March 14, 2007


Democrats Retreat on War Funds: Engel Emerges as Key Hawk (ELI LAKE, March 14, 2007, NY Sun)

The change in emphasis for the House leader was not limited to the funding bill. Yesterday, at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Ms. Pelosi endorsed toughening American sanctions on Iran by stripping the executive branch of the power to waive the sanctions. Her position would effectively establish a trigger to deny companies such as Royal Dutch Shell access to the American financial markets if they continued to work with Iran.

The showdown among the Democrats, first reported by the Associated Press, discloses the fragility of the party's 233- to 201-seat advantage over Republicans in the House of Representatives. Five House sources yesterday said the language barring the president from expanding military actions into Iran was initially added as an inducement for the more left-wing Democrats to support the funding bill that some argued had too many exemptions for allowing American soldiers to stay in Iraq.

But the effort to bring in the left flank backfired. Ms. Pelosi faced new opposition by the conservative "blue dog" Democrats and the informal caucus of Jewish members who have traditionally held more hawkish positions on the security of Israel, which Iran's president has vowed to wipe off the map.

"I think frankly the Iranian regime is a dangerous regime," said Mr. Engel, who threatened to vote no on the bill if it included provision tying the president's hands on Iran. "The only way they will respond in a moderate way will be through pressure. While I do not support any military action against Iran, I do believe everything needs to be on the table in order for them to calculate that they have to modify their behavior."

Mr. Ackerman yesterday said after Mr. Engel and Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Nevada Democrat, bluntly said they would not vote for the supplemental funding bill if it included the language barring use of force against Iran, the caucus of pro-Israel Democrats and blue dog Democrats began an impromptu discussion with Ms. Pelosi in between votes in the well of the House floor.

Mr. Ackerman said he made a political and policy argument in favor of withdrawing the Iran language. "Most people think it would be a bad idea to attack Iran. Those of us who have thought it out, also think it is a bad idea to take it off the table," he said.

He said he stressed that "everybody knows that you can't start a war unless Congress acquiesces. But with this, you are going to lose votes, a lot of the Jewish members, a lot of the conservative members and many of the Republicans who would have voted with us on this but want to make sure the president has all of his options on Iran."

Hey, Mearsheimer and Walt were right after all!

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2007 11:26 AM

Israel: hostage and pretext to empire.

Once again it is made clear that setting up and maintaining Israel has been a geopolitical brilliancy. As Great Britain receded after World War Two, it became necessary for the United States to assert dominion over the naval choke points and strategic resources whicg are the Middle East. Israel makes this course of action politically viable.

Thus it plays out: the Democrats wake up, but they cannot chew off the arm which is Israel to get out of the trap.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 14, 2007 5:15 PM

Once again, the geopolitical brilliancy of having set up Israel as the hostage and pretext to empire unfolds.

As Great Britain receded, we stepped up to dominion over the naval choke points and strategic resources which are the Middle East.

Try as they will, the Democrats, waking up in the trap, still cannot chew off the arm that is Israel.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 14, 2007 7:05 PM

Note that we solved the three unsolveable problems promptly on the end of the Cold War because it just doesn't matter anymore if the wogs have those chokepoints.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 7:34 PM

Too bad Cynthia McKinney is not in Congress today. Her daddy could have roared again - "It was the Jooos!"

But perhaps Sheila Jackson Lee or Pete Stark or Kucinich or Conyers can take up the charge.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 15, 2007 12:07 AM

While I do not support any military action against Iran, I do believe everything needs to be on the table in order for them to calculate that they have to modify their behavior.

And while you're at it, please pass the kosher pork.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 15, 2007 2:46 AM