War With Iran? Maybe, If Lindsey Graham Gets His Way

Shortly before arriving at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that Senate Resolution 65 now has 63 supporters in the Senate under the hashtag #StandWithIsrael. Graham and Robert Mendez, a New Jersey Democrat and head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the bipartisan resolution on February 28 in order to compel the U.S. to unequivocally support Israel militarily and financially in the event that it chooses to attack Iran.

Unsurprisingly, the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) sponsored, promoted, and pushed the Senate to write Resolution 65 even as it introduced H.R. 850 via the House to cripple Iran with even more sanctions that have already crushed its fragile economy and depreciated its currency by 80% in the face of significant wage stagnation and 34% unemployment. The latest round of AIPAC-sponsored sanctions, alongside Resolution 65, would only increase the country’s economic turmoil and undermine the limited progress made towards ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear warhead (which the CIA is unsure the regime currently wants) while making Iran more likely to pursue the nuclear option.

Resolution 65 gives Israel the green light to attack Iran, with no justification and full U.S. backing, potentially allowing Israel to pull Americans into a disastrous war without so much as consulting our elected officials. Israel could feasibly define any strike on Iran, including the ongoing, covert U.S.-Israeli shadow war on Iran, as a preemptive act of self defense and the U.S. would be obliged to support it regardless of the context or circumstances.

Granted, the resolution has the stipulation that "if Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense" but in the current environment, with hard liners like Benjamin Netanyahu in control of the Knesset, Israel could institute wide scale bombings across Iranian nuclear facilities on the pretext that because Iran is enriching uranium at 20% levels. Any attack launched by Israel will be justified with the claim that they are making a pre-emptive strike for the sake of self-defense. It is also important to note that constructing a nuclear weapon requires 90% enrichment levels, and that even 20% levels have practical, domestic applications: they generate enough isotopes to cure cancer patients.

The U.S. must avoid sanctioning an Israeli attack on Iran at all costs as such a move would bolster popular Iranian support for the widely unpopular regime, as it did during the Iran-Iraq War, and solidify the ayatollahs' power. Furthermore, attacking Iran would prompt it to walk away from the negotiating table and rekindle their previous, but now defunct, ambitions to build a nuclear bomb. General Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA. under the Bush administration, has warned that bombing Iran would only push them closer towards obtaining nuclear weapons. This view is actually mainstream among the Pentagon and the U.S. national security establishment, the overwhelming majority of whom believe that an Israeli attack would lead to both a regional war and the decimation of any chance of popular protests, reform, or overthrow of the unpopular, repressive Iranian regime.

There is no doubt that the U.S. will defend Israel in the unlikely event that Iran attempts to initiate a war of aggression, as it should defend any country under unwarranted attack. But giving a right-wing, hawkish Israeli government the green light to attack Iran will, at the best, destroy any hope of resolving Iran’s nuclear issue through diplomacy and, at the worst, initiate a war throughout the Middle East where Iran actively does rescind on previous promises and obtains a nuclear weapon.