Forget Gaza: Let’s Have a War with Iran

April 23rd, 2024 - by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos / Responsible Statecraft

Lawmakers Who Ignored Gaza Crisis
Now Want a War With Iran

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos / Responsible Statecraft

(April 14, 2024) — Members of Congress who have said little to nothing about the over 33,000 Palestinians dead amid Israeli bombs and artillery — two-thirds deemed innocent civilians — in retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis, are swiftly calling the Iranian drone and missile attacks Saturday night a “disproportionate” response by Iran.

Iran was responding to the killing of seven of its officials in what has been deemed to be by many (except most pro-Israel Western countries) an illegal Israeli strike on the Iranian consultate in Syria on April 1. Saturday’s response by Iran has been called highly choreographed to send a message, even limited, and it was. After the missiles and drones started to fly, the Iranians literally broadcast that their message to Israel had “concluded.”

On Sunday morning, the Israelis and the U.S. reported that 99 percent of the more than 300 projectiles had been shot down by U.S. and Israeli defense systems. There were no deaths, but a seven-year-old girl remains in hospital with life threatening injuries. Her home in the Negev Desert was hit with falling shrapnel from an intercepted missile.

That hasn’t stopped howls from both Democratic and Republican members, many of whom have sat on the sidelines as tens of thousands of Gazans have been punished for Hamas’s attacks — killed, maimed, starved, displaced, or left unfound under the rubble.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said this week that some 1,000 children in Gaza have lost one or both of their legs. There were an estimated 17,000 children left unaccompanied and alone, as of February.

By all accounts on the ground, there is very little for Gazans to go back to if and when the attacks there ever stop. But Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), wants you to know that what Iran did on Saturday night was “terrorism” and “disproportionate” and a threat to “the free world.”

Suddenly, it is as if dozens of AIPAC-funded members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were liberated to unleash self-righteous indignation at Iran, rushing to X and dutiful cable television cameras to outdo even themselves.

Here’s Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn (top AIPAC recipient) calling on President Biden to launch our own strikes against Iran:

Iran has begun launching drone strikes on Israel. @POTUS — we must move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran.

Here’s New York Democrat Rep. Ritche Torres (another tippity-top AIPAC recipient):

Iran has fired drones at Israel. The United States will stand with Israel as it seeks to defend itself in the face of an Iranian attack. Iran is the single most destabilizing force in the Middle East. It must be held accountable for the aggression it has long shown toward Israel not only directly but also indirectly through proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis.

GOP Sen. Roger Wicker (another top beneficiary of AIPAC and highest ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee) had this to say in a statement Saturday:
“This is the moment for the United States to show we stand together with our allies. Our shared enemies, including Iran and their proxies, need to know our commitment is unwavering. We must join with Israel to ensure that Iran’s aggression is met with resolute action and resounding strength.”

Here’s Democratic Sen. John Fetterman (Pa.) saying he disagrees with news that Biden has actually drawn the line on offering Israel offensive assistance in any new Israel attacks against Iran:
Iran’s attack “demonstrates how it’s astonishing that we are not standing firmly with Israel. And there should never be any kinds of conditions… Fetterman said he disagrees with Biden not assisting Israel w/counterattack. “We should follow and have Israel’s back.”

It is no question that Iran funds Hamas and works closely with its leadership. But after months of debate and discussion we still do not know definitively whether Iran directly helped to orchestrate the Oct. 7 attacks. More importantly we know now that Tehran has kept open communication with Washington to ensure that the war in Gaza does not spill out via its proxies in the Middle East.

They have even kept pro-Iranian militias in check when it comes to attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria (which may be rescinded if certain lawmakers have their way and Washington gets directly involved in Israel’s fight).

Yet a limited,  consultative retaliation for the second assassination of one of its senior officers since Oct. 7 is the doing of “terrorists” and “fanatics” for whom Congress must drop everything to respond, even if it means putting our own military servicemen and women at risk in the region, if not the homeland.

Lastly, one should highly consider the opposite view when John Bolton is out there calling for the U.S. to literally fight Iran alongside Israel: Remember, he has been a key supporter if not planner behind every foreign policy/national security failure since 9/11.

If Israel is prepared to go after Iran’s nuclear program, the United States should proudly join them, I explained why on @newsnation this morning.

If he didn’t have such a public beef with Donald Trump, we could very well see Bolton on the other side of the White House or Pentagon fences again. But does it really matter, with the amount of agitation for confrontation among Democrats and Republicans today? Best grab your gas masks and food supply — this is your War Party, in high gear.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is Editorial Director of Responsible Statecraft and Senior Advisor at the Quincy Institute. The views expressed by authors on Responsible Statecraft do not necessarily reflect those of the Quincy Institute or its associates.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.