We all know that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve contained a now-struck-down provision to authorise the indefinite detention of American citizens on US soil.
But did you know that the NDAA also paves the way for war with Iran?
From Dennis Kucinich:
Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment.
This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible.
At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.
The Former Chief of Staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell has stated that this resolution “reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war.”
The notion of a “nuclear weapons capability” seems like a dangerously low standard. Let us not forget that Mossad, the CIA and the IAEA agree that Iran does not have a bomb, is not building one and has no plans to build one.
But the bill clearly spells out its intent:
SEC. 1222. UNITED STATES MILITARY PREPAREDNESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
Section 2 (A) pre-positioning sufficient supplies of aircraft, munitions, fuel, and other materials for both air- and sea-based missions at key forward locations in the Middle East and Indian Ocean;
(B) maintaining sufficient naval assets in the region necessary to signal United States resolve and to bolster United States capabilities to launch a sustained sea and air campaign against a range of Iranian nuclear and military targets, to protect seaborne shipping, and to deny Iranian retaliation against United States interests in the region;
(D) conducting naval fleet exercises similar to the United States Fifth Fleet’s major exercise in the region in March 2007 to demonstrate ability to keep the Strait of Hormuz open and to counter the use of anti-ship missiles and swarming high-speed boats.
As Kucinich notes:
This is an authorization for the use of military force against Iran. It ignores the warnings of both current and former U.S. top military brass who have spoken in opposition to the use of military force against Iran, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. A February 2012 poll demonstrated that less than 20% of the Israeli public supports an Israeli strike on Iran if approved by the United States. Congress must avoid the same mistakes it made in the Iraq war and reject any language that can be construed as authorizing war against Iran.
It seems like the framers of the bill are exceptionally keen on striking Iran as quickly as possible. Maybe they are receiving lots of money from defence contractors?
Unsurprisingly, the biggest Congressional recipient of donations from defence contractors was Howard “Buck” McKeon, the chairman of the armed services committee who also happens to be the sponsor of the NDAA:
The fact that Ron Paul is the number two recipient is a sign that not all defence contractors are keen to hit Iran. But some are.
Still, even though the bill hints very strongly toward it, it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen. Congressmen might be hungry for a war but the military — already overstretched — isn’t. Admiral Fallon was reportedly the force that kept Bush from hitting Iran, and it would not be surprising to see the Pentagon put up fierce opposition to a future war with Iran. It would be a long, expensive war, with the potential of massive negative side-effects, like dragging in other regional powers, disrupting global trade, and squeezing the US economy by spiking the oil price.