‘This has to be called escalation

The Left Coaster's new military affairs contributor USAF Col. Sam Gardiner (ret.) starts off his blogging with a disturbing account of the US actions aimed at Iran, Pieces in Place for Escalation

The pieces are moving. They'll be in place by the end of February. The United States will be able to escalate military operations against Iran.

The second carrier strike group leaves the U.S. west coast on Tuesday. It will be joined by naval mine clearing assets from both the United States and the UK. Patriot missile defense systems have also been ordered to deploy to the Gulf.

Maybe as a guard against North Korea seeing operations focused on Iran as a chance to be aggressive, a squadron of F-117 stealth fighters has just been deployed to Korea.

This has to be called escalation.

There's lots more, including this:

As one of the last steps before a strike, we’ll see USAF tankers moved to unusual places, like Bulgaria. These will be used to refuel the US-based B-2 bombers on their strike missions into Iran. When that happens, we’ll only be days away from a strike.

The White House could be telling the truth. Maybe there are no plans to take Iran to the next level. The fuel for a fire is in place, however. All we need is a spark. The danger is that we have created conditions that could lead to a Greater Middle East War.

Is there no one in the GOP who can shake some sense into the madmen in the White House?

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6 Responses to ‘This has to be called escalation

  1. JimPortlandOR says:

    It appears that VP Cheney, aided by the cabal in his office and his tribe throughout the government are active in this push to ‘deal’ with Iran, and their kind of deal is not diplomacy, but military action.

    Cheney’s real extent of power is hidden, since they don’t brag about the control or influence they have had since 9/11. But no one doubts that they have power and they exercise it generously.

    So this brings up the question, short of impeachment of Cheney, is there anything Congress could do to limit his authority? The Constitution speaks only of his role as President of the Senate. Presidents over time have given more or less (usually less) power to their Veeps, but the tendency is toward more. Cheney is super-more.

    Could the Congress defund his staff, exepting maybe a secretary or three, and prohibit federal employees being detailed to his office or funding from other agencies transferred to maintain his activities?

    Could they require the President to submit any task that he wants to assign to the VP to only being effective if both Houses pass a resolution of acceptance to the President’s formal request in writing?

    Could they pass a resolution or law saying that the VP is without authority to request and department or agency to do something? Could they forbid the VP from asking for a department or agency from attending to requests or orders of the VP?

    Coudl the Congress require that the VP document actions that he takes and agencies that he interacts with?

    How can a out-of-control, hidden government within the government led by the VP be reigned in?

    We have a VP that probably couldn’t be impeached on factual evidence, because he leaves no paper trails and is completely accountable for his actions. Is there no remedy for this VP palace coup functioning with a sound asleep President?

  2. Michael says:

    Some good questions here. Allow me some off-the-cuff guesses to the answers:

    So this brings up the question, short of impeachment of Cheney, is there anything Congress could do to limit his authority? The Constitution speaks only of his role as President of the Senate. Presidents over time have given more or less (usually less) power to their Veeps, but the tendency is toward more. Cheney is super-more.

    Could the Congress defund his staff, exepting maybe a secretary or three, and prohibit federal employees being detailed to his office or funding from other agencies transferred to maintain his activities?

    There’s no question that the Congress can defund any staff other than the Veep himself. But if Bush wanted to lend some of this staff to make up the shortfall, it’s not clear to me how you stop that as a practical matter.

    Could they require the President to submit any task that he wants to assign to the VP to only being effective if both Houses pass a resolution of acceptance to the President’s formal request in writing?

    Don’t think so, for two sets of reasons. Congress can give the President authority that he may not delegate; it can give him authority that can only be delegated to certain officials. But little of what Cheney does is of the programmatic sort. It’s mostly policy. And for that sort of work, all it would take is to have Cheney draft the memo and Bush sign it. Same outcome.

    Could they pass a resolution or law saying that the VP is without authority to request and department or agency to do something?

    Sure. But that’s mostly already the case — the authority is the President’s. And thus all you would do is make the President initial an “approved” box on the paper going around anyway. (And to the extent that the authority is informal — having like-minded lieutenants in high places, that won’t change anyway.)

    Could they forbid the VP from asking for a department or agency from attending to requests or orders of the VP?

    Forbid the veep from asking? I doubt it. Forbid agency from following it? In some cases where reasoned decisions are required — but that is already the rule; but in cases where officials have discretion that’s a sort of black box. We don’t have the tools to tell how they made up their minds.

    In any case “agencies” are not in the main the issue – the real power is over white house staff, not agency staff.

    Could the Congress require that the VP document actions that he takes and agencies that he interacts with?

    I doubt it. But it certainly could require that the agencies (and even maybe white house staff too, subject to the nebulous and generally wrong-headed but powerful doctrine of ‘executive privilege’) document their contacts with the Veep.

  3. JimPortlandOR says:

    Thanks Michael. Sounds like we have a huge hole of accountability and hidden power hidden away in the Constitution. I’m truly concerned that ‘Cheney’s people’ in State, DoD, CIA, NSA, DoJ, EOP, etc. are taking direction from an official, the VP, that formally only has power to preside in the Senate. In effect we have two CEOs of the executive branch.

    It sounds like the best that could be done is attempt to get executive branch agencies to document their interactions with the VP and staff, and surely Bush would overrule (signing statement) that requirement even if legislation requiring that were passed by 2/3 over a Presidential veto.

    The reason I asked these questions is probably obvious: Cheney is a government onto himself and that is dangerous to the extreme. Perhaps worse, I’d sure hate to impeach and oust Bush and then have Cheney take over – and I’m not sure how to get Cheney on high crimes and misdemeanors if everthing he does is hidden and not documented.

    Clearly the founders did not anticipate a rogue VP that the President either agrees with in general, doesn’t care to supervise, or is unable to control (probably the later). I suspect Bush doesn’t know even a fraction of the stuff Cheney and his tribe have done and are doing.

    So, this is an interest academic situation, but also a very practical danger to the country.

  4. Michael says:

    Cheney’s power is entirely the result of Bush’s decisions or failures to decide. The buck still stops there.

    But I don’t think it’s a constitutional issue – it’s political. The next President will not be constrained by these precedents and has no legal obligation to give the next veep any power, as might be the case if this were constitutional.

  5. Patrick (G) says:

    Two unprovoked wars in 4 years. 3 wars at the same time when everybody knows that our military doctrine calls for the ability to be able to fight TWO wars at the same time, and when anybody with half a brain knows that our troops in BOTH theatres are overextended and flagging.

    Not Good.

  6. anon says:

    For a blog suddenly chock-full-o’ middleast policy wisdom (what’s next, NFL picks?), you haven’t much articulated how you integrate Iranian realities into your assesments.

    M.Froomkin on American leadership’s willingness to prevent a middleast Holocaust:
    “madmen in the White House”

    Ahmadinejad on Peace, Love, and Harmony:
    “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”
    “Remove Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations.”
    “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land. As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”
    “If the West does not support Israel, this regime will be toppled. As it has lost its raison d’ tre, Israel will be annihilated.”
    “Israel is a tyrannical regime that will one day will be destroyed.”
    “Israel is a rotten, dried tree that will be annihilated in one storm.”

    Iranian financed rockets rain down on Israel daily. Iranian backed Syria is destorying Lebanon. Take a break from your British tabloids one day and read the Israeli daily papers.

    Maybe a few American leaders want to neutralize the Iranian threat before its too late. Maybe they don’t want to be remembered by history as having done nothing to avoid a Holocaust. Maybe there is actually an adult world out there, where people live and die and wars are actually fought for reasons other than the juvenile excitement of blowing things up.

    But even if Israel’s problem isn’t America’s, how can anyone rationally argue that economic chaos here and in Europe wouldn’t follow the creation of an Iranian Islamofascist empire?

    Strange way you have of defining a madman.

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