Deja Vu

Cross-posted at PoliTits.

In his own words. President Bush

From a March 2002 White House Press Conference

Q Vice President Cheney is on the road now trying to build support for possible action against Iraq. If you don't get that, down the road you decide you want to take action, would you take action against Iraq unilaterally?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things I've said to our friends is that we will consult, that we will share our views of how to make the world more safe. In regards to Iraq, we're doing just that. Every world leader that comes to see me, I explain our concerns about a nation which is not conforming to agreements that it made in the past; a nation which has gassed her people in the past; a nation which has weapons of
mass destruction and apparently is not afraid to use them.

And so one of the -- what the Vice President is doing is he's reminding people about this danger, and that we need to work in concert to confront this danger. Again, all options are on the table, and -- but one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction. They've agreed not to have those weapons; they ought to conform to their agreement, comply with their agreement.

Yes, John.

Q It seems to me -- you seem to be saying, yes, you would consult with the allies and others, including in the Mideast, but if you had to, you'd go ahead and take action yourself.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're answering the question for me. If I can remember the exact words, I'll say it exactly the way I said it before. We are going to consult. I am deeply concerned about Iraq. And so should the American people be concerned about Iraq. And so should people who love freedom be concerned about Iraq.

This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons; a man who won't let inspectors into the country; a man who's obviously got something to hide. And he is a problem, and we're going to deal with him. But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that's exactly what we're doing.

But not all options were on the table. The one option that the Bush Administration refused to exercise was diplomacy. And that has been disasterous in oh so many ways.

And now as we set our sights on Iran, it's deja vu all over again.

From Reuters, January 28, 2007.

By deploying a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf the United States has sent a "strong signal" that it is in the region to stay and working with allies to deal with an Iranian threat, Vice President Dick Cheney said.

He repeated the Bush administration's stance that the United States seeks to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program through diplomatic means, but that all options are on the table.

"I think most of the nations in that part of the world believe their security is supported, if you will, by the United States. They want us to have a major presence there," Cheney said in an interview with Newsweek magazine, according to a transcript released by the White House on Sunday.

"When we -- as the president did, for example, recently -- deploy another aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf, that sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat," Cheney said.

The United States suspects Iran's nuclear program is a cover for developing weapons and pressed the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against Tehran in December.

Iran recently issued conflicting signals on its nuclear program, with an Iranian nuclear official this weekend denying a statement by a parliamentarian that the country had begun installing 3,000 new atomic centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

The United States has also accused Iran of fueling instability in Iraq, and President George W. Bush on Friday warned Iranians that they would be stopped if they attacked U.S. or Iraqi forces inside Iraq.

Cheney, asked whether he could see a scenario in which there were air strikes on Iran, replied: "I'm not going to speculate about ... security action."

The United States was "doing what we can to try to resolve issues such as the nuclear question diplomatically through the United Nations, but we've also made it clear that we haven't taken any options off the table," he said.

What diplomatic efforts are we really making with Iran?

From ThinkProgress, here's what we were doing in
February 2005. Not helpful.

During his confirmation hearing, new U.S. Commander in the Middle East Admiral William Fallon,
....he will focus on regional diplomacy and carrying out President Bush’s new Iraq plan, which calls for an American troop surge to help Iraqi forces reduce violence-wracked Baghdad neighborhoods.

Fallon says he wants to meet with regional governments to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s influence in Iraq.

He never comes right out and says that he will meet with Iran.
Historically, Iran and Iraq have been regional rivals. Fallon said that “Iranian activity, particularly regarding Iraq, has not been helpful to date.”

Iran’s support for terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons, “is destabilizing and troubling,” Fallon said. “I would welcome steps by the … Iranian government that would indicate they really are interested in helping the situation. To date, I haven’t seen that.”

Fallon said he intends to meet with regional governments and to work closely with diplomats to address Iran’s actions.

“There’s a lot that isn’t being done,” Fallon said. “In fact, I see an awful lot of sitting, watching by the ‘neighborhood.’ And it’s high time that changed. So I would be very anxious to try to engage and intend to engage with our State Department, Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice and her folks, to have a full understanding of this. And then maybe we can figure out collectively how to proceed.”

In written testimony to the Senate committee, Fallon said, “I sense that our allies in the region are more concerned about the potential threat posed by Iran now than at any time since the Iran-Iraq War.”

He said “Iran’s political system is slowly changing as its people increasingly participate in representative processes. However, the unelected institutions of the Iranian regime are well entrenched, hold the preponderance of political power in Iran, and control of Iran’s military forces and intelligence services.”

In all these words, still no confirmation that the United States will actually meet with the Iranians.

Our past refusal to talk to our enemies has been a terrible mistake and
our soldiers and the Iraqi people are paying for it now. This lack of diplomacy has done nothing short of ensuring that every conflict we have culminates in violence. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute writes that we must find other solutions outside the military option.

Congress must act and not allow this Administration to mire us more deeply into an all out regional war.

It's time for Congress to demonstrate what it means to say "all options are on the table."



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