Will We Fall For War Vs. Iran?

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the Chicago Sun-Times

Will We Fall For War Vs. Iran?

It would appear, according to news reports, that the hard-liners in the Bush administration, led by the vice president, are pushing for a war with Iran. The tactics are the same. Once you've played the fear card to start one war, the second time is easier.

Iran is a threat to American security and freedom. They are trying to build nuclear bombs to use against us. They are already killing Americans in Iraq. They hate us and our freedom. Eliminating the Iranian government and destroying its nuclear facilities is essential to the security of the United States and part of the international war on terror.

Will the shell game work again? I would like to think that it would not, that the American people will not be won over by "war on terror" propaganda, that Congress would not be taken in this time (not even Sen. Hillary Clinton), and that the national media would raise a loud hue and cry against yet another "preemptive war.''

Yet surely the hawks would shout once again that in a "national security emergency" the commander in chief has the power to go to war without authorization from Congress. The president might argue that Gen. David Petraeus approved the attack. Indeed, those on the dark side could even suggest that a presidential election could be "postponed" until the Iranian crisis is over -- and like the Iraq crisis, that might be never.

Once you have stolen one and maybe two presidential elections, it's relatively easy to steal a third, especially as part of the "global war on terror" and a "national security emergency."

A year ago, I would not have suspected that such a scenario could possibly be taken seriously. I'm not so sure anymore. The claims made for the almost unlimited power of the commander in chief seem to make anything, however bizarre, possible. Despite intense national opposition to the war in Iraq, there are enough "patriotic" cement heads in the country to provide support for such a project.

Cries like "nuke the Iranians before they nuke us" would be heard in the land. It might tip the national election to a Republican candidate -- perhaps the 9/11 candidate from New York City -- and to a majority of Republicans in Congress.

The president could even hint that such a war was ''the right thing to do,'' a conclusion he had reached after a long conversation with God.

There is precious little that those who are opposed to such a war could do. The president, his vice president could assert, is the commander in chief. He has the inherent power to start a war if he deems it necessary for the security of the country. The National Security Council could eavesdrop on opponents to the war, and the FBI could turn up with "national security letters" to probe into the lives of these "security risks." The pliant Supreme Court, having permitted the president to seize an election on the grounds of equal rights under the law, could easily phony up an argument that Justices Scalia and Thomas and their allies would support.

Perhaps the House could vote a bill of impeachment but there are not enough votes for conviction in the Senate. And the president could dismiss such an action as a violation of his powers as commander in chief.

Certainly Congress could pass a joint resolution now against such a war. But they would need half a dozen Republican senators to support it. That's not likely to happen. And the president could claim that he has the inherent power to ignore such a resolution.

When it comes to war in this administration, Dick Cheney always gets his way.

Andrew Greeley

Andrew W. Greeley is a progressive Catholic priest, sociologist, journalist and popular novelist. He is of Irish decent and resides in Chicago.

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