New Senate Push for Iran War Red Lines as Netanyahu Ups Pressure
A push to impose "red lines" on the President for war with Iran may be brought up today before the Senate adjourns.
Washington, DC - Some in the Senate are renewing their push to impose “red lines” on the President for war with Iran.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a motion to consider several measures, including a Joint Resolution sponsored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) that would convey Congressional support for military action to prevent Iran from achieving “nuclear weapons capability.”
The measure contradicts President Obama’s policy that he would take military action if Iran were on the verge of actually acquiring a nuclear weapon, not a theoretical capability. The Administration has sparred with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the refusal to commit the U.S. to military action based on “nuclear weapons capability” -- which many nonproliferation experts argue Iran technically achieved some time ago.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Foreign Policy Magazine, “Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the call for deadlines to be imposed on U.S. policy.
The Administration’s comments earned a rebuke from Netanyahu. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” said the Prime Minister, which many interpreted as a threat that Israel would strike Iran if the U.S. does not agree to the red line.
The Administration previously resisted pressure to adopt the red line in March, when a similar resolution was heavily lobbied for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to the White House. That measure was tacitly rebuffed by the President at the annual AIPAC conference, where he stated that his red line was Iran building a weapon, not building a capability. The President later told reporters, “This is not a game. There’s nothing casual about it. And when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk...it indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.”
But recently, Senator Graham reintroduced the resolution with a clause that it was not an authorization for war. He also restructured it from a simple sense of Congress to a Joint Resolution, which according to Senate aids means it would go to the White House for signature--representing an damaging split on U.S. national security policy between the President on one hand, and Congress and Netanyahu on the other.
The measure was blocked yesterday on the Senate floor as part of an unrelated disagreement regarding funding bills, but could be brought up as soon as today before the Senate adjourns.
UPDATE: Senator Rand Paul is circulating a letter opposing S.J.Res.41 calling it "a vote for the concept of pre-emptive war."