Acting Unilaterally Against Iran
Now safely back from our week-long vacation in the Big Apple, I will put up a series of short posts on the main page to get myself caught up on what has been happening over the last couple of days.
I noticed this piece in the Times this morning, wherein the White House: 1) admitted that Bush has authorized aggressive actions against Iranians inside Iraq probably without getting the permission of the Iraqis first; and 2) tried to defuse any fears that Bush is goading Iran into a response that would give a casus belli for Cheney to move on to his next war.
A recent series of American raids against Iranians in Iraq was authorized under an order that President Bush decided to issue several months ago to undertake a broad military offensive against Iranian operatives in the country, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
In the interview on Friday, Ms. Rice described the military effort against Iranians in Iraq as a defensive “force protection mission,” but said it was also motivated by concerns that Iran was trying to further destabilize the country.
Mr. Bush’s public warning to Iran was accompanied by the deployment of an additional aircraft carrier off Iran’s coast and advanced Patriot antimissile defense systems in Persian Gulf countries near Iran’s borders. Both the White House and the secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, insisted Friday that the United States was not seeking to goad Iran into conflict, and that it had no intention of taking the battle into Iranian territory. The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, warned reporters away from “an urban legend that’s going around” that Mr. Bush was “trying to prepare the way for war” with Iran or Syria.
Ah, an "urban legend?"
Mr. Gates said that the United States did not intend to engage in hot pursuit of the operatives into Iran.
“We believe that we can interrupt these networks that are providing support, through actions inside the territory of Iraq, that there is no need to attack targets in Iran itself,” Mr. Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I continue to believe what I told you at the confirmation hearing,” he added, referring to last month’s hearings on his nomination, “that any kind of military action inside Iran itself would be a very last resort.”
A last resort for which Joe Biden has put the White House on notice.
Ms. Rice’s comments came just a day after the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, issued a sharp warning to the administration about the recent raids against Iranians in Iraq, including one in Erbil early Thursday.
He said the vote to authorize the president to order the use of force to topple Saddam Hussein was not a vehicle for mounting attacks in Iran, even to pursue cells or networks assisting insurgents or sectarian militias. “I just want the record to show — and I would like to have a legal response from the State Department if they think they have authority to pursue networks or anything else across the border into Iran and Iraq — that will generate a constitutional confrontation here in the Senate, I predict to you,” Mr. Biden said.
Of course, Cheney would welcome such a confrontation, as Biden surely knows.
My question circles back to the issue of whether or not the Bush Administration coordinates these anti-Iranian moves with the al-Maliki government and obtains Iraqi approval for them, or not. Secondly, if the Bush Administration feels that Iran is meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq in an effort to destabilize a new government that is in its infancy under various UN resolutions, then why hasn’t the Bush Administration brought proof of Iran’s actions to the UN for appropriate sanctions and actions by the Security Council?