While Senate hawks are pushing a resolution that some have interpreted as “creeping toward an authorization of military force against Iran,” lawmakers in the House are starting a campaign to promote a diplomatic solution to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Walter Jones (R-NC) are asking House members to sign on to a letter urging Presidnet Obama not to start a war with Iran.
In an impassioned speech on the House floor yesterday, Ellison quoted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan, and retired General Anthony Zinni all warning of the consequences of attacking Iran. “It would be unwise for the United States to enter into a new war just as we’re ending two others,” he said:
If you listen to the rhetoric around Washington and the Nation, Mr. Speaker, it is literally impossible to not hear the drumbeat of war with Iran. The rhetoric in Washington about the military strike against Iran leads me to think that we may be sliding into a new war yet. … [W]henever you speak against a war, your patriotism is challenged and your courage is challenged until they find out that you were right. [...]
But the heated rhetoric we hear around our city and the events on the world stage are deeply troubling, Mr. Speaker. News headlines read, “The Coming Attack on Iran.” Pundits discuss the possibility with shocking casualness, and I am alarmed by this.
America, we have seen this movie before, and, Mr. Speaker, it doesn’t end well. Two months after leaving Iraq, we have already forgotten the consequences of war it appears. If you need a reminder, talk to a veteran or a veteran’s widow.
Watch the speech:
As Ellison noted in his speech, Iran with nuclear weapons threatens regional security and international nonproliferation norms. But the Minnesota congressman is right. The drumbeat for war with Iran is getting louder and longer, particularly on Capitol Hill and out on the GOP presidential campaign trail.
But, just like the prelude to war in Iraq, it’s also made its way into the mainstream media. “Haven’t we seen this movie before?” the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone asks in a story today. “It sure feels like 2002 for anyone who was around then and is now scanning newspaper headlines or watching TV talking-heads discuss a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities — an act which could pull the U.S. into another thorny Middle East military conflict.”
While the IAEA has expressed serious concern about military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during Senate testimony yesterday repeated his position that Iran has not yet decided whether to develop a nuclear weapon. (HT: Lara Friedman)