Why is Congress Playing into Khamenei’s Hands?

John McCain (photo below, right) knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to force an armed confrontation with Iran. That’s why his International Republican Institute has been covertly fomenting trouble there. That’s why he is criticizing President Obama’s cautious response to the demonstrations. But I wonder how many other members of Congress realize what they are doing.mccain

Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions expressing support for protesting Iranian citizens “who embrace freedom.” What a stupid (or evil?) thing to do! Some members of Congress might be cowardly or ignorant (or both), but I am convinced that others are being clever in the most diabolical way.

The resolutions were initiated by Republicans, who took advantage of the occasion to portray the President as a “weak sister.” But Democrats overwhelmingly supported them. I wonder why. Perhaps the Democrats are afraid of appearing “weak on national defense.” Surely, they are not – like McCain and the other warmongers – trying to sabotage any hope of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s perceived development of nuclear weapons. Surely, they do not want a third war?

But what else is there to gain from this kind of provocation? By inserting America into the dispute, Congress has undermined the credibility of the demonstrations and given the Iranian Government an excuse to launch a bloody assault on the demonstrators. And that’s exactly what the President has been trying to avoid.

Iranian authorities already are blaming the United States for the demonstrations, and will probably use that excuse for cracking down on protesters (who, incidentally, are protesting against an election they consider rigged – not embracing “freedom”). State-run television in Iran Thursday night aired confessions from people who authorities say were paid to destabilize Iran. These “terrorists” said the United States paid them to come from Iraq to Iran for that purpose.

khameneiAccording to CNN, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo at left) “drew a line in the sand” during his sermon on Friday. He warned the crowds protesting last week’s presidential vote that authorities will not put up with “extremist” demonstrations. “If the political elite want to ignore and break the law ….  they will be held accountable for all the violence and blood and rioting,” he is quoted as saying.

Human rights monitor Amnesty International says Khamenei’s sermon “indicates the authorities’ readiness to launch violent crackdowns if people continue to protest, which may cause a widespread loss of life.” Here’s what Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program, had to say:

We are extremely disturbed at statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei which seem to give the green light to security forces to violently handle protesters exercising their right to demonstrate and express their views. If large numbers of people take to the street in protests in the next couple of days, we fear that they will face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force, as has happened in recent days.

If that happens, then what? Will the United States be drawn into another war? And how would Russia react to a U.S. attack on Iran? I wonder whether the members of Congress thought about that before voting for their macho resolutions.