Jim Webb Gets It (Updated)

With bucketloads of respect to those who think yesterday’s vote in favor of the Lieberman-Kyl amendment on Iran was foolish politics at worst and meaningless at best, I can’t help but stick with my original reaction. This thing stinks to high heaven. (more)

Jim Webb appears to think so too.

On the Senate floor today, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) made an impassioned appeal to his fellow senators, declaring that the Lieberman-Kyl amendment on Iran should be “withdrawn” because the “proposal is Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream.” Webb cautioned that the “cleverly-worded sense of the Congress” could be “interpreted” to “declare war” on Iran.

He continued:

“Those who regret their vote five years ago to authorize military action in Iraq should think hard before supporting this approach. Because, in my view, it has the same potential to do harm where many are seeking to do good.”

I share Jim Webb’s concern that, given the opportunity, Dick Cheney will not hesitate to use the vote on yesterday’s amendment as part of his justification to attack Iran should that opportunity come to pass. He will not seek formal congressional approval. At the link provided, there is a video of Webb’s remarks, and I would encourage folks to have a look.

I would add that I believe the designation of the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization was the whole point of the exercise and that the addition and subsequent removal of the two paragraphs outlining the explicit use of force was a smokescreen. Joe Lieberman does not strike me as a man who does things for no reason. To me, there is a clear method to the madness.

In fact, I have a feeling there was a telephone conversation in Washington last night that went down something like this:

DC:  Hey there my Lieber-Man, nice job today.
JL:  Always a pleasure and an honor to speak to you Mr. Vice President. Thank you for your kind words.
DC:  Well, as you know, there is still work to be done. But I just wanted to say, your efforts were noticed and appreciated.
JL:  Well, I did have to take out those two paragraphs we talked about. But you were right, they focused on those instead of the key bit. I’m always impressed with your ability to call these things, sir.
DC:  Suck Up – heh heh. Well, the terrorist designation was the key. As I’ve said, that bill without the word terrorist would have been useless as tits on a bull – just like that resolution calling MoveOn a bunch of meanies. Heh heh. Anyway, thanks again.
JL:  Ha, Mr. Vice President, you always could make me…
— click —
JL:  Mr. Vice President? Are you there sir? I think the line went dead…

On balance, I think the amendment was only a small step of the whole Cheney plan. But since it was part of the plan, why oh why did our guys feel the need to play along?

More from the ThinkProgress link:

“At best, it’s a deliberate attempt to divert attention from a failed diplomatic policy,” said Webb. “At worst, it could be read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action, without one hearing and without serious debate.”

I would like to add that I believe attacking Iran is by no means a done deal. But Dick Cheney is playing a game at a higher level than many of our friends in the Senate appear to realize.

Some final words from Webb:

We haven’t had one hearing on this. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee, I’m on the Armed Services Committee. We are about to vote on something that may fundamentally change the way the United States views the Iranian military and we haven’t had one hearing. This is not the way to make foreign policy. It’s not the way to declare war.

In my view, those Senators who voted for this POS Bill are really the ones who should be put on a ‘list’, never mind that silly MoveOn diversion.


UPDATE: Armando notes below a possible confusion given Webb made the remarks before final passage of the Bill. Did he make these remarks before the 2 worst paragraphs were removed? Good question.

His response after the bill indicate he is absolutely worried about the terrorist designation, as below (repeated here):

Webb says that because the Revolutionary Guard is a military arm of the Iranian government, the resolution declaring it a terrorist organization is “tantamount to a declaration of war.”

He is clearly concerned about IDing the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization. If you watch his speech, that comes through loud and clear.

PS – Hopefully NPK and the Big A can see past semantic differences here.


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  1. I know Webb gets heat around these parts and others, but on military matters, the guy knows his stuff. He can smell this stinker a mile away.

    If you happen to be calling your congresscritter regarding their support for the MoveOn Bill, perhaps you could spare a few words for this (real) issue as well.


  2. And I completely disagree with the essays here that are saying that we either have our facts wrong or this amendment is meaningless.

    It is certainly not meaningless to characterize a sovereign nation’s military as a terrorist organization.  How can that mean anything other than saying Iran is our enemy, we have pledged to fight terrorism, Iran is harboring a terrorist organization and thus …?  I simply cannot see it any other way and am tired of arguments trying to parse this as anything but another step towards war, regardless if that is the first or final step.

    There was simply no reason for anyone, Democratic or Republican, to have voted for this amendment.  None.

    Further, it once again becomes a painful realization that there is no real opposition to this criminal misAdministration in our government.  For although there are so many Senators and Congressional representatives who are staunchly opposed to Bush and his crew of clowns, with the present leadership we have in Congress it doesn’t matter – those good folks cannot represent their constituencies – the American people.

    I’m not going to give Webb kudos for saying what every single one of our representatives should be saying — and that is the tragedy of our government today — that saying something as simple as calling a very very bad amendment what it is would be considered remarkable.

    • Armando on September 27, 2007 at 17:44

    which version Webb is commenting on.

    I think it was the original version in which case his remarks are dead on.

    The revised version was bad and should not have come up, but it is impossible to interpret it as authorizing war.

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