Tuesday, January 14, 2014

National honor, WW-I, Israel & Iran

Bringing together a few things:

Exhibit 1: from CIP:
According to many accounts, World War I started by escalation of a global game of chicken in which each side let itself be sucked further into the vortex in response to escalating threats to their "national honor. In order to avoid loss of face each side managed to lose millions of lives, destroy its economy, and lose empires.

Exhibit 2:  from Patrick Buchanan (of all people!)
As we approach the centennial of World War I, we will read much of the blunders that produced that tragedy of Western civilization.

Among them will be the "blank check" Kaiser Wilhelm II gave to Vienna after the assassination by a Serb terrorist of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

If you decide to punish the Serbs, said the Kaiser, we are with you. 

After dithering for weeks, Austria shelled Belgrade. Within a week, Germany and Austria were at war with Russia, France and Great Britain. 

Today the Senate is about to vote Israel a virtual blank check — for war on Iran. Reads Senate bill S.1881:.....

Exhibit 3: Senate bill S.1881, by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)  & 58 co-sponsors
Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--....
(5) if the Government of Israel is compelled to take 
        military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's 
        nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should 
        stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of 
        the United States and the constitutional responsibility of 
        Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, 
        military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in 
        its defense of its territory, people, and existence; 

The irony is that CIP was probably thinking about the India-US diplomatic spat while the very real danger of a war lay elsewhere -- Senator Menendez introduced his bill S.1881 to the Senate December 19, 2013, ten days earlier.   I had written to Menendez around December 27, after reading this dailykos.com diary.   I received a reply, Jan 2,  including this excerpt:

I support a two-track policy of diplomacy and sanctions.  The interim agreement reached between Iran and the international community on November 24th, 2013, is a beginning and a product of that policy.    Given Iran's history of duplicity, however, it is crucial that we demand full Iranian compliance with the interim agreement and adhere to a tight time frame to reach a final agreement with Iran.  I also believe that until Iran has verifiably terminated its illicit nuclear program, we should continue to vigorously enforce existing sanctions and be ready to proceed with new sanctions should negotiations fail.  I expect that any new sanctions legislation considered by the Senate will support this two-track policy of diplomacy and sanctions by providing at least a six month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new sanctions on Iran.