As we approach the centennial of World War I, we will read much of the blunders that produced that tragedy of Western civilization.
Among them will be the "blank check" Kaiser Wilhelm II gave to Vienna after the assassination by a Serb terrorist of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand.
If you decide to punish the Serbs, said the Kaiser, we are with you.
After dithering for weeks, Austria shelled Belgrade. Within a week, Germany and Austria were at war with Russia, France and Great Britain.
Today the Senate is about to vote Israel a virtual blank check -- for war on Iran. Reads Senate bill S.1881:
If Israel is "compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapons program," the United States "should stand with Israel and provide ... diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in the defense of its territory, people and existence."
Inserted in that call for U.S. military action to support an Israeli strike on Iran, S.1881 says that, in doing so, we should follow our laws and constitutional procedures.
Nevertheless, this bill virtually hands over the decision on war to Bibi Netanyahu who is on record saying: "This is 1938. Iran is Germany."
Is this the man we want deciding whether America fights her fifth war in a generation in the Mideast? Do we really want to outsource the decision on war in the Persian Gulf, the gas station of the world, to a Likud regime whose leaders routinely compare Iran to Nazi Germany?
The bill repeatedly asserts that Iran has a "nuclear weapons program."
Yet in both 2007 and 2011, U.S. intelligence declared "with high confidence" that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Where is the Senate's evidence for its claim? Why has Director of National Intelligence James Clapper not been called to testify as to whether Tehran has made the decision to go for a bomb?
Why are the American people being kept in the dark?
Are we being as misled, deceived and lied to about Iran's "weapons of mass destruction," as we were about Iraq's?
The bill says that in a final deal Iran must give up all enrichment of uranium. However, we have already been put on notice by President Hassan Rouhani that this is an ultimatum Iran cannot accept.
Even the reformers of Iran's Green Revolution of 2009 back their country's right to a peaceful nuclear program including enrichment.
Senate bill S.1881 imposes new sanctions if Iran fails to live up to the interim agreement or fails to come to a final agreement in six months.
Yet the Senate knows that Iran has warned that if new sanctions are voted during negotiations, they will walk away from the table.
Why is the Senate risking, or even inviting, a blowup in these talks?
When the interim agreement was reached, it was denounced by neocons as "worse than Munich." Now the War Party piously contends this Senate bill is simply an "insurance policy" to ensure that the terms of the deal are met and a final deal reached.
It is nothing of the sort. This bill is a project of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, designed to sabotage and scuttle the Geneva talks by telling Tehran: Either capitulate and dismantle all your enrichment facilities, or face more severe sanctions which will put us on the road to war.
What terrifies AIPAC and Bibi is not an American war on Iran, but an American rapprochement with Iran.
Who are the leaders of the push for S.1881? Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, the biggest recipients of AIPAC campaign cash.
Last weekend, the Obama National Security Council finally belled the cat with a blunt statement by spokesperson Bernadette Meehan:
"If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action (against Iran), they should be up front with the American public and say so."
Exactly. For whether or not all these senators understand what they are doing, this is where their bill points -- to a scuttling of the Geneva talks and a return to the sanctions road, at the end of which lies a U.S. war with Iran.
A majority of Democratic senators have thus far bravely bucked AIPAC and declined to co-sponsor S.1881. However, all but two Republican senators have signed on.
If, after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the GOP has once again caught the war fever, the party should be quarantined from the White House for another four years.
Press Secretary Jay Carney says that if S.1881 passes, Obama will veto it. The president should tell Congress that not only will he veto it, but that if Israel decides on its own to attack Iran, Israel will be on its own in the subsequent war.
Obama should order U.S. intelligence to tell us the truth.
Is Iran truly hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear bomb? Does Iran have a nuclear bomb program? If so, when did Tehran make that decision?
Or are we being lied into war again?