Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
May 23, 2013 at 6:15 AM
The Senate supports an Israeli ‘defensive’ attack against Iran
On Wednesday the U.S. Senate approved, 99-0, Senate Resolution 65 urging the U.S. government to offer “diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel” in the event that Israel’s government “is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
says any help should be “in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force.” Those words weren’t in the resolution at the start, and were added by amendment, I presume, to round up all the Senators’ votes. I’m glad the words were added, because for 65 years, ever since President Truman’s undeclared war in Korea, Congress has inadequately guarded its constitutional prerogatives on war. The resolution also says, “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.”Still, I would have voted “no.”
First of all, the resolution declares that the United States “has a vital national interest in, and unbreakable commitment to, ensuring the existence, survival, and security of the State of Israel,” and I don’t think it does. A commitment, yes. A vital national interest, no. “Vital” comes from the Latin, vita, life, and means necessary for life, or indispensable. Israel is not necessary or indispensable to the United States, even if the United States is necessary or indispensable to Israel.
Secondly, the resolution speaks of Israel being “compelled to take military action.” Who judges whether Israel is compelled? The resolution says nothing about waiting until Iran attacks first, or until an attack is imminent (which it isn’t). The assumption is that Israel will make a preventive attack. And if Israel’s government does that, it will say it was compelled. Is Congress accepting, in advance, a foreign government’s judgment about its own act of war? I think it is.
Regarding the danger of nuclear weapons, remember that several governments in that region already have them. Including Israel’s.