Weekly Standard's Kristol Calls For Congress To Authorize War With Iran

Blog ››› ››› MIKE BURNS

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, along with Jamie Fly, the Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, has written an article urging Congress to authorize military force against Iran's nuclear program.

Kristol and Fly dismissed diplomacy and sanctions as effective means of deterring Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, arguing instead that "[t]he real and credible threat of force is probably the last hope of persuading the Iranian regime to back down." They added: "So: Isn't it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran's nuclear program?"

Kristol and Fly continued by arguing that if Obama doesn't ask for an Authorization for Use of Military Force, Congress should take action itself. "Instead of running away from it, administration officials could be putting the military option front and center and ensuring it is seen as viable," they wrote. "And if the administration flinches, Congress could consider passing such an authorization anyway."

From Kristol and Fly's article, headlined "No Iranian Nukes":

President Obama says a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. The real and credible threat of force is probably the last hope of persuading the Iranian regime to back down. So: Isn't it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran's nuclear program?

Instead of running away from it, administration officials could be putting the military option front and center and ensuring it is seen as viable. And if the administration flinches, Congress could consider passing such an authorization anyway. While any commander in chief has the constitutional authority to take urgent action to protect Americans and their interests, such legislation would give weight to the president's commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It would strengthen the president's hand. It would show Tehran that America's policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon is a credible one. Bipartisan support for such an authorization would remove the issue as much as possible from the turmoil of election year politics. And the authorization could also make clear that the United States would come to Israel's aid in the event that it decides it needs to take action.

We don't expect the Obama administration to request an Authorization for Use of Military Force. But Congress can act without such a request. By doing so, it would serve the nation's interest, and, indeed, the administration's, if the administration means what it says.

[...]

Surely it is time for a concentration of congressional opinion and force capable of lifting our efforts to the level of emergency. The Obama administration may be committed to leading from behind, but Congress can choose to lead from the front.

An attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay, not put an end to, any nuclear ambitions that Iran might have. Indeed, according to Secretary of Defense and former CIA director Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, an attack would at most delay Iran's nuclear program by a few years.

There is also a potential for significant consequences from a strike on Iran. Meir Dagan, the former director of Israel's national intelligence agency, the Mossad, has said that an Israeli strike on Iran would likely lead to a regional war. And Secretary Panetta, speaking at a November 2011 press briefing, warned that a strike against Iran "could have a serious impact in the region and it could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region."

In the past, Kristol has repeatedly warmongered about Iran. During an April 2010 appearance on Fox News' Special Report, Kristol endorsed striking Iran, saying, "I'd prefer an unstable Middle East without an Iranian nuclear weapon." That same month, in an appearance on Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Kristol advocated the "credible threat of force and the preparation to use force against Iran."

And, of course, Kristol was a leading proponent of the Iraq War. In 1998, Kristol, along with other prominent neoconservatives, sent a letter to President Clinton warning that the policy of containing Iraq is "dangerously inadequate," and that "[t]he only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing."

In February 2002 testimony delivered before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kristol advocated invading Iraq where forces "will be greeted as liberators." In 2003, he and Lawrence Kaplan wrote The War Over Iraq, which explained the reasons for taking down Saddam Hussein. In September 2006, Kristol and National Review's Rich Lowry penned an opinion piece arguing for an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. They wrote:

We are at a crucial moment in Iraq. Supporters of the war, like us, have in the past differed over tactics. But at this urgent pass, there can be no doubt that we need to stop the downward slide in Iraq by securing Baghdad.

There is no mystery as to what can make the crucial difference in the battle of Baghdad: American troops.

In a December 2008 New York Times op-ed, Kristol defended the "success" of the 2007 Iraq War troop surge.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
The Weekly Standard
Person
William Kristol
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