In the last six months, Americans have been treated to quite a spectacle: famous pundits and politicians hitting the sawdust trail to the mourner's bench to confess, "Had I only known then what I know now, I would never have supported this war in Iraq."
Lots of folks are calling for Donald Rumsfeld's head, but thus far, none of the pundits or politicians has forfeited his roost or declared himself unworthy of further public trust. They have all "moved on."
But it appears today President Bush is considering yet another "preventive war." Weekend reports by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker claim the Pentagon is planning air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities with bunker-buster bombs, possibly tipped with nuclear warheads.
The White House is dismissing it all, and this may be just the rattling of B-2s to concentrate minds in Tehran on the need to negotiate on their nuclear program.
But the Bushites have also painted us into a corner. Vice President Cheney has said Iran will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Sen. John McCain says, "The military option is on the table." And Israel is demanding that the United States stop dithering.
Writes Yaakov Katz in the March 10 Jerusalem Post, "The United States has until now not done enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior Defense Ministry official has told the Jerusalem Post ..."
Katz quotes the senior man: "America needs to get its act together. Until now, the (Bush) administration has just been talking tough, but the time has come for the Americans to begin to take some tough action."
Only one person is quoted by name in Katz's piece, hawkish Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Moreover, we are drifting into confrontation. Russia and China will not support sanctions in the Security Council, and France and Germany are not going to support a preventive war. Nor is Tony Blair likely to play wingman to F-102 pilot George W. Bush again.
Thus, if Iran's nuclear program is to be restricted to peaceful power, America may have to negotiate directly with Tehran. And if Iran's program is so menacing it must be destroyed, the United States will have to go it virtually alone.
Reportedly, U.S. carrier-based aircraft in the Persian Gulf are already simulating bombing runs on Iran. And President Bush has restated his doctrine of pre-emptive strikes and preventive war in the new National Security Strategy released recently.
But this begs a question: As Congress alone has the power to declare war, and has not authorized war on Iran, where does Bush get the authority to threaten war on a nation that has not attacked us?