An Ominous Bill: Oops, they did it again? Attacking Iran & H. Res 362

A few days after millions of Americans celebrate with fireworks the day we declared our independence from Britain, a new congressional resolution will likely be introduced to the floor for a vote that may be the first step towards a fireworks display of a different form above Iran.

Sorry to be a party pooper. But is it possible that Congress has learned nothing from the Bush Administration's disastrous decision to go to war with Iraq?

By passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution in 2002 the Congress (perhaps unintentionally, for some) gave the Bush administration enough leverage to carry out a pre-planned war with a misleading premise. And look at where we are now.

The non-binding resolution, H. Res 362, requires a stop on all shipments of refined petroleum products from reaching Iran. It “demands” that President Bush impose "stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran.”

Yes, this includes the Strait of Hormuz where a tense confrontation with Iran almost led to an order by a Navy commander to fire on one of five small armed Iranian speedboats threatening the American ship.

The Senate's sister resolution, S. Res 580, was introduced by Senator Evan Bayh on June, and already has 26 cosponsors.

The same day, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee held its annual policy conference, which included thousands of members traveling to Capitol Hill to push for tougher measures against Iran. After the bill was introduced AIPAC released a memo echoing almost every point mentioned by the bill.

The bill cites a series of reasons for its passing:

- Iran using its banking system to assist terrorist groups and Iran's support for Hezbollah, Hamas and Shi'a militant groups and Afghan warlords.

- It alleges Iranian training, weapons, and financing are going to militants attacking American and allied forces.

- And of course it mentions Syria, and cites Iran as "further destabilizing the Middle East by underwriting a massive rearmament campaign by Syria."

As far as attacking nuclear facilities in Muslim nations...Israel has already conducted an airstrike to wipe out an alleged Syrian nuclear facility. So the precedent has in fact already been taken.

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David Keefe, The Denver Post

Some argue that the language and rhetorical style of the bill constitutes an international sanction that will serve as an embargo. An embargo which would (most likely) need military force to implement.

Military force...again?

In a vacuum, a reading of this bill would call for panic and alarm, but what makes it all the more serious is the series of aggressive antics exchanged between Israel, the U.S. and Iran that include threats to destroy a nation from one side and the promise of an attack from the other.

So is Congress going to go through and push through a bill that will be easily seen by many as a bold step towards war with Iran?

What about the United Nations? Wouldn't they have to agree before Iran is attacked or war declared? (Yes, technically - but of course that isn't addressed in the bill).

Israel has just conducted a military exercise by sending warplanes in the Mediterranean.

Israel Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said the "If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it."

Iran has announced it intends to continue enriching uranium.

U.S. officials have refused to take the threat of military action off the table.

An Iranian general then warned that any aggressor of Iran would return home with artificial legs.

'If you dare to come towards Iran, you will bring artificial legs and sticks with you because you will definitely have no legs when you return home,' said General Mohammad Hejazi, deputy commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards.

Some speculate this is all just "tough talk" but unfortunately it is only a matter of time before someone may be prompted to put their money (or "might") where their mouth is.

Less than a year ago on a CPSAN segment, Barbara Slavin is quoted as saying that if the U.S. attacks Iran "the price of Oil would go over $100 a barrel". Check. We are over 140. She also says, "we'd be paying 4 or 5 dollars a gallon for gas." Check. We are already paying over 4 dollars a gallon steadily and it is set to continue rising.

The last thing she says would happen is, "The Shiite Populations all around the region would rise up...and we may also find something we've never seen before - Iran backed terrorism within the U.S."

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About Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin grew up in California, Kuwait, Egypt and Austria. He has most recently worked as a news producer for The New York Times and as a web producer for the PBS international documentary series, Wide Angle. His work has been featured in Frontline/World online, TimeOut, Washington Week and other blogs. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he know teaches a new media skills class. In 2008 Ahmed won a Webby award for a multimedia project called Defining Middle Ground: The Next Generation of Muslim New Yorkers. It can be seen here: www.definingmiddleground.com His portfolio website can be seen at: www.ahmedeldin.com His family is originally from Palestine

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