But one thing should be kept in mind. This debate is not just about the war we're in now. It's also about the one we're about to have with Iran. With each passing week, the Bush administration is ratcheting up the rationales for attacking Iran. While administration officials continue to deny that they are trying to provoke a war, their actions speak otherwise.
Two London papers, the Guardian and the Independent, reported last week that planning for an attack on Iran has been ongoing for months. A list of nuclear sites in Iran to be bombed has been prepared. The military assets to carry out the attacks are being moved into the region.
One U.S. Navy carrier group, led by the USS Eisenhower, is in the Persian Gulf. Another, led by the USS John Stennis, is on the way, and perhaps a third will join them. Extra Patriot missile batteries have been sent to the region, as well as more minesweepers. It's the heaviest concentration of naval might in the Gulf since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003.
At the same time, new contingents of U.S. Air Force planes and personnel are being deployed to forward air bases in Bulgaria and Romania. Other U.S. air bases in Europe and the Middle East are at heightened state of alert.
The Guardian said an attack
For Iraq, the threat of Saddam Hussein possessing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons was the main selling point for an attack.
The same line is being sold for an attack on Iran, except that unlike Iraq, Iran is actually conducting nuclear research -- which it is legally entitled to do under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But most military experts believe Iran is at least a decade away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.
Playing the nuclear card won't work, especially now that we know that virtually everything the Bush administration said about Iraq's military capabilities was a lie. Instead, the administration is trying to make the case that the Iranians are meddling in Iraq and endangering U.S. forces there.
As Paul Krugman pointed out in The New York Times this week, "if you can claim that Iran is doing evil there, you can assert that you don't need authorization to attack -- that Congress has already empowered the administration to do whatever is necessary to stabilize Iraq. And by the time the lawyers are finished arguing -- well, the war would be in full swing."
An attack on Iran has long been a high priority for the Bush administration. President Bush and Vice President Cheney have made it clear that they will do whatever they want in Iraq, regardless of what Congress or the American people say.
At the same time, they know that the only way the United States can get away with bombing Iran is to tie the Iranians to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. That's why any discussion about the U.S. role in Iraq leads directly to the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran.
Congress has to do everything in its power to not only block the president's escalation of the Iraq war, but to stop him from widening that war to Iran. It must go on record now as stating that an attack on Iran is not in our nation's best interest and it will not authorize money for military action there.
Too many Americans were fooled into supporting an invasion of Iraq. We can't allow the president to do the same thing to justify an attack on Iran -- an attack that would be a catastrophe for the United States beyond anything we've seen so far in Iraq.