High among the blunders of history was the "blank cheque" Kaiser Wilhelm gave Vienna, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to deal with the Serbs as they saw fit.
Five weeks later, Vienna cashed the check and declared war, after Belgrade refused to submit to all 10 demands of an ultimatum. Russia mobilized; Germany and France followed. And war came, the bloodiest in all of European history with 9 million soldiers in their graves.
Since June 1914, a "blank check" given by one nation to another for war has been regarded as strategic folly.
Thus it is startling to learn 47 House Republicans just signed on to H.R. 1553 declaring unequivocal "support for Israel's right to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by Iran ... including the use of military force."
These Republicans have just given Tel Aviv a blank check for a pre-emptive war that Israel, unless it uses its nuclear weapons, can start but not finish. Fighting and finishing that war would fall to the armed forces of the United States.
Who do these Republicans represent?
The Pentagon has made clear that with two wars of nearly a decade's duration bleeding us, we do not want a third war with Iran. For while easy to predict how such a war begins, with air and missile strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, no one can know how it ends.
Indeed, how would Israel reach its targets in Iran?
Turkey would not allow Israeli over-flights. The route over Jordan and Iraq would require U.S. military complicity, for we control Iraqi air space. Would Riyadh permit Israel to use its airspace to attack Iran, knowing Tehran could create havoc in the Gulf states and oil patch of northeastern Arabia?
The Israeli air force could destroy the nuclear power plant at Bushehr, the heavy water reactor at Arak and uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. But Israel cannot follow up and destroy all the dispersed nuclear facilities and missile sites of Iran. And no one knows what would follow.
How would Iran retaliate? Missile strikes on Tel Aviv? A missile barrage form Hezbollah igniting another Israeli-Lebanon war? How long could the United States stand by and watch Israel bombarded?
Indeed, the principal purpose and result of an Israeli pre-emptive war on Iran, bringing retaliation on Israel, would be to drag America in to fight and finish a war Israel had begun.
In whose interest is that? And who dreamed this resolution up?