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Remember when we pilloried John McCain for singing about bombing Iran?

Wouldn't it be a scandal if it turned out that California Senator Barbara Boxer and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden were pushing the same agenda?

I have bad news, I'm afraid. They are.

Senator Boxer and Senator Wyden are original cosponsors of a bill - the "Back Door to Iran War" bill - being promoted by AIPAC that would endorse an Israeli attack on Iran. The bill, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham [shocked!] says that if Israel attacks Iran, then the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically. In other words, if Israel attacks Iran, then the U.S. should join the attack. That would be the opposite of current Obama Administration policy, which is to try to distance the U.S. from any Israeli attack. The effect of the policy being advocated by Boxer and Wyden would be to allow the Israeli Prime Minister - as things stand, Mitt Romney's BFF Benjamin Netanyahu - to decide by himself when to involve the U.S. in a war with Iran.

As Iran policy expert and former White House official Gary Sick says:

"Initiating a war is the gravest step any nation can take. This legislation would effectively entrust that decision to a regional state. Such a decision is an American sovereign responsibility. It cannot be outsourced."
As if that weren't bad enough, the AIPAC/Graham bill would "reiterate" [sic] that U.S. policy is "to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability and to take such action as may be necessary to implement this policy."

But that's not the Obama Administration's policy, and thus the word "reiterate" is a lie. The Obama Administration's policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Not the same thing at all. Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon "capability" - whatever that means - is the policy that Netanyahu and AIPAC have long wanted to the U.S. to have, not the policy that the U.S. does have. If the policy were to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon "capability," then war could be justified at any time, because at any time it could be claimed that Iran is on the "verge" of acquiring a nuclear weapon "capability," since some would say that Iran already has a nuclear weapon "capability" already. And that's a key reason that the Obama Administration has correctly resisted Netanyahu's and AIPAC's demands to make nuclear weapon "capability" a "red line," rather than making the acquisition of a nuclear weapon a "red line."

AIPAC and Graham have jumped the shark, and they're trying to bring Senate Democrats with them. This is not the cautious, bipartisan AIPAC that some people think existed in the past. This is an AIPAC that is promoting a neocon Republican agenda, openly lobbying for war.  

What's particularly disturbing about Boxer and Wyden's support for this bill is that in 2002, they both voted against the Iraq war. At the time, many people who opposed the war saw them as heroes for standing against an unjust war.

But of course, their votes didn't stop the war, because Democratic Senators like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Kerry voted yes for war. At the time, these Senators who voted for war said things like, "I'm not voting for war, I'm voting to give the Bush Administration diplomatic leverage to avoid war." We learned later that at the time, the George W. Bush Administration had been privately committed to war for months, although it was publicly pretending otherwise.

And if you would ask Boxer and Wyden today why they are co-sponsoring pro-war legislation, I don't doubt that they would say things like: "Oh, don't worry your pretty little heads about it, this is just a non-binding resolution, it's not a binding commitment to go to war."

And, in a narrow sense, they would be technically correct. It is a non-binding resolution. It's not a binding commitment to go to war. It's a commitment to a policy that, if adopted, would make war much more likely in the future.  

Why would Boxer and Wyden advocate for a policy that would make war more likely? Just to please their AIPAC contributors? Is that responsible behavior for a Senator? Most Senators have good relations with AIPAC. They're not all original co-sponsors of the "backdoor to war" resolution.

In fact, of the nine Senators who voted no on the Iraq war who are still in the Senate, the other seven are not original co-sponsors of the "backdoor to war" resolution.  The other seven Senators who voted against the Iraq war and are not original co-sponsors of the AIPAC/Graham "backdoor to war" resolution are: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). So it was perfectly possible to say no when AIPAC and Senator Graham came calling looking for original co-sponsors, because these seven Senators said no.

After the Iraq war started in March 2003, some people said to me: look, we had huge protests in February, and they went to war anyway. Protesting didn't do any good. I said to them: I'm very glad you protested in February, but your February protests were too late. The war train had already left the station. We needed your voice six months earlier, before the House and the Senate voted for war. And it would have been even more helpful to have your voice during the Clinton Administration, when the House and the Senate committed themselves to a policy of regime change in Iraq.  

On Tuesday, AIPAC lobbyists will be swarming the Hill, pressing Senators to sign the "backdoor to war" bill. They won't be telling Senators and their staffs what they're really being asked to sign on to. After all, the text of the AIPAC/Graham bill itself tells a lie, by claiming that the U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon "capability," when that is not U.S. policy today.  

If you don't want your Senators to sign the AIPAC/Graham "backdoor to war" bill, you should tell them so now, before they're surrounded by AIPAC lobbyists. Once Senators sign on to something, it's very hard to get them to admit that they were wrong to do so. You can write to your Senators here, and sign a petition here.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

Originally posted to Robert Naiman on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 12:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East and Group W: Resisting War.

Poll

I don't want my Senators to sign the AIPAC-Graham "Backdoor to war" resolution

89%49 votes
10%6 votes

| 55 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Whole lot of Dems supporting it (6+ / 0-)

    I count >10 of them.  "Bipartisanship" at its finest, I guess.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:02:16 PM PST

  •  Funny how they have time to worry about Israel (10+ / 0-)

    when they don't give a damn about the spending cuts impacting Americans at home and when they can't even prevent a Democratic President from supporting cuts to Social Security.  

    Just one more thing I am no longer willing to put up with now that they have embraced the austerity agenda.  

    Sorry, Senators, we can no longer afford to support Israel anymore in any way whatsoever that threatens one American cent because we are not meeting our obligations to Americans.  

    If you want us to support Israel you better go find yourselves some new revenue because I am unwilling to have my Social Security raided for these optional obligations.  

  •  Really, is there anyone inside the Beltway (4+ / 0-)

    who isn't in favor of obliterating Iran and liberating its oil?

    I mean, besides Barbara Lee?

  •  Here're the weasel-words (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, Fire bad tree pretty, Brecht
    Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.
    If that was not in the resolution, I wonder how many would be signing on.

    Essentially, it is an empty gesture.

    And if it isn't, Congress has capitulated its power of warmaking entirely.  The Truman revolution will be complete.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:06:16 PM PST

  •  War with Iran will drive gas prices to $10/gallon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    S F Hippie, Brecht

    IMO.  Or $7/gallon according to others.

    This will destroy the US economy (and others).

    I hope they consider this if nothing else.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:08:31 PM PST

  •  I mean really (6+ / 0-)

    What could possibly go wrong?

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:19:45 PM PST

  •  "Backdoor to war" bill? (0+ / 0-)

    ...and lies (by wordsmithing as usual) to mislead the senators into signing a bill they don't really understand...

    After all, the text of the AIPAC/Graham bill itself tells a lie, by claiming that the U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon "capability," when that is not U.S. policy today.  
    Of course, "capability" does not require hard proof/evidence as the "acquisition" of such weapons would. Iran could already have the level of science (even Pakistan has it) and the scientific minds for such "capacity" while choosing not to "acquire" one. So by AIPAC/Lindsey(the toady) account, the "backdoor to war" can anytime be connected to 'front door,' regardless to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon or not.

    Assholes. Lying, cheating, evil assholes. Blood-thirsty, murderous, greedy, vulgar, cheap ass, low life bastards.

    There; I feel better.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 03:27:51 PM PST

    •  A bill they don't understand? (0+ / 0-)

      WHY don't they understand? They're senators and members of Congress with staffers to go through it all. Why don't they understand? They probably do. The word "reiterate" is most likely for the public. Makes is seem like a done deal.

      The best way to prevent abortions is to arm fetuses.

      by Flyswatterbanjo on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:29:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The coming war with Iran!! (0+ / 0-)

    I've been hearing about that, on this site, since at least 2005 if not earlier.

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:10:10 PM PST

  •  there are people in our government (0+ / 0-)

    who are given a big platform, who act as if US interests = Israeli interests; much lip service is paid to this principle and it is seldom if ever challenged in corporate media. It must be these Senators' turn to fulfill that duty.

    when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

    by bunsk on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:55:40 PM PST

  •  Things must be going really well in the US (4+ / 0-)

    if Senators can focus on the non-existent threat of Iran to the US.

  •  Boxer is progressive on everything (0+ / 0-)

    except the Occupation. On that score, she's a neo-con.
    From alternet:

    The senator [Boxer] has strongly defended Israeli attacks on civilian population centers in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Lebanon and has categorically rejected calls for linking the billions of dollars in U.S. aid to human rights considerations. The senator has attacked reputable human rights organizations and leading international jurists for daring to document war crimes committed by Israeli forces (in addition to those committed by militant Islamists.) The senator has openly challenged the International Court of Justice on the universality of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution attacking the World Court’s landmark 2004 decision. The senator has led the effort in the Senate to undermine President Obama’s efforts to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, insisting that Obama refrain from openly challenging Israel’s right-wing government to suspend its illegal colonization drive. The senator has attacked supporters of nuclear non-proliferation for calling on Israel to join virtually every other country in the world in signing the NPT. The senator has endorsed Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem and expansion of settlements in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, as well as Israel’s construction of a separation barrier deep inside the occupied West Bank to facilitate their annexation into Israel and virtually eliminate the possibility of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. The senator defended Israel’s illegal attack in international waters of a humanitarian aid flotilla, even after a United Nations investigation revealed that five people on board, including a 19-year old U.S. citizen, were murdered execution-style. Indeed, this senator has consistently sided with Israel’s right wing government against those in both the United States and Israel working for peace and human rights.

    I never liked you and I always will.

    by Ray Blake on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 01:14:25 AM PST

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