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Democrats Wage War Over Iran

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp has become an issue in the Democratic primary (AP).

There's an Iran war raging alright -- right here at home, on the Democratic presidential trail.

Two weeks ago, the Senate approved a non-binding resolution urging the Bush administration to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. The powerful and well-funded IRGC, an offshoot of the Iranian military, has been linked by the Pentagon to illegal Shiite militias in Iraq. The Senate vote was 76-22 -- a margin suggesting the resolution had not generated much controversy.

But the list of yeas and nays revealed an interesting split, and provided a rare opportunity for Every Democrat But Hillary to drive a wedge with the frontrunner.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) voted for the resolution, along with the entire Senate Democratic leadership. Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) voted against it. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would have voted no -- had the vote not been scheduled at the last minute, after he had left D.C. for the campaign trail.

At first the resolution drew little attention. It came up at the Democratic debate in New Hampshire later that night, when long-shot candidate Mike Gravel called it "essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran." Gravel continued, "I am ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it."

Clinton shot back, "I don't know where to start." Then she said the designation "gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran."

Biden, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, soft-pedaled his dissent, challenging not so much the measure's substance, but how President Bush could interpret it.

"Arguably, if we had a different president who abided by the meaning and intent of the laws we pass, I might support this amendment," Biden explained on the Senate floor. "I fear, however, that this president might use the a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit."

Written by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the resolution's final version was toned down considerably from the original text. In negotiations leading up to the vote, Senate Democratic leaders demanded that two paragraphs be deleted, interpreting it as a drumbeat for war.

But the 2002 Iraq authorization still echoes through the Senate chamber, and many Democrats remained wary about opening any more doors for Bush. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), an influential voice on military affairs, warned his colleagues, "This has the danger of becoming a de facto authorization for military force against Iran." Other opponents included GOP Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the senior Republican on the foreign relations committee, and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), a leading Democratic war opponent.

But five Democrats who voted no on Iraq voted yes on Iran: Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.) and Richard Durbin (Ill.) -- Obama's home state colleague. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the co-author of a bill to cut off funding for the Iraq war, also backed the Iran measure. Spokesman Jim Manley said Reid wanted to "signal his concerns about objectionable behavior by the Iranian military."

Further complicating the debate, Obama and Dodd -- along with Clinton -- are among the 68 co-sponsors of a separate bill aimed at curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions. It also urges that the IRGC be designated a foreign terrorist organization.

But that's way too far in the weeds for a presidential race. Leaping at the chance to isolate Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards said in a PBS "NewsHour" interview Wednesday night, "I respect her view, but mine is very different. I think what worries me is, are we going to, six months from now, a year from now, if Bush invades Iran, are we going to hear once again, "If only I'd known then what I know now?"

Obama opened fire in an op-ed Thursday in the Manchester Union-Leader. "On the fifth anniversary of the Senate's vote to authorize an open-ended war in Iraq, we should resolve to never repeat the terrible mistake of launching a misguided war," he wrote. "But unfortunately, the Senate risked doing exactly that when it recently opened the door to an extension and escalation of the ongoing war in Iraq to include military action against Iran."

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer's retort: "If Senator Obama felt so strongly about this resolution, why didn't he speak out against it or vote against it?"

-- Shailagh Murray

By Washington Post Editor  |  October 11, 2007; 7:29 PM ET
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I think it is clear that Hillary is marketing herself as the zionist's and warmonger's Democrat. She envisions an Amercia that will continue combat operations in Iraq till 2013 and she just gave Bush the rhetorical and political cover to kill another boatload of babies in the third world. If people think that a Hillary administration would spell peace they are sadly mistaken, she is an integral part of the Zionist lobby and its desire to dominate and subjugate the middle east.

Posted by: socalcrimatt | October 15, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt Hillary and the Democarpet Leadership have drank the koolaid. They are on a power trip and have no idea what it is costing the country.
The chickens will come home to roost.

As far as the fear mongering over Iran, just look at the source: Christo-zionist fascists, a.k.a. neocons and demicons. They were sure right about Iraq, and that's only costing us $720 million a day.

Posted by: wayoffbaseguy | October 12, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

mplaster writes "Prez Bush does NOT need this Iran vote in order to attack Iran. He would do it with or without it."

You're right that he doesn't 'need' the resolution - which is merely advisory anyway. What the resolution DOES do - as Rep Gravel so eloquently put it - is provide a fig leaf of cover for the President. Now, if he were to order strikes against the IRG, he can point to this resolution and say "see, 76 Senators saw the danger, I am merely acting on their advice." In this effort to burnish her own hawkish credentials, Senator Clinton is supporting more military action in the Mid-East, potentially encluding an expansion of the Iraq conflict into Iran.

Posted by: bsimon | October 12, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

T0 "jpilch': Where do I start (heh heh!) Do you not read any newspapers, blogs, etc. One example is Krauthammer's column in today's Post. There is another "Newspaper" in town whom I sure is valiently attempting to educate people on Sen. Clinton and persuade them to your line of Right thinking. Too bad, people can just be soo wrong minded!

To "mplaster"; My thoughts exactlty.

To dobermantmccleod: Duh, you think? Try the whole country. If this war had gone well, do you think the polls would have been the same as they are now vis a vis approval/disappoval of the War? Hell, I believe Kos himself would have approved of things If it had gone Bushes way.

A. Hardwick

Posted by: ehardwick | October 12, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

In a campaign speech yesterday, Clinton - after calling Barack Obama "naive and irresponsible" for agreeing to meet with the leaders of Iran without preconditions - said she would do exactly the same thing. An astounding flip flop, especially considering Barack Obama's comment gave rise to Hillary's claim that he was inexperienced. Most importantly, by taking Obama's position now, she tacitly admits that her answer at the debate was wrong (as was her vote for the Iraq war and her recent vote calling the Iran guard terrorists).

Yet, not surprisingly, there is no mention of her change of position in your report of the democratic candidates' positions on Iran. But, despite your best efforts to help the Clinton campaign, a pattern is emerging. Unlike Barack Obama who is smart and quick on his feet, Hillary Clinton is not quick - she needs advisors and time (weeks) to form an opinion. Unfortunately for Clinton, our next president may need to defend this country in a matter of minutes. Obama 08.

Posted by: dpack | October 12, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Prez Bush does NOT need this Iran vote in order to attack Iran. He would do it with or without it.
This "issue" amongst the Dems and Hillary has the substance of a piece of straw. And I am afraid that Obama is beginning to sound like a badly-trailing, desparate candidate usually found in the general election with his recent hyperbole. It certainly diminishes his prior "presence" of a thoughtful, rational candidate.

Posted by: mplaster | October 12, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

What a circus...end the war and have done with it...

Posted by: walkerbert | October 12, 2007 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Being a decidedly un-Hillary fan, I find it somewhat difficult to jump hard on someone who has generally been fairly promising. Bit having said that, I also would say that one of most glaring 'lacks' in this the most incompetent administration in US history, is the lack of good judgment.

In his So. Carolina swing Barack Obama made two of the biggest 'blunders' anyone has yet made in this campaign...either side! He led off bu saying he would not use the DOJ to investigate wrongdoing by this administration. Then the very next day in an evangelical church in Charlotte he declared he "wanted to be Gods instrument in the Whitehouse." He further went on to declare that a 'Kingdom' right here on earth was possible!

Errors of political judgment that standout even among the professional morons on capitol hill.

A graphic depicting the whole thing probably sums it as nicely as anything...


Posted by: didereaux | October 12, 2007 5:20 AM | Report abuse

Just like the Iraq resolution, which didn't explicitly call for war with Iraq, the Iranian resolution doesn't explicitly call for a preventative attack on Iran.

Unfortunately, voting for the Iraqi resolution became interpreted as a de facto vote to go to war with Iraq. Considering the past, there is no other way to consider this Iranian resolution but to again consider it a de facto call for war with Iran.

If Hillary wants to split hairs on her Iranian vote, she should remember trying to split hairs on her Iraq vote. Just like the meaningless vote in Congress to declare we didn't intend to permanently occupy Iraq, Senator Clinton's protests that the Iranian vote doesn't authorize military action against Iran is just a smoke screen.

I am force to come to the conclusion that Hillary and most other Democratic office holders are against the Iraq war now because it went bad, not because it is principly wrong to preventatively attack another country (although it is against international law).

That vote by Senator Clinton may come back to haunt her. If we go to war with Iran, with Bush using that Iranian vote as a pretext for Congressional authorization, and the war goes badly (like it probably will, if Iran over-reacts by destroying Saudi oil facilities, or other nasty things to deter us from further using them as a punching bag).

It is beyond belief that Hillary didn't understand that the Iranian resolution she voted for would be used by Bush to start another war, like Cheney & company has been itching to do. The only conclusion I can come to is that she is a warmonger, but isn't willing to take the blame if things go bad.

Posted by: dobermantmacleod | October 12, 2007 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Murray reported what took place at the debate:

"At first the resolution drew little attention. It came up at the Democratic debate in New Hampshire later that night, when long-shot candidate Mike Gravel called it "essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran." Gravel continued, "I am ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it."

Clinton shot back, "I don't know where to start." Then she said the designation "gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran." "

Gravel's exchange with Clinton is telling in more ways than one. Clinton's tart response to Gravel was a moment when Hillary's propensity to feel superior to her peers was exposed. Her voice dripped with condescension as she slowly uttered "I don't know where to start."

She started by implying that engaing in an exchange with Gravel was beneath her. How dare he, the clown of the debates, state that he was ashamed at her for the vote she made in regard to Iran. No, she was shocked that a buffoon like Gravel was on the same stage as her. Like we used to say in high school, "Who the hell does SHE think SHE is!"

Watching Hillary it becomes evident that she resents even having to campaign for the presidency. In her narcissistic mind she is "entitled" to become president. How dare Gravel, Obama, Dodd and the rest of the 7 dwarfs criticize her well though out, and correct, positions on the issues.

She has become drunk on kool-aide that her husband Bill has been giving her for the last 40 years. He has stated that she is the most brilliant woman of her generation, the most competant person to be president and so on.

Her arrogance may be the result of her marriage to Bill who has always known just how to butter people up enough to make them start believing the vain flattery that he dispenses.

Her anger at Gravel, the right wing conspiracy, that poor guy in Iowa this week who refused to back down are all manifestations of her unresolved rage towards Bill and the many others who have attempted to humiliate her. The perverbial chip on her shoulder is tree-sized.

If she is elected my guess is that her leadership style will be one with Nixon's. He was a smart, arrogant guy who could not trust others and felt compelled to destroy those he percieved to be his enemies.

Hillary has too many character flaws to be a good president. It is up to the press, pundits and other opinion makers to expose her vain angry ways.

I hope that someone does- before it is too late.

Posted by: kolp999 | October 11, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: grumpiestoldman | October 11, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

So rat-the what unit are you currently serving with since we are at war?

Posted by: joyousMinn | October 11, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

There was and is no reason to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization because the Guards are a central part of the Iranian state and government and certainly heavily involved in supporting terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and terrorism. But since the U.S. government has rightly declared Iran to be a state sponsor of terrorism, there is absolutely no need to give the Guards the terrorist label--the U.S. government can put any sanction in place designed to hurt the functioning the Iranian state and any of its parts.
Thus, Hillary and everyone else who voted for this resolution that urged Mr. Bush to designate the Guards a terrorist organizations may well have strengthened the administration's hand to use actions against the Guards as a pretense to commence military actions against Iran.
On this, see also,

Posted by: bn1123 | October 11, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Clinton's response to Obama was pretty lame

considering Obama was assured that

the vote wasn't going to happen that night,

and then the senate voted on it last minute.

Hillary probably maneuvered with her cronies

to get the vote held right after Obama left the building.

And to the above poster:

Iran poses virtually no threat to the USA.

"attack us any time" ??? Really? How?

The Iranian govt has no means to attack the USA.

If we declared war on every small time nut job

out there who hated america, we'd be even farther

up the creek than we are in Iraq.

Iran poses a problem in Iraq, as do Syria and Saudi Arabia-

because terrorists have come from all over

the world to fight the USA in iraq.


Might i remind you, the terrorists who

attacked us on 9/11 were SAUDI ARABIAN.

Not Iraqi, not Iranian. Saudi.

Posted by: julieds | October 11, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse


Iran is, and has been, AT WAR WITH US! Just because we do not fear them, THEY have made the declaration, and as such, should feel free to attack us at any time! WE have been told! Any assault by them would be very stupid, BUT, NOT un-anounced!

Now, I think it is WAAAAYYYYY Past time to deal with said STANDING threat!

If Russia or China announced that THEY were at WAR with us, I think we would acknowledge it, and not act like Ostriches!

BTW-As I look at the Photo of the Greecian men's formula Candidates, I have to wonder how many we could get by just turning on a Micro-Wave Oven?!!

Pace-Maker Malfunction Time!

Posted by: rat-the | October 11, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

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