To function as a country, we apparently must have an enemy. Peace and diplomacy doesn't work, as this scene in Michael Moore's 1995 movie satirically depicts. When lacking a real enemy, we must create one.
And that is what the Senate did last week, apparently without the blessings of the President. Who is the enemy? Iran.
In a surprisingly swift move on Thursday night that could have wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Senate passed a bill containing broad unilateral sanctions to punish foreign companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand its domestic refinery capabilities.
The voice vote came at the eleventh hour before the chamber recessed so legislators could go home to campaign. The bill cannot come before the president to be signed into law until a conference procedure combines it with a similar House bill, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), passed in October.
The Senate move reveals an administration losing control of even its own party in foreign policy dealings, as U.S. President Barack Obama has tried to maintain engagement with Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear programme, which the Islamic Republic insists is for peaceful purposes.
Along with scores of Democrats, who favoured the bill over the administration's objections, the effort was supported by Iran hawks including Republican co-sponsor John Kyl and neoconservative independent Joe Lieberman, and was characterised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a shot at Obama.
"If the Obama administration will not take action against this regime, then Congress must," McConnell said.
Take action for what? Remind me again, what American interest has Iran threatened? That's right, NONE. Now the neo-cons/hawks will scream "nuclear weapons!", but we had a new NIE this month on Iran, and guess what? No nuclear weapons program. But don't let some little piddly facts get in the way of starting yet another war front in the Middle East:
As the Obama administration edges toward imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, it has begun upgrading its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials said Saturday.
The United States has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is beefing up the presence of ships capable of knocking down hostile missiles in flight.
What the hell, people? Where are all those deficit queens now? Can we possibly afford--in both lives and treasure--yet another war of choice, with a country that is not threatening us?
Are we doomed to keep repeating mistakes of lessons not learned, or is this another example of needing an enemy?