The Republicans who held power in past sessions of Congress ensured that spending bills included language prohibiting federal funding for abortion except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest, and restricting funding for international family planning groups that might give advice on or provide abortions.Does that include our soldiers and Iraqi civilians?
Now in the minority, House and Senate Republicans recently wrote the president urging him to make clear that any weakening of those restrictions would be unacceptable.
"I will veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage," he wrote.
• Michael T. Klare trilogy at Tomdispatch.com:
Today, the Nimitz is rapidly approaching the Persian Gulf, where it will join two other U.S. aircraft carriers and the French carrier Charles De Gaulle in the largest concentration of naval firepower in the region since the launching of the U.S. invasion of Iraq four years ago.And you thought gas was expensive now. Get ready to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.
Why this concentration now? Officially, the Nimitz is on its way to the Gulf to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which is due to return to the United States for crew leave and ship maintenance after months on station. But the U.S. Central Command (Centcom), which exercises command authority over all U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf area, refuses to say when the Eisenhower will actually depart - or even when the Nimitz will arrive.
For a time, at least, the United States will have three carrier battle groups in the region. The USS John C. Stennis is the third. Each carrier is accompanied by a small flotilla of cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and support vessels, many equipped with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs). Minimally, this gives modern meaning to the classic imperial term "gunboat diplomacy," which makes it all the stranger that the deployment of the Nimitz is covered in our media, if at all, as the most minor of news stories. And when the Nimitz sailed off into the Pacific last month on its way to the Gulf, it simply disappeared off media radar screens like some classic "lost patrol."
Meanwhile, negotiations to resolve the impasse with Iran over its pursuit of uranium-enrichment technology - a possible first step to the manufacture of nuclear weapons - continue at the United Nations in New York and in various European capitals. So far, the Iranians have refused to give any ground, claiming that their activities are intended for peaceful uses only and so are permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which it is a signatory. The United States has made vague promises of improved relations if and when Iran terminates its nuclear program, but the full burden of making initial concessions falls on Tehran.
President Bush keeps insisting that he would like to see these "diplomatic" endeavors - as he describes them - succeed, but he has yet to bring up a single proposal or incentive that might offer any realistic prospect of eliciting a positive Iranian response.
And so, knowing that his "diplomatic" efforts are almost certain to fail, Bush may simply be waiting for the day when he can announce to the American people that he has "tried everything"; that "his patience has run out"; and that he can "no longer risk the security of the American people" by "indulging in further fruitless negotiations," thereby allowing the Iranians "to proceed farther down the path of nuclear bomb-making," and so has taken the perilous but necessary step of ordering American forces to conduct air and missile strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. At that point, the 80 planes aboard the Nimitz - and those on the Eisenhower and the Stennis as well - will be on their way to targets in Iran, along with hundreds of TLAMs and a host of other weapons now being assembled in the Gulf.