Who Is to Blame for America's Disturbing Iran Policy?




  • In Business
  • 2019-05-26 09:30:36Z
  • By National Review
 

Difficulties with Iran will recur regularly, like the oscillations of a sine wave, and the recent crisis - if such it was, or is - illustrates persistent U.S. intellectual and institutional failures, starting with this: The Trump administration's assumption, and that of many in Congress, is that if the president wants to wage war against a nation almost the size of Mexico (and almost four times larger than Iraq) and with 83 million people (more than double that of Iraq), there is no constitutional hindrance to him acting unilaterally.

In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was pressed in a Senate hearing to pledge that the administration would not regard the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against al-Qaeda and other non-state actors responsible for 9/11 as authorization, 18 years later, for war against Iran. Pompeo laconically said he would "prefer to just leave that to lawyers." Many conservatives who preen as "originalists" when construing all the Constitution's provisions other than the one pertaining to war powers are unimpressed by the Framers' intention that Congress should be involved in initiating military force in situations other than repelling sudden attacks.

The Economist, which is measured in its judgments and sympathetic to America, tartly referred to the supposed evidence of Iran's intentions to attack U.S. forces, allies, or "interests" as "suspiciously unspecific." Such skepticism, foreign and domestic, reflects 16-year-old memories of certitudes about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: Remember Secretary of State Colin Powell spending days at the CIA receiving assurances about the evidence. There also are concerns about the impetuosity of a commander in chief who vows that military conflict would mean "the official end" of Iran, whatever that means.

U.S. policy makes easing economic sanctions against Iran contingent on Iran doing twelve things, most of which (e.g., halting development of ballistic missiles, withdrawing from Syria, ending support for allied groups) it almost certainly will not do. This U.S. policy is congruent with U.S. disregard of this truth: Any nation, however prostrate, poor, or ramshackle, that ardently wants nuclear weapons can acquire them. Just four years after Hiroshima, the Soviet Union, which had been laid to waste by World War II, became a nuclear power. China was an impoverished peasant society in 1964 when it detonated a nuclear weapon. Pakistan's per capita income was $470 in 1998 when it joined the nuclear club. In the more than a decade since North Korea acquired nuclear weapons, U.S. policy has pronounced this "unacceptable." But U.S. behavior has been to accept it while unfurling the tattered flag of arms control - hoping to talk North Korea into giving up what it has devoted three decades to developing.

Fifteen years ago, Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush's national-security adviser, said that an abstraction (the "international community") would not "allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon." Allow? In 2012, President Obama said: "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." If - probably when - that policy fails, we shall have a policy of containment, or a major war.

Trump's national-security apparatus might include a plucky cohort of regime changers who, undaunted by 18 discouraging years (Afghanistan, Iraq), cling to the fatal conceit that U.S. policies, such as sanctions, can manipulate the internal dynamics of societies such as Iran's. In any case, today's president is, in one respect, like his predecessor: Obama denied that hundreds of U.S. air strikes that killed hundreds in Libya and helped to destroy a regime constituted involvement in "hostilities."

Trump recently vetoed a congressional resolution that would have terminated U.S. involvement with Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war in Yemen, by the terms of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. It forbids the "introduction" of U.S. forces into "hostilities" for more than 90 days without congressional authorization. It defines "introduction" to include the assignment of U.S. military "to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the . . . military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged . . . in hostilities."

VIEW SLIDESHOW: USS Abraham Lincoln

The U.S. military is providing intelligence, logistical support, and, for a time, occasional in-flight refueling of Saudi bombers. This certainly constitutes involvement in the commanding, coordinating, and movement of military forces. This is similarly certain: Whatever the U.S. does to Iran militarily will be decided unilaterally by this president. But his predecessor, and today's Congress and previous Congresses, will be implicated in the absence of restraint by laws or norms.

© 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

COMMENTS

More Related News

Floyd killing shows
Floyd killing shows 'true face' of US: Iran's Khamenei
  • World
  • 2020-06-03 10:50:55Z

The police killing of unarmed African-American George Floyd shows the "true face" of the United States and its oppression of the peoples of the world, including its own, Iran's supreme leader said Wednesday. "The fact that a policeman has cold-bloodedly pressed his knee on the throat of a black man until he died and that other policemen watched on without doing anything is nothing knew," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech. "It is the normal course of action of the United States, it's the truce face of their regime," Khamenei said.

New Russian policy allows use of atomic weapons against non-nuclear strike
New Russian policy allows use of atomic weapons against non-nuclear strike
  • World
  • 2020-06-02 15:53:40Z

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday endorsed Russia's nuclear deterrent policy, which allows him to use atomic weapons in response to a conventional strike targeting the nation's critical government and military infrastructure.

Iran says scientist jailed in US flying home
Iran says scientist jailed in US flying home
  • World
  • 2020-06-02 11:45:16Z

Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari has flown out of the United States after being released from prison and will return to the Islamic republic on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said. A US court had in November cleared Asgari of charges of stealing trade secrets in 2016 while he was on an academic visit to Ohio from Tehran's Sharif University of Technology. The 59-year-old told British newspaper The Guardian in March that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was holding him at a Louisiana detention centre without basic sanitation and refusing to let him return to Iran despite his exoneration.

Pompeo: U.S. Could Make Moves Against International Criminal Court In "Coming Days"
Pompeo: U.S. Could Make Moves Against International Criminal Court In "Coming Days"

"I think that the ICC and the world will see that we are determined to prevent having Americans and our friends and allies in Israel and elsewhere hauled in by this corrupt ICC."

Pompeo says U.S. considering welcoming Hong Kong people, entrepreneurs
Pompeo says U.S. considering welcoming Hong Kong people, entrepreneurs

The United States is considering the option of welcoming people from Hong Kong in response to China's push to impose national security legislation in the former British colony, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in remarks released on Monday. Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute on Friday, Pompeo gave no details about immigration quotas or visas, and merely said: "We are taking a look at it." President Donald Trump on Friday ordered his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, but stopped short of immediately ending privileges that have helped the territory remain a global financial center.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Business