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House Bill Would Allow Trump to Wage Preventive War On Iran

A US Navy aircraft carrier and warplanes in the Persian Gulf. (Photo: US Navy/Flickr Creative Commons)

A joint resolution introduced in the House of Representatives last month authorizes preventive war against Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.

H.J. Res. 10, the “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution,” is sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and permits the president to wage war as he sees fit, with the goal of thwarting Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.

“The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the measure states, adding that any such action is subject to the War Powers Resolution, which limits military action to 60 days unless Congress offers the Commander-in-Chief an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) or a declaration of war.

“The United States must do all that is necessary to ensure that all of Iran’s pathways to obtaining a nuclear weapon are blocked,” the resolution declares, adding that “Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is a threat not only to the United States but also to our allies in the region” and “Iran’s sincerity in forgoing the procurement of a nuclear weapon has created legitimate cause for concern.”

The last national intelligence assessment showed consensus among all 16 US intelligence agencies that Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons, a conclusion also reached by leading Israeli intelligence officials. Despite this, Republican lawmakers have long called for a US war on Iran. Perhaps most alarmingly, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) called for a nuclear attack against Iranian nuclear sites.

“If you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground,” Hunter said in 2013. “You do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think there’s a way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”

The United States is the only nation to have ever waged nuclear war, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and for years to come from radiation, cancer and other ailments.

Iran has not initiated a war in nearly 200 years, although the Islamic Republic does sponsor groups considered terrorists by the United States, Israel and other Western nations. The US, Israel and others also sponsor their own campaigns of state terrorism against Iran, allegedly launching cyberattacks against the nation’s nuclear facilities and assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists. The US also trained and supports the Iranian exile terrorist group MEK, which has carried out attacks against regime targets for decades. Crippling economic sanctions have hamstrung Iran’s economy and have hurt ordinary Iranians the most.

The concept of preventive war gained popularity within the George W. Bush administration following the Islamist terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While military experts say there are times when preemptive war may be necessary to thwart an immediate foreign threat, the far more nebulous notion of preventive war — waged on the mere possibility that a threat may one day emerge — is much more dubious. The infamous 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a textbook preventive strike, meant to eliminate the US Navy threat in the Pacific and thus avert the type of war that eventually led to the destruction of much of Japan.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, faced with calls for a preventive attack on the Soviet Union, scoffed: “All of us have heard this term ‘preventive war’ since the earliest days of Hitler… I don’t believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.”

Bush’s determination to wage preventive war in Iraq — a nation which had nothing to do with 9/11 and which had long ago given up developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) — is widely considered one of the most disastrous decisions in US history, resulting in hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and thousands of US  troops killed and a country left in ruins and ripe for exploitation by Islamist extremist groups like Islamic State.

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