Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) recently introduced a bill that would enable to US to invade Iran for the stated purpose of preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
During the 2016 election, Donald Trump seemed to be the “anti-war” candidate compared to his then-opponent Hillary Clinton, especially when he spoke out against US interventionism and pledged to heal ties with Russia. Though ties with Russia have smoothed over since Trump took office, Trump has taken a more militaristic tone with some other foreign powers as evidenced by his recent statements and actions regarding both Iran and China. While the rise of antagonism between the US and these regional powers is troubling for a variety of reasons, just as troubling is the gusto with which some US congressmen are working to advance the “inevitability” of a military conflict between them.
Earlier this month, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.J.Res. 10 or the “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution.” Taken at face value, the bill appears to allow the President to authorize military force against Iran, which is bad enough. Yet, the text of the bill goes further – it authorizes the president to launch a “pre-emptive” war with the Middle Eastern nation without requiring Congressional approval and without the necessity of Iran having actually committed any action that would warrant a full-scale invasion. Specifically, the text of the bill states that: “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.”
Considering Trump and his national security team’s hostility towards Iran, it seems likely that – if passed – the bill could be used as a “blank check” to realize many of the threats that have already been made. As soon as Trump was officially inaugurated, his administration announced its plans to develop a “state of the art” missile defense system intended to prevent attacks launched specifically from North Korea or Iran. While the inclusion of North Korea is more easily justified, the Iranian defense shield is a hawkish move given that Iran has not acted aggressively towards the U.S. In addition, both the CIA and Israeli intelligence have confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one.
However, Trump’s stance on Iran, as well as that of many other US politicians, is not influenced by Iran’s actions, but by Israel’s. Trump’s ties to Israel have become decidedly closer in the months since his election, likely owing to Trump’s chief strategist – Steve Bannon – being a “passionate Zionist” and Vice President Mike Pence’s strongly pro-Israel views. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, the state of Israel’s “supreme goal” is the containment of Iran, suggesting that the US politicians who have aligned themselves with Israel also share this vision.
Though Iran’s disdain for Israel is clear, Israel has pursued its goal of “containment” in militaristic fashion, with over 200 Israeli nuclear weapons currently pointed at Iran’s capital Tehran. Israel’s government expects the same tactics from those U.S. politicians most sympathetic to its cause. It should also come as no surprise, then, that the same author of this “pre-emptive war” with Iran resolution, Congressman Alcee Hastings, received over $70,000 from the Pro-Israel lobby last election cycle. This bill and the militant posturing against Iran within US politics is a clear sign that Israel’s influence continues to overpower the national interest.