Where does this leave America? With grave questions, the answers to which should be given not by George Bush alone, but by the American people through their representatives in the Congress.
Lest we forget, it is not President Bush who decides on war or peace. The Congress is entrusted with that power in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers wanted a clear separation between the commander in chief who would fight the war and the legislators who would declare it. They had had their fill of royal wars.
Congress, when this election is over, should return to Washington to conduct hearings on how close Iran is to a nuclear capacity, and place that information before the nation. We do not need any more cherry-picked and stove-piped intelligence to take us to war. But the critical question that needs to be taken up in congressional and public debate is this:
Even if Tehran is seeking a nuclear capacity, should the United States wage war to stop her? Is a nuclear-armed Iran more of an intolerable threat than was a nuclear-armed Stalin or Mao, both of whom America outlasted without war?
Today, Republicans and Democrats are competing in calling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a Hitler who will complete the Holocaust, a terrorist with whom we cannot deal. But the Iran he leads has not started a war since its revolution, 27 years ago, and knows that if it attacked America, it will invite annihilation as a nation.
Bismarck called pre-emptive war committing suicide out of fear of death -- not a bad description of what we did in invading Iraq.
Today, President Bush does not have the constitutional authority to launch pre-emptive war. Congress should remind him of that, and demand that he come to them to make the case and get a declaration of war, before he undertakes yet another war -- on Iran.
Before any air strikes are launched on Iran's nuclear facilities, every American leader should be made to take a public stand for or against war. No more of these "If-only-I-had-known" and "We-were-misled" copouts.