Tonkin Gulf II and the Guns of August?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Daily -- -- " -- -- Is the United States provoking war with
Iran, to begin while the Congress is conveniently on its
One recalls that it was in August 1964, after the
Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, that the Tonkin Gulf
Twice it was said, on Aug. 2 and Aug. 4, North Vietnamese
patrol boats had attacked the U.S. destroyers Maddox and
Turner Joy in international waters. The U.S. Senate
responded by voting 88 to 2 to authorize President Johnson
to assist any Southeast Asian nation whose government was
threatened by communist aggression.
The bombing of the North began, followed by the arrival of
U.S. Marines. America's war was on.
As Congress prepares for its August recess, the probability
of U.S. air strikes on Iran rises with each week. A third
carrier, the USS Enterprise, and its battle group is joining
the Nimitz and Stennis in the largest concentration of U.S.
naval power ever off the coast of Iran.
And Tonkin Gulf II may have already occurred.
In Baghdad, on July 1, Gen. Kevin J. Bergner charged that
Iranians planned the January raid in Karbala, using
commandos in American-style uniforms, that resulted in the
death of five U.S. soldiers.
As the New York Times reports, this "marks the first time
that the United States has charged that Iranian officials
have helped plan operations against American troops in Iraq
and have had advance knowledge of specific attacks that have
led to the death of American soldiers."
The Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is using
Hezbollah to train Shiites to attack our soldiers and
providing them with enhanced IEDs that have killed scores of
U.S. troops, Bergner charged. He says we have captured a
veteran Hezbollah agent and documents pointing to direct
Iranian complicity in the Karbala raid.
Iran has denounced the charge as "ridiculous." But the
Senate has voted 97-0 to censure Iran for complicity in
killing the Americans.
If what Bergner alleges is true, President Bush has not only
the right but appears to have the blessing of Congress to
attack Iran. And he now has the naval and air forces at
hand. What is stopping him?
For it is surely not Congress, which buried a resolution
last spring declaring that Bush must come to Congress before
taking us into a new war in the Middle East. Congress
appears to be signaling Bush: "If you want to hit Iran, you
have the green light. No need to consult us."
Is this yet another abdication by Congress of its moral and
constitutional duty to decide when and whether America goes
And something smells awfully fishy here.
Iran has no interest in a war with the United States, which
it seems to be toying with. Iran supports the pro-American
Shia regime in Baghdad. And the al-Qaida umbrella group in
Iraq, which is our mortal enemy, has just warned Iran it
faces terror attacks if it does not stop supporting Shiites
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who leads the al-Qaida group known as
the Islamic State in Iraq, says his fighters have been
preparing for four years for war on Iran:
"We are giving the Persians, and especially the rulers of
Iran, a two-month period to end all kinds of support for the
Iraqi Shiite government and to stop direct and indirect
intervention – otherwise a severe war is waiting for you,"
al-Baghdadi said in a 50-minute videotape.
Al-Baghdadi also warned Arab Sunnis in the region who do
business with Shiites in Iran that they were inviting
Query: If Iran's ally, the Maliki government, is our ally,
and if Iran's enemy, al-Qaida in Iraq, is our enemy, why
would Iran use the Quds Force to attack Americans and risk
Killing Americans in Iraq is not going to defeat the United
States. But it could trigger heavy U.S. retaliation, not
only on the Quds Force, but on Iran's nuclear facilities –
and a war with the United States. Yet Iran's diplomatic
behavior suggests it wishes to avoid such a war.
Another explanation comes to mind. Iran is not initiating,
but is responding to U.S.-inspired attacks inside Iran, in
the Kurdish north, the Arab southwest and the Baluchi
southeast of its country. Was Karbala an attempted
kidnapping to exchange U.S. soldiers for the five Iranian
"diplomats" we are holding?
Has Bush secretly authorized covert attacks inside Iran? Are
U.S. and Israeli agents in Kurdistan behind the attacks
across the border to provoke Iran? On July 11, Iranian
troops clashed with Kurd rebels inside Iran, and the
Iranians fired artillery back into Iraq.
Why is Congress going on vacation? Why are a
Democratic-controlled House and Senate not asking these
questions in public hearings? Why is Congress letting Bush
and Vice President Cheney decide whether we launch a third
war in the Middle East?
Or is Congress in on it?
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