This afternoon the Kyl-Lieberman Sense of the Senate resolution passed with strong Democratic support. The resolution says that "the United States should designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization...and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists"
Of the Dem Presidential candidates, Hillary voted for the measure, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd opposed it, and Barack Obama missed the vote. On the GOP side, John McCain missed the vote.
The bill's backers had tried to mollify its critics by taking out some of its most incendiary language, particularly the idea that "it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies."
Also removed from the measure was a provision "to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments" in support of the above.
One leading critic, Jim Webb, however, still opposed the bill because it designates the Iran guard a terrorist organization. Nonetheless, it was able to pass overwhelmingly.
It's probably a good thing they took out the language about seeking a diplomatic solution, because this resolution is a warmonger's dream: a clear, unequivocal expression of the administration's burning desire to have war with Iran. It's not legally binding, but it might as well be:
The vote means that the Senate has found it to be "established fact" that most of the weapons being used against U.S. troops by Shiite militias come across the Iranian border under the direction of the leader of Iran's Quods Force. The basis the Senate has heard for this is entirely verbal, based upon reports, supposed evidence and alleged confessions presented by an administration and [its] pet General who have consistently fudged statistics and witheld important facts under a cloak of spurious secrecy - but nonetheless the Senate believes them despite any contrary expert opinions.
Now, Bush simply has to follow the helpful wishes of Congress in designating a uniformed branch of a foreign government's military as a terrorist group, change his mind about diplomacy being the best track and remind Congress that they have already authorized force against terrorist groups -- war on! With not a single thing any of the "yeah" voters today can say to halt it.
The picture is not unrelieved bleakness, though. There is at least one senator who has the capacity to learn from experience (h/t Steve Benen):
The Senate just voted to approve, by a margin of 76-22, the Kyl/Lieberman "Sense of the Senate" amendment on Iran.
Senator Dodd was one of the few voting no, and had this to say of vote:"I cannot support the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on Iran. To do so could give this President a green light to act recklessly and endanger US national security. We learned in the run up to the Iraq war that seemingly nonbinding language passed by this Senate can have profound consequences. We need the president to use robust diplomacy to address concerns with Iran, not the language in this amendment that the president can point to if he decides to draw this country into another disastrous war of choice."
He added:“We shouldn’t repeat our mistakes and enable this President again.”
Kyle Moore reminds us of Jim Webb's warning:
Yesterday, Virginia Senator Jim Webb delivered an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate as to exactly why the Kyl-Lieberman amendment needed to be stricken down.Webb: We are about to vote on something that may fundamentally change the way that the United States views the Iranian military, and we haven’t had one hearing. This is not the way to make foreign policy. It’s not the way to declare war, although this cleverly worded sense of the Congress could be interpreted that way.
Those who regret their vote five years ago to authorize military action in Iraq should think hard before supporting this approach, because in my view, it has the same potential to do harm where many are seeking to do good. The constant turmoil that these sorts of proposals and actions are bringing to the region is counterproductive. They are regrettable substitute for a failure of diplomacy by this Administration.
I do not believe that any serious student of foreign policy could support this amendment as it now exists.
This proposal is Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream. It’s not a prescription for success. At best, it’s a deliberate attempt to divert attention from a failed diplomatic policy. At worst, it could be read as a back door method of gaining congressional validation for action with one hearing or without serious debate.
Cookie Jill gives us the names of the people we should thank:
those who voted no to the lie-berman/kyl amendment.Think Progress links to the "full marked-up amendment."
thank these folks
(mccain and obama didn't vote)
all the others apparently want to go to war with iran.
Because it bears repeating: "The resolution relies almost entirely on recent testimony made by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker (which of course we know was filled with inaccuracies) to support its conclusions."
The paragraphs below were REMOVED:
(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and [stop] the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;
(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies.
This paragraph was added:
“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on September 16, 2007 that “I think that the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge, through diplomatic and economic means is by the preferable approach. That is the one we are using. We always say all options are on the table, but clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one that we are pursuing.”
SecDef AND CentCom don’t want a war with Iran. This is very much NOT the way things were when we got the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started.
Brij Khindaria at The Moderate Voice thinks we are moving toward a new Cold War, one "that may be the turning point in unraveling American leadership of the modern world."