America is four years into a bloody debacle in Iraq not merely because Bush and Cheney marched us in, or simply because neocon propagandists lied about Saddam's nuclear program and WMDs, and Iraqi ties to al-Qaida, anthrax attacks and 9-11.
We are there because a Democratic Senate voted to give Bush a blank check for war. Democrats in October 2002 wanted the war vote behind them so they could go home and campaign as pro-war patriots.
And because they did, 3,000 Americans are dead, 25,000 are wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives, 1.6 million have fled, $400 billion has been lost and America stands on the precipice of the worst strategic defeat in her history.
Yet, Sens. Clinton, Biden, Kerry and Edwards -- all of whom voted to give Bush his blank check -- are now competing to succeed him. And how do they justify what they did?
"If only we had known then what we know now," they plead, "we would never have voted for the war." They are thus confessing to dereliction in the highest duty the Founding Fathers gave Congress. They voted to cede to a president their power to take us to war.
Now they wash their hands of it all and say, "It's Bush's War!"
And now George Bush has another war in mind.
In his Jan. 11 address, Bush said that to defend the "territorial integrity" of Iraq, the United States must address "Iran and Syria."
"These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
The city sat bolt upright. If Bush was talking about Iranian agents inside Iraq, he has no need of a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf, nor for those Patriot missiles he is sending to our allies.
But does Bush have the authority to take us to war against Iran?
On ABC last Sunday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, while denying Bush intends to attack Iran, nonetheless did not deny Bush had the authority to escalate the war -- right into Iran.
George Stephanopoulos: "So you don't believe you have the authority to go into Iran?"
Stephen Hadley: "I didn't say that. That is another issue. Any time you have questions about crossing international borders, there are legal questions."
Any doubt how Attorney General Gonzales would come down on those "legal questions"? Any doubt how the Supreme Court would rule?
Biden sputters that should Bush attack Iran, a constitutional crisis would ensue.
I don't believe it. If tomorrow Bush took out Iran's nuclear facilities, would a Senate that lacks the courage to cut funds for an unpopular war really impeach him for denying a nuclear capability to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Bush's lawyers would make the same case Nixon made for the 1970 "incursion" into Cambodia -- and even a Nixon-hating Democratic House did not dare to impeach him for that.
Bush's contempt for Congress is manifest and, frankly, justified.
Asked if Congress could stop him from surging 21,500 troops into Iraq, Bush on "60 Minutes" brushed aside Congress as irrelevant.
"I fully understand (the Congress) could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward." Asked if he had sole authority "to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do," Bush replied, "In this situation I do, yeah."
Is Congress then impotent, if it does not want war on Iran?
Enter Rep. Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina.
The day after Bush's threat to Iran, Jones introduced a Joint Resolution, "Concerning the Use of Military Force by the United States Against Iran." Under HJR 14, "Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories, possessions or its armed forces, the president shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating any use of force on Iran."
Jones' resolution further declares, "No provision of law enacted before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of military force by the United States against Iran."
If we are going to war on Iran, Jones is saying, we must follow the Constitution and Congress must authorize it.
If Biden, Kerry, Clinton and Obama refuse to sign on to the Jones resolution, they will be silently conceding that Bush indeed does have the power to start a war on Iran. And America should pay no further attention to the Democrats' wailing about being misled on the Iraq war.