Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Webb attempts to help Condi Rice with a question

with 2 comments

He carefully points out, since she’s struggling, that the question’s answer is either “yes” or “no.” She continues to struggle.

A couple weeks ago, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) asked Secretary Condoleezza Rice if the administration thought President Bush had the power to take military action against Iran without permission from Congress.

She deferred an answer, saying, “I’m really loathe to get into questions of the president’s authorities without a rather more clear understanding of what we are actually talking about. So let me answer you, in fact, in writing. I think that would be the best thing to do.”

Well, it’s been two weeks, and Sen. Webb is still waiting. So he’s asked again, in a letter sent to Rice yesterday. To help speed a response, he even suggested the range of answers she might provide: “This is, basically, a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question regarding an urgent matter affecting our nation’s foreign policy.”

And to ensure that the administration got the message that Webb remained interested, he also asked the question of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte during this morning’s hearing.

The full text of the letter is below.

January 29, 2007

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

During your appearance before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 11, 2007, I asked you a question pertaining to the administration’s policy regarding possible military action against Iran. I asked, “Is it the position of this administration that it possesses the authority to take unilateral action against Iran, in the absence of a direct threat, without congressional approval?”

At that time you were loath to discuss questions of presidential authority, but you committed to provide a written answer. Since I have not yet received a reply, the purpose of this letter is to reiterate my interest in your response.

This is, basically, a “yes” or “no” question regarding an urgent matter affecting our nation’s foreign policy. Remarks made by members of this administration strongly suggest that the administration wrongly believes that the 2002 joint resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq can be applied in other instances, such as in the case of Iran. I, as well as the American people, would benefit by fully understanding the administration’s unequivocal response.

I would appreciate your expeditious reply and look forward to discussing this issue with you in the near future.


James Webb
United States Senator

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 6:41 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Well, Webb is posturing here, and he knows it. Basically, he is trying to tie the hands of the Administration to prevent it from taking any action to keep the Persian Fuhrer and his Revolutionary Guards Corps buddies from getting the atomic bomb. Rice was wise to demur, in order to give the Executive maximum freedom of action against a demonstrably hostile power. Recently, Central Command all but concluded that a unit trained by the IRGC’s Quds Force was responsible for the kidnapping and execution-style slayings of four of our officers in Karbala. The Iranians will be making several agressive moves in the coming weeks to maintain their connections and status in Iraq.

    What will become apparent for the Iranians, however, is the fact that the Iraqi Shi’a are Arab, while most of the Iranians are Persian. Iran’s grand strategy will founder on ethnicity, as ours has. Iraq is the burial ground of ambition. Ask Marcus Crassus.

    Ahmadhi-Nejad is attempting to stay on the offensive while Bush is trying to keep the military option on the table. Were we to take the option off the table, Ahmadhi-Nejad’s position, relative to, say, Rafsanjani and other Tehran mafiosi, would strengthen. He is in no mood to compromise, surrounded as he is by “triumphalist” colonels and holding clients in the Council of Guardians. But his anger betrays weakness, something I don’t see too many Dems recognizing.

    Rice is playing a very long game, and has successfully beaten back the “Faster Please” caucus surrounding Dick Cheney and, until recently, Don Rumsfeld. What liberals don’t appear to understand is that the U.S. has adopted a defensive posture, building an ethnic Arab coaliton to disrupt the Persian expansionism of the Ahmadhi-Nejad government. That’s what explains the buildup. The notion that we are going to war now, especially given the rising difficulties facing Ahmadhi-Nejad, is laughable.

    For example, Hezboallah in Lebanon is in a lot worse shape politically than it was six months ago. It is generally regarded among the Sunnis as a Persian stooge, despite its success against the IDF (which was more apparent than real). Siniora is still in power in Beirut. Meantime, inflation and shortages have wrecked A/N’s popularity among the working classes in Iran itself.

    Rice understood that we had more time than the “attack now” caucus ever believed. There are those in Iran who do want a relationship with the West. The present leadership is not open to change, however. A subsequent leadership will be. And that makes all the difference. George Friedman pointed this out in his take on the war in Stratfor: neither side can get its maximalist aims. There will, of needs be, have to be a settlement.

    Meantime, Webb can posture.


    31 January 2007 at 10:51 am

  2. My response to the comment above can be found here.


    31 January 2007 at 3:45 pm

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