Escalation in the Middle
January 15, 2007
the president’s announcement that an additional 20,000 troops would be sent to
Iraq dominated the headlines last week, the real story was the president’s
sharp rhetoric towards Iran and Syria. And recent moves by the administration
only serve to confirm the likelihood of a wider conflict in the Middle East.
president stated last week that, “Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending
its territorial integrity- and stabilizing the region in the face of the
extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria.”
He also announced the deployment of an additional aircraft carrier battle
group to the Persian Gulf, and the deployment of Patriot air missile defense
systems to countries in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, US troops stormed the Iranian consulate in Iraq and detained
several Iranian diplomats. Taken together, the message was clear: the
administration intends to move the US closer to a dangerous and ill-advised
conflict with Iran.
I said last week on the House floor, speculation in Washington focuses on when,
not if, either Israel or the U.S. will bomb Iran-- possibly with nuclear
accusation sounds very familiar: namely, that Iran possesses weapons of mass
destruction. Iran has never been found in violation of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, and our own Central Intelligence Agency says Iran is
more than ten years away from producing any kind of nuclear weapon.
Yet we are told we must act immediately while we still can!
all sounds very familiar, but many of my colleagues don’t seem to have learned
much from the invasion of Iraq. House Democrats strongly criticized the Iraq
troop surge after the president’s announcement, but then praised the
president’s confrontational words condemning Iran.
Many of those opposing a troop surge are not calling for a withdrawal of
our troops from the Middle East, but rather for “redeployment.” Redeployment
to where? Iran?
need to return to reality when it comes to our Middle East policy. We need to
reject the increasingly shrill rhetoric coming from the same voices who urged
the president to invade Iraq.
truth is that Iran, like Iraq, is a third-world nation without a significant
military. Nothing in history hints that she is likely to invade a neighboring
country, let alone America or Israel. I am concerned, however, that a contrived
Gulf of Tonkin- type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on
best approach to Iran, and Syria for that matter, is to heed the advice of the
Iraq Study Group Report,
"… the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging with Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results."
In coming weeks I plan to introduce legislation that urges the administration to heed the advice of the Iraq Study Group. Dialogue and discussion should replace inflammatory rhetoric and confrontation in our Middle East policy, if we truly seek to defeat violent extremism and terrorism.