Opinion: Congress is about to pour lighter fluid on Iran

 

There's a great deal of support for two resolutions that, if approved, would all but strike the match on war.

 

By WILLIAM O. BEEMAN

 

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/27836054.html?elr=KArksc8P:Pc:U0ckkD:aEyKUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiU

 

The U.S. Congress may inadvertently lay the foundations for war against Iran when it reconvenes in Washington this month.

 

Two essentially identical nonbinding resolutions call upon President Bush to "immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities."

 

The House resolution has more than 200 cosponsors, including Minnesota Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Jim Ramstad. The Senate resolution has more than 30 cosponsors, including both Minnesota senators, Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.

 

The methods for increased pressure differ slightly in the two resolutions. The House resolution calls for "stringent inspection requirements" of all goods entering or leaving Iran. The Senate resolution does not call for the inspection of all goods but joins the House resolution in calling for an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran, which lacks the refining capacity to meet its need for gasoline. Achieving either goal would require a naval blockade -- a de facto act of war on the part of the United States, though paradoxically both resolutions explicitly exclude authorization for military action.

 

Other provisions call for an economic embargo of banking operations, with the House resolution adding a prohibition of international movement on the part of Iranian officials.

 

Both resolutions have begun to cause alarm throughout the United States, and have caused several representatives to withdraw their cosponsorships. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., summed up the concerns in an article for the Huffington Post: "It is clear that despite carefully worded language in H. Con. Res. 362 that 'nothing in this resolution should be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran' that many Americans across the country continue to express real concerns that sections of this resolution will be interpreted by President Bush as 'a green light' to use force against Iran."