I agree with John Nichols. A few conservative Democrats and AIPAC have eased the way toward an attack on Iran by opposing explicitly confirming that Bush must consult with Congress before military action.
Under pressure from some conservative members of her caucus, and from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) and from lobbyists associated with neoconservative groupings that want war with Iran, Pelosi agreed on Monday to strip the Iran provision from the spending bill that has become the House leadership's primary vehicle for challenging the administration's policies in the region.
One of the chief advocates for eliminating the Iran provision, Nevada Democrat Shelley Berkley, said she wanted it out of the legislation because she wants to maintain the threat of U.S. military action as a tool in seeking to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
"It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran," explained Berkley.
The problem with Berkley's "reasoning" if it can be called that is this: Nothing in the provision that had been included in the spending bill would have prevented Bush from threatening Iran. Nothing in the provision would have prevented war with Iran.
It merely reminded the president that, before launching such an attack, he would need to obey the constitutional requirement that he seek a declaration of war.
By first including the provision and then removing it, Pelosi and her aides have given Bush more of an opening to claim that he does not require congressional approval.