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Morning Cuppa Provocations

Mine sweepers in LebanonGood morning. Read this and then bring your coffee to the next thread — by about 8:45 EDT.

The photo at left (AP/File/Ramzi Haidar) shows UN minesweepers looking for the thousands of unexploded bomblets the Israelis left in Lebanon during their effort to get rid of a group they and the US regard as “terrorists.” The two nations think it’s okay to do this if the targets are terrorists.

A few weeks back readers here were dismayed when the Senate gave near unanimous approval of a resolution by Senator Lieberman essentially calling Iran an enemy of America. Democrats claimed that softening amendments made the resolution harmless and thus took the cowardly path of a cheap vote against a country that the Administration and its neocon advisors and allies keeping painting as the next desirable battle ground. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Now the Washington Post’s Robin Wright reports the Administration wants to designate as a “special designated global terrorist” organization, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US military in Iraq accuses of supplying arms and training to those killing American troops. The designation then triggers statutes and programs designed to punish and financially isolate so-called terrorist groups. And all this will be done under the guise that “Congress is pressuring the Administration” to take a tougher stand with Iran.

There may once have been some useful role for such designations when used by a more responsible and less belligerent US Administration, but it’s hard to argue that this name calling and the provocation it carries is a good weapon to leave in the arsenal of one of the most war-mongering and irresponsible Administrations in our history. The Bush/Cheney/Rice team has an unfortunately history of applying the designation to inconvenient groups that simply don’t fit its simplistic good versus evil view of the world. These are often groups we should be engaging in regional dialogue and diplomacy instead of threatening and isolating, a policy that tends more to cause innocent suffering and radicalization than the moderation it is supposed to accomplish.

Treating people that way tends to make them angry enough to lob rockets at you, if they didn’t already have an excuse. Designating as terrorist organizations Hamas in Palestine and Hezbolla in Lebanon has not been helpful. If anything, it has served as a pretext for allowing hardcore Israelis to avoid negotiations and carry out military operations, with either the urging or tacit support of the US Government. The results are troubling in every case.

George Bush has been lecturing our friends in Iraq and Afghanistan about how unconstructive a role Iran is playing in Afghantistan and Iraq. This from the man who invaded both countries, and invaded Iraq based on lies and imperialist notions.

More rational leaders think it’s a good idea to sit down and talk with their neighbors. Here’s a picture of what talking looks like when done by our friend, Afghanistan’s President Karzai. Here’s a picture of what it looks like for our friend, Prime Minister al Maliki. And here’s a picture of the consequences of the Bush/Israeli policy in Lebanon. Which is better?

You would think by now that the Democratic Congress would have learned how dangerous it is to give the Bush/Cheney Administration any further discretion or excuse for exacerbating their already belligerent policies in the Middle East. But Congress never seems to get it.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley