This past weekend, Bill Kristol came out and said the President should seek an authorization for war with Iran from Congress. It’s no surprise that Kristol and friends have ratcheted up their rhetoric in the days ahead of critical negotiations with Iran that the pro-war hawks hope will go badly.
Given a chance to weigh in on Kristol’s comments on Face the Nation, Mitt Romney doubled down.
Romney said the President already has the “capacity” to go to war with Iran right now–without need for further Congressional approval.
“I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m President, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate, for instance, have written letters to the President indicating you should know that– that a– a containment strategy is unacceptable.”
Romney apparently believes that if a few Senators write letters saying containment is unacceptable, you’ve got your war authorization.
While that may not hold up in court, the House has indeed passed an AIPAC-supported resolution ruling out containment of a “nuclear weapons capable” Iran. NIAC warned that Congress was giving the current or future occupant of the White House a “blank check” for war. When the resolution came up for a vote, the top Democrat on House Foreign Affairs took time on the House floor to state on the record that it is NOT an authorization for force and the President would need to seek such authorization from Congress before waging war on Iran. The statement convinced some Members concerned about an Iraq rerun to get off the fence and vote for the resolution. It is unclear if it convinced Obama that the President can’t go to war with Iran just yet–but Romney clearly was not convinced.That same resolution was held up in the Senate due to similar concerns that it would be misconstrued as authorizing war. It was blocked by Rand Paul (R-KY), who demanded explicit language that it is NOT a war authorization. Folks like Lieberman and Graham said such concerns were just silly–who would claim this was an authorization for war? Well apparently Mitt Romney, that’s who.
The resolution has since been re-introduced with language explicitly stating it does not authorize war and several subsequent measures have included language with the same important clarification, as called for groups opposing war with Iran. But whether Romney, or Obama for that matter, is paying attention to anything besides the Congressional pressure for escalation remains to be seen.
The transcript from the Romney interview concerning Iran is below.
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BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me turn to foreign policy. And Bill Kristol writing in The Weekly Standard this week, says, “We are reaching the time of consequence in our dealing with Iran on nuclear weapons.” He says it is time for the President to go to the Congress and say, “I want you to authorize me to be able to use military force, if that becomes necessary. And he says if the President is not willing to do that, then the Congress should do it– themselves. What’s your take on that?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I– I can understand the reason for his– his recommendation and his concern. I think he’s recognized that this President has communicated in some respects that, well, he might even be more worried about Israel taking direct military action than he is about Iran becoming nuclear. That’s the opinion of some who watch this. And so, he wants the President to take action that shows that a military– excuse me, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. And I– and I believe it’s important for us to communicate that. I can assure you if I’m President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I– I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m President, that we need to have war powers approval or a special authorization for military force. The President has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate, for instance, have written letters to the President indicating you should know that– that a– a containment strategy is unacceptable. We cannot survive a– a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran, and we must be willing to take any and all action, they must all– all those actions must be on the table.