Yesterday, Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton (NY), Chuck Schumer (NY), Bob Menendez (NJ), Barbara Mikulski (MD), and Ben Cardin (MD) all voted in favor of the "Kyl-Lieberman Iran Amendment." This piece of legislation actually encourages the practitioner of cowboy diplomacy, George W. Bush, to be even more belligerent in his foreign policy. The Kyl-Lieberman Amendment passed by a vote of 76 to 22. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden voted against it, and Barack Obama missed the vote.
The amendment states: "The United State should designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization . . . and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists."
Kyl-Lieberman is the first step in providing Congressional legitimacy for military action against Iran. The 76 to 22 vote, which also had the support of Majority Leader Harry Reid, codifies U.S. Iran policy and comes very close to sounding like a declaration of war. Designating a four decades old military branch of a sovereign state a "foreign terrorist organization" is an extreme step that is only necessary or useful if there are plans "on the table" to do something about it.
The U.S. troops in Iraq are not considered "foreign." The U.S. calls those Iraqis who are resisting occupation "terrorists." Now a segment of the Iranian armed forces is being labeled a terrorist organization. Such a step is tantamount to a foreign government designating the U.S. Marines a "foreign terrorist organization."
The Democratic Senate is playing right into the hands of those neo-cons and crazies who think a military strike against Iran will improve the situation in the Middle East. On the contrary, it will magnify the current disaster in Iraq tenfold.
If the Senate and the Neo-Cons convince Bush to strike Iran they will be sparking a real war with a nation that can fight back. With its 70 million people, high literacy rate, key geographic location, level of economic development, and its control of a significant share of the world's oil production, Iran is a nation that could cause quite a stir if Bush is dim-witted enough to go down that terrible road.
I can envision a scenario where the United States launches a sustained set of air raids against most of the infrastructure of Iran, specifically targeting the "nuclear facilities" that are widely dispersed throughout the country. The Democrats in Congress will be jumping through hoops like well-trained circus dogs as they vote for resolutions and give speeches validating the aggression. And then we're off to the races in another illegal war against a nation that has not attacked us.
Iran accounts for about 4 percent of the world's daily oil production, and will surely shut off the spigots if it is attacked sending the price of oil skyward. (Iran's ally Venezuela might follow suit.) Petroleum analysts estimate that the world runs only about a 2 percent excess capacity of oil production, which could mean an instant drop to a negative world supply if Iran chooses to stop pumping. This reduction in output alone could wreak havoc with global energy markets.
Iran might also take the step of disrupting the oil production of neighboring Gulf States through missile attacks on their oil infrastructure and sabotage. The world production of oil could then drop to a negative 10 percent or more, and the price could shoot up even higher. The American people, who consume more oil per capita than any people on earth, will be waiting in long lines to fill up our tanks as we did during the Iranian revolution in 1978-79. Ordinary Americans don't only get the privilege of paying for the costs of the missiles and ordnance Bush will throw at Iran, but we also get the honor of paying triple the amount for a gallon of gas while we are queued up at the pump.
The Iranian silkworm missiles, supplied by China, (which recently signed a $100 billion oil and gas deal with Iran), will rip through the shipping of the Persian Gulf. Explosions of undetermined origin will rake through the oil platforms and infrastructure of the Gulf States. Iraq's civil war will reach a new intensity. And bombs will go off throughout the region wreaking havoc with the smooth transport of oil.
The Iranians and their allies in the Gulf will cause trouble in the Straights of Hormuz where 40 percent of the world's oil passes. They will turn the Gulf into a garbage dump of damaged ships and flaming oil dereks. Russia and China will supply arms to Iran and the conflict will continue, like Iraq, for as long as the United States tries to impose its will on the region through brute force.
They will also probably have agents blow up U.S. embassies and other targets all over the world. The war will be the most destabilizing the Persian Gulf has ever seen.
Compounded with the financial strains of the $600 billion Iraq occupation, the new war with Iran will run the risk of bankrupting the United States. China might cash in some of its $1 trillion in U.S. treasury bonds and exchange them for Euros. The value of the dollar could then be suddenly devalued. The life savings of millions of Americans could be threatened as the dollar tanks, and interest rates shoot up when the central banks try to entice foreigners' to hang on to their dollars to stop the hemorrhaging. And this devaluing of the dollar could occur in an environment of hyperinflation because the high price of oil will drive up the costs of everything.
So let's not let those narrow interests who seek another wider war in the Middle East prevail. They don't really know what they're getting themselves into.