 a barrel. Consider that we are already bogged down in two wars, stretched thin militarily, and spending $12 billion a month in Iraq. Isn’t it time to talk about relying on non-military means to resolve political problems?