For the next five months President George W Bush will remain Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States.
In other words, there are still slightly more than 150 possibilities for Iran to be attacked.
And the strange thing is, nobody can really do much to prevent President Bush from taking advantage of any of those opportunities. It’s a danger highlighted by the words of Thomas Powers in the New York Review of Books’ “Iran: The Threat” (July 17, 2008; Powers’ words are in italic ):
- According to the President, “all options” must remain “on the table.”
- Last April, information about an Israeli air strike in Siria has been released explicitly with the aim of “sending a message to Iran”
- According to Administration officials, Tehran wants a bomb in order to dominate the Persian Gulf region and to threaten its neighbors, especially Israel
- The seriousness of American threats is confirmed by the fact that […] the whole country listens to the administration’s threats with breath held […] in effect leaving the decision entirely to [Bush and Cheney]
- President Bush has accompanied periodic threats against Iran, supporting them with practical steps—the presence of large American armies just across Iran’s borders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the dispatch of the world’s largest fleet of warships to cruise along Iran’s Persian Gulf coastline. The Bush administration further accuses Iran of “meddling” in the affairs of its neighbors, of supplying weapons and training to Iraqis who kill Americans, and of being the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism
- [Bush and Cheney’s] frequent warnings that the United States does not trust Iran with the knowledge to enrich bomb-grade uranium and will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. Many of these warnings have been issued in the last month or two and we may expect a continuing barrage until their final days in office.
- The President’s frustration is plainly evident: Saddam Hussein may be gone, but Iran remains defiant, and more powerful than ever. The President’s male pride seems to have been aroused; he said he was going to solve the Iranian problem and he doesn’t want to back down.
Whatever the US Constitution has to say about war, the President of the United States can do pretty much anything he wants, under the guise of “executive power”. For an example, think of the botched rescue attempt of the American hostages in Iran, in 1980. Likewise, the successful invasion of Grenada in 1983.
And so we can literally wake up any day with the “news” of a US attack against Iran. Because as Powers concludes:
if attack is impossible, why does Bush talk himself into an ever-tighter corner by continuing to issue threats? Does he believe Iran will cave? Are these the only words he thinks people will still listen to? Is he hoping to tie the hands of the next president? Or is he preparing to summon the power of his office to carry out the last option on the table? One hardly knows whether to take the question seriously. It seems alarmist and overexcited even to pose it when the realities are so clear. But it is impossible to be sure—Bush has a history