Rep. McDermott: Is Israel Prepping Iran Attack?

Editor's Note: The following are remarks made on the floor of the House of Representatives by Jim McDermott (D-WA).

Mr. Speaker --

It says something about tensions in the world today when the first thing I want to enter into the Record is a reminder of my strong and long standing commitment to the defense of Israel, the safety and security of the Jewish people and the absolute right of Israel to exist.

I offer this preamble because I also want to say that I am deeply troubled by news reports around the world today that Israel recently conducted a major military exercise in what many military analysts see as training for a possible strike against Iran.

The United States supplies Israel with billions of dollars in military hardware, training and intelligence, and I believe it is both appropriate and urgent for the U.S. to raise questions about their intentions and to aggressively pursue diplomacy in the region.

We have made such a mess of things in Iraq that it is hard to believe that any nation thinks war in can achieve peace.

News reports say Israel conducted a massive military exercise in plain sight to send signals to the United States, Europe and Iran that Israel was prepared to launch a massive military strike against targets across Iran, if diplomatic efforts to halt or delay its nuclear program failed.

Almost immediately, Iran retaliated in the press, saying any attack against its proud nation with a strong military capability would be met with an equally massive counter-offensive. And the media reminds us that Iran has just taken delivery of accurate Russian-made surface to air missiles.

We are edging perilously close to a hair trigger moment, when someone, somewhere, will do something that turns saber rattling into a provocative military confrontation and we will be at war again on a new front. I'm deeply worried.

There are those who would have us believe that U.S. military superiority ultimately trumps any nation, any force.

We are the most powerful military nation on earth, but with power comes responsibility, accountability and leadership.

For all the guns and bombs and missiles we have at our disposal, history is replete with failed policies and missions and dubious figureheads we have propped up against the will of the people and any rational approach to U.S. foreign policy.

This includes the history of U.S. secret involvement in Iran in the 1950s, when we and the British worked to overthrow and replace Iran's elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, and install the Shah of Iran, who we kept in office as our direct pipeline to Iran's oil wealth.

As the most powerful nation on earth, you would think that we could do a lot more to prevent war than simply wring our hands while we read the newspapers. And I think we can.

First, I think we have to abandon the notion that all U.S. foreign policy begins and ends behind the butt of a gun. Some will stand up and say, well, that's just Jim McDermott, the doctor, who believes that you don't have to use guns to fight for peace.

Well, I have some company.

I would like to enter into the Record a story carried earlier this week in the Asia Times.

It reports on the first conference held by the Center for a New American Security. Ambassador James Dobbins, who was special envoy to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo under President Clinton, and Special Envoy to Afghanistan under the current President, George W. Bush, said this about U.S. policy toward Iran:

"I reject the theory that the implicit threat of force is a necessary prerequisite to successful diplomacy."

Let me read from the news story:
"Looking back on 40 years of U.S. diplomacy, Dobbins, now director of the Rand International Security and Defense Policy Center, concluded that the conventional wisdom about the need to back up diplomacy with adversaries with force is wrong.
"I can say that most of it was not conducted against a background of threat of force," said Dobbins, and when the threat of force was introduced, 'diplomacy failed'.
"In a line that got applause from the more than 750 people attending the conference, Dobbins said his solution was to 'deal with Iran'."
I urge everyone to read the entire story.

And I urge the Administration and Congress to start asking tough questions, and demanding straight answers, while there is still time.

Thank you.
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