With a U.S. military strike against Syria appearing less likely, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is renewing his call for a resolution authorizing the president to wage war on Iran over that nation's nuclear program.
"I'm going to get a bipartisan coalition together," Graham (shown on left) said on Mike Huckabee's Fox News program Sunday. "We're going to put together a use-of-force resolution, allowing our country to use military force ... to stop the Iranian nuclear program.... I'm going to need your help, Mike, and the help of Americans and friends of Israel."
Graham is once again sounding the alarm over Iran's nuclear development program, which Iran has said is for peaceful uses of nuclear power, including nuclear energy and the use of nuclear isotopes for medical purposes. Graham and others have concluded that the program is for the development of a nuclear bomb that Iran is likely to use against Israel. Graham's announcement on Huckabee's program is in keeping with a promise he made this summer before a cheering crowd at a gathering of Christians United for Israel.
"If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb," Graham said at the July 23rd event "The only way to convince Iran to halt their nuclear program is to make it clear that we will take it out," Graham said, echoing comments he made a week earlier when he called the war authorization "the last card to play in a very dangerous situation."
The National Intelligence Estimate made by all 16 of the U.S. Intelligence agencies reported in 2007 and again in 2011 there was no evidence that Iran had made a decision to convert its nuclear development efforts into a weapons program. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was elected on a pledge to get U.S. sanctions lifted and to end Iran's isolation. The nation's supreme authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued a fatwa against an Iranian nuclear weapon. Yet Graham has repeated his call for a military attack on Iran over and over for at least the past three years. On September 20, 2010, Graham acknowledged that such an attack might well open a "Pandora's box" of unforeseen and unintended consequences, but added: "If you allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, you've emptied Pandora's box. I'd rather open up Pandora's box than empty it." In November of that year, he predicted that if President Obama should decide to get "tough with Iran beyond sanctions" he would enjoy "a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon." At the same time, Graham made it clear that he would not be satisfied with a limited attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The bombing campaign he envisioned would be far more extensive.
"Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure," he said, "I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that's a different military scenario. It's not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back."
President Obama's planned meeting with Iran's Rouhani at the United Nations will likely not sit well with Graham, who announced nearly a year ago, on October 21, 2012, that "the time for talking [with Iran] is over."
The effort to smash Iran's ability to wage war by an intensive aerial bombardment might please Iran's enemies in Israel and its neighbors in Saudi Arabia, as well as the neocon warhawks in Washington, but the sight of more dead civilians, including women and children, buried as "collateral damage" under U.S. bombs would no doubt inflame anti-American sentiment in the Near and Middle East, destabilize shaky markets, and spark a dramatic rise in oil prices that have begun to drop since the Russian-brokered agreement between the United States and Syria over Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons reduced the likelihood of military confrontation with Syria. What's more, the resolution Graham calls for would be, as columnist Pat Buchanan has pointed out, a "preemptive surrender" of Congress's power to declare war by granting the president a "blank check" to wage war against Iran at the time and under the conditions of his own determination.
"That Vladimir Putin is going to Tehran, and Obama to the U.N. to meet Rouhani is good news," Buchanan wrote. "Better news would be that Congressional anti-interventionists were meeting Graham's war resolution with one of their own, reaffirming that, as of today, Obama has no authority to launch any preemptive or presidential war on Iran."