As George Bush reflects on his legacy, an urgent question must be pressing in upon him each day.
Will I leave here as the man who launched failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost thousands of U.S. dead, to no avail? Or can I yet enter history as the Churchillian statesman who used U.S. power to save America and Israel from the mortal threat of atomic weapons in the hands of the Iranian mullahs?
Which legacy would Bush prefer? Or Cheney?
As Americans await Bush's address announcing a "surge" of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq, we may be missing the larger picture. The War Party is turning its attention from Iraq -- to Iran.
Nor is it simply an analysis of the character of George Bush that causes one to so conclude.
Tehran is now two weeks into a 60-day deadline to answer a Security Council resolution directing it to cease enriching uranium. While the sanctions are mild, the resolution passed unanimously and gives Bush the U.N. cover he used to wage war on Iraq. If Iran defies the United Nations, Bush will demand further sanctions. Up the escalator we go.
Moreover, a second U.S. carrier battle group is heading for the Gulf. More interesting, the new CentCom commander, replacing Gen. John Abizaid, is no soldier, but Adm. William J. Fallon, commander in chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific. What Fallon does not know about securing streets, he does know about taking out targets from the air and keeping sea lanes open in a time of war.
Bush may be sending signals, but the Israelis are preparing for war. The London Sunday Times reports that Israeli pilots have been making the 2,000-mile run to Gibraltar to train for strikes with bunker-busting nuclear bombs on Iran's heavy water plant at Arak, the uranium hexaflouride facility at Isfahan and the centrifuge cascade at Natanz.
Israel angrily denies the report. But, on Dec. 30, retired Gen. Oded Tira, who headed up all Israeli artillery units, burst into print with this admonition:
"As an American air strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help (Bush) pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and U.S. newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."
"Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," writes Tira. Thus, Israel and its U.S. lobbying arm "must turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they publicly support immediate action by Bush against Iran."
"The Americans must act," Tira concludes. "If they don't, we'll do it ourselves ... (and) we must immediately start preparing for an Iranian response to an attack."
According to UPI editor-at-large Arnaud De Borchgrave, Tira's line tracks the New Year's Day message of Likud superhawk "Bibi" Netanyahu, the former prime minister.
Said Netanyahu, Israel "must immediately launch an intense, international public relations front first and foremost on the U.S. The goal being to encourage President Bush to live up to specific pledges he would not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. We must make clear to the (U.S.) government, the Congress and the American public that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the U.S. and the entire world, not only Israel."
Israel's war, says Bibi, must be sold as America's war.
We are thus forewarned. A propaganda campaign, using Israeli agents and their neocon auxiliaries and sympathizers, who stampeded us into war in Iraq, is being prepared to stampede us into war on Iran.
We are to be convinced that Iran, with no air force or navy to speak of, an economy not 2 percent of ours, which has not started a single war since the revolution, 27 years ago, is about to give to terrorists, to use on us, a nuclear bomb it may be 10 years away from even being able to build.
Will Congress be duped again into giving Bush a blank check for war? Or will this new Congress summon the courage to take the war option out of Bush's hands, to decide itself, for the nation, when, where and whether America should ever go to war against Iran?
Every presidential candidate should be asked: Does President Bush have the authority to attack Iran without specific congressional authorization? And would you support giving him that authority?
Needed today are courageous men and women of both parties who will introduce and pass a congressional resolution stating, "In the absence of a direct Iranian attack on U.S. forces or personnel, or an imminent threat of such an attack, President Bush has no authority to launch a pre-emptive strike or a preventive war on Iran."
If we are going to war, let us do it constitutionally, for once, and not leave it up solely to George W. Bush and Brother Cheney.