Pat Buchanan

Instead of whining about how Bush "deceived" them and "lied" us into war with Iraq, why is Congress not debating whether Bush has, or does not have, the authority to take us into a new war?

By the way, where is Congress? Off on another vacation, for two weeks, after its exhausting labors in a session that is apparently going to set modern records for brevity.

A war with the United States would be disastrous for Iran. With an air force of antiquated F-4s from the Shah's era and a navy of a handful of destroyers, submarines, and torpedo and missile boats, Iran would quickly be laid open to U.S. air and missile strikes. And with only half of Iran's population of Persian extraction, Arabs, Kurds and Baluchis could exploit a war crisis in Tehran to break the country apart.

But if, in retaliation, Iran ignited the Shia against U.S. forces in Iraq and backed terrorist attacks across the Middle East, the entire U.S. position in the region could be in peril.

As for the price of oil, bet on $200 a barrel. Iranian mines and missile boats may be no match for U.S. fleets, but they could certainly threaten 200,000-ton tankers.

If Bush were bold enough, there are the makings of a strategic deal.

The U.S. goals are exactly what Bush got from Libya's Khadafi: an end to terror and abandonment of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and programs. What Iran wants is a guarantee of its rights under the non-proliferation treaty to develop peaceful atomic power -- from yellowcake to enriched uranium -- an end to their isolation by the United States and U.S. guarantees against attack.

Both nations have an interest in not seeing Iraq disintegrate in a sectarian war that would separate Shia Iran from the Sunni majority in the Arab world.

If President Bush is truly confident that time is on the side of democracy and freedom, what does he have to lose by negotiating a cold peace with the mullahs' Iran, a failed regime that does not dispose of 5 percent of the military or economic power of United States? We outlasted the British Empire, Stalin and Mao. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a bigger problem?

Perhaps, in Churchill's words, it is time for jaw-jaw, not war-war.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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