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Sunday, September 30, 2007


The meaning of Lieberman-Kyl

There's been a lot written about the Lieberman-Kyl amendment that passed the Senate the other day 76-22, with Hillary Clinton voting for it and Barack Obama shamefully absenting himself from the vote. Most of the attention has been on its designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization" and the implications that has for the possibility of a war against Iran (since the Senate has already given its approval for a "war on terror"). Amazingly, some Democrats are even bragging about how sections 3 and 4 were excised from the amendment before its passage:
(3) 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;

(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;
But these deletions, while some kind of improvement, still don't detract from what the amendment accomplished in giving an imprimatur to war against Iran. Consider point 2 for example, which remains:
(2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;
After all, if this is our "vital national interest," then whatever it takes to defend that "national interest" is surely acceptable.

So, even as amended, there can be no doubt that this amendment was a strong endorsement by the Senate, including half of the Democrats, for war against Iran. But actually, the reason I'm writing here is to call attention to the one section of the amendment which has been pretty much overlooked - section 1:

(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;
What does that mean to you? I tell you what it means to me - that the Senate has just endorsed not just war against Iran, but an indefinite presence in Iraq, now justified as preventing Iran from "posing a threat to the security of the region."

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