A Suggestion for the Davis City Council

by Judy Reynolds and Claude Garrod

On December 6, 2007, the City Council of Gary Indiana passed a resolution opposing war with Iran, noting that such a preemptive attack "has not been authorized by any law, resolution, court ruling or article of the Constitution," and urging support of diplomatic engagement with Iran. One might wonder why the Gary City Council took such an action just three days after a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program four years earlier and has not restarted the project, a finding that directly contradicted President Bush's contention that Tehran has been working steadily toward building a nuclear bomb. Shouldn't the NIE Report put to rest any concerns that Bush would continue to consider a preemptive attack on Iran? Hasn't the danger of a disastrous new adventure in Iran become negligible?

Not really. In fact, Bush's initial reaction to the NIE report may have given the Gary City Council cause to fear that he was determined to attack Iran in spite of the report. The day after the report's release, the President stated "Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon." He insisted that Iran's policy "remains the same." When asked if he was maintaining his threat to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, he stated, that "all options are on the table." A recent report by The Times of London revealed that, while Bush is in Israel, he will be briefed by Israeli military officials on the details of possible strikes by them and/or American forces against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Bush's bellicosity has been reinforced by comments of others. John Bolton noted". . .the NIE opens the way for Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions in an essentially unmolested fashion, to the detriment of us all." The national security advisor, Stephen J. Hadley, has been quoted as saying that the NIE "confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons . . . the intelligence also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem."

It is also possible that the Gary City Council members were concerned about the second prong of Bush's verbal attacks on Iran that focuses on allegations of Iran's "terrorist" activities. In the October, 2007, issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh described Bush's plan to redefine the war in Iraq "to an increasing degree as a strategic battle between the US and Iran." Included in this approach was a plan to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a "foreign terrorist organization." The government of Iran has been accused of assisting in the arming of various factions in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of American soldiers. In discussing this focus on counter-terrorism, a former military intelligence official told Hersh that "the Navy's planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the (Persian) Gulf and operating daily. They've got everything they need - even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf."

Congress has accommodated Bush in passing a resolution describing the Iranian Quds Force as a "terrorist organization" while refusing to pass a resolution requiring Bush to obtain Congressional consent before bombing Iran. The Democrats seem to be so terrified of being labeled "soft on terrorism" in an election year that they are willing to support a preemptive strike on Iran.

Nonetheless, Iran has gradually been fading from the headlines of our local newspapers. If increasing silence is a reliable signal, then there is hope that the NIE report and other things have diminished the threat of a preemptive attack on Iran, especially in light of recent remarks by Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, that there has been a clear decrease in the use of weapons in Iraq that U.S. officials say are made in Iran. In addition, Iraq has been working to promote cooperation between the U.S. and Iran on security issues, seeking to overcome an official long-standing diplomatic freeze.

However, it is a long time until the 2008 presidential elections. There have been no reports of diminishing U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. The President has not yet agreed to remove an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities or military forces from the "options" that are "on the table." We must also realize that the people who favor an attack have not disappeared, although they are temporarily quieted. Having the Davis City Council follow the example of Gary, Indiana and pass a resolution opposing an attack on Iran is, considering Bush's history on this issue, an action worthy of serious consideration.