Jim Henley of Unqualified Offerings has proposed that Congress should investigate the Bush Administration’s claims that Iran is providing direct support of the Iraqi insurgency. If Congress can then verify the Administration’s claims independently, it should steadfastly back additional action:
If Congress can validate the Administration’s case, the US should then go “the full Adlai Stevenson.” The US operates in Iraq under a security-council mandate (pdf). Iranian intelligence does not. Therefore, the UN Security Council is the appropriate first venue to seek a remedy. This will mean the US government will need to have a more impressive case than Colin Powell’s famous travesty of February 2003. It will need to stand up to independent scrutiny.
After all that, Congress should entertain a Presidential request for a declaration of war, if the Administration determines that it wants to attack Iran in response to demonstrated Iranian aid to Iraqi forces in conflict with American troops. As always, there may be good reasons not to resort to war even in the face of covert support for attacks on US troops deployed abroad. That’s a political determination to be made. But a unilateral executive decision to attack Iran on the basis of unaudited claims merits nothing but opposition. So does a Congressional decision to shirk its responisibilities under the constitution by taking the word of another branch of government, especially in light of the sad history of the last five years.
Hat tip: James Joyner
IMO this suggestion is so sensible and so timely that I can’t imagine Congress proceeding along these lines. It’s a lot more fun making hay at the expense of your political opponents than proving something that alienates your base.
The growing tension between the United States and Iran is, perhaps, the gravest issue ( facing the country right at this moment with the possible exception of Iraq and, if Iran is indeed supplying the insurgency the issues are interconnected. It won’t wait for political posturing. It’s signficantly more urgent than any of the issues tackled in the incoming Congress’s “First 100 Hour” push.
If the Administration’s claims are found to be false, we can hope that the investigation would discourage the Administration from ratcheting up tensions.
If the Administration’s claims are found to be true, the support of the Congress would strengthen the President’s hand in dealing with an enemy whose activities is killing American soldier’s in the field and further destabilizing an already teetering Iraq. That would send a powerful message to Iran’s leaders and would provide more leverage in dealing with Iran than keeping our cards to our vests on what Iran is doing with respect to Iraq possibly could.
If the Administration’s claims are found to be unprovable, at least the Congress would, at last, have exercised its Constitutional responsibilities.
I’ve been quite consistent in my views on Iran: I don’t believe that military action against Iran is in our national interests. But I do believe that some action is long past due and we should act on the basis of national consensus in matters of foreign policy. Both the Congress and the President are the agents of that consensus.
Vigorous and decisive action by Congress in this matter is urgently needed. It would be much better than the street theater we’ve been seeing from it for the last few weeks. Or years.
I’ll be writing my Representative (Rahm Emmanuel) and my Senators (Durbin and Obama) on this matter and I urge you to do the same.