Feb. 25, 2007: Rice, Levin Hint at Iraq Debate
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) previewed on the Sunday shows the upcoming debate on Capitol Hill over Democratic plans to try to take control of President Bush's war policy.
In a provocative comparison, Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" that adopting a Senate resolution that repeals the 2002 authorization for war in favor of one that restricts the military's role and orders a start to withdrawal, "would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change ... the resolution that allowed the United States to ... [create] a stable environment in Europe."
RICE: We don't need to do anything but to allow the commanders on the ground -- General [David] Petraeus, who's gone out there as the new commander -- to pursue the course that he and other commanders have put together. ... We are in a different situation, even, some would say, a different war. But the consolidation of a stable and democratic Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is a part of what America owes to the Iraqi people, owes to the region and owes to ourselves so that our own security is there.
Meanwhile, Levin's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" made clear that Democrats face formidable challenges in getting the Senate plan passed but will press forward anyway. The efforts come after a nonbinding resolution that criticized the president's plan to "surge" 21,500 combat troops to Iraq passed in the House but failed to come to a vote in the Senate.
LEVIN: [The 2002 resolution] told the president that he had authority to do basically whatever he wanted to in Iraq. ... Things have changed in Iraq. We don't believe that it can be possible to remove all of our troops from Iraq because there's going to be limited purpose that they're going to need to serve. ... So we want to transform, or we want to modify, that earlier resolution to a more limited purpose.
Levin said, under the new resolution, most of the 130,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq would come out over the next year. "The key issue is, do we want American troops in the middle of a civil war?" he added.
He acknowledged, however, the many challenges Democrats face. In the Senate, they don't have the 60 votes necessary to overcome an all-but-inevitable Republican filibuster. They are also under pressure from some members of the party to cut funding for the war, a strategy being touted by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). Levin indicated that Senate Democrats will not seek to use spending authority as a tool in the debate.
On CNN's Late Edition, Mowaffak al- Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, was asked how the debate in Washington is affecting the debate in Baghdad.
AL-RUBAIE: What happened in Iraq was a paradigm shift from the old order to a new order, ... And this paradigm shift, this huge departure from the old order to a new set of rules of democracy, federalism, rule of law, human rights, this is new for this part of the world and it needs from us a strategic patience. We cannot fit this strategic patience in the election cycle of Washington, D.C. It is very difficult to fit it.
Iran: Crossed metaphors over nuclear hopes
With locomotive metaphors, Rice and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad battled today over the country's nuclear development program. Ahmadinejad told Iranian state radio that Iran "dismantled the [reverse] gear and brakes of the [nuclear] train and threw them away sometime ago," prompting Rice to respond, "They don't need a reverse gear. They need a stop button."
On "Fox News Sunday," she continued: "They need to stop enriching and reprocessing, and then we can sit down and talk about whatever is on Iran's mind."
On Monday, Britain, the United States, France, China, Russia and Germany are meeting in London to consider more sanctions against Iran, which claims its nuclear program is to develop energy sources. International diplomats suspect it is part of a weapons program.
Rice struck a positive chord in her comments, though, saying she is willing to work with Iranians directly if they agree to stop their nuclear program. And she said there was going to be "steadfast" political and financial pressure on the Ahmadinejad government to do so.
RICE: We're leaving open the track of negotiations because the best way to resolve this would be to have Iran come to the table. ... I think you have to look at what is happening in the debate in Iran and there are people who are questioning whether the policies that Iran is pursuing are indeed isolating Iran. People are looking hard at investment in Iran, at the reputational risk, the investment risk.
Politics: The Governator blasts partisanship
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the Hollywood action hero who became a star in American politics, discussed on CBS's "Face the Nation" how Washington can copy his governing success.
SCHWARZENNEGER: When you have two parties, you have to compromise. It's that simple. It's never our way or the highway. It is working together and finding common ground and finding solutions. The ultimate goal should always be what is best for the state, or what is best for the country, rather than what is best for my party. That is the key thing.
After his ballot proposals were rejected by voters in 2005, Schwarzennegger turned around his political fortunes in 2006 and won reelection with a healthy margin of victory. He credited his success to a willingness to work with the Democratic-controlled state legislature on such issues as climate change and universal health care.
It was noted, as it is always is, that the Austrian-born former bodybuilder cannot run for president. Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger weighed in on national affairs, saying that he supports a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq and that Congress should decide whether to cut funding for the war or let the president do what he wants. "To micromanage a war is the worst thing," he said. "It's the ingredient for a loss."
2008: Edwards and Brownback
While the 2008 presidential campaign colored most of the talk, former North Carolina senator John Edwards was the only Democratic candidate to appear on the shows. That's good for him, because he's been trying to take away some of the attention from the domineering campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
On "Face the Nation," Edwards returned to his position on the Iraq. Edwards has frequently said that his vote in 2002 to authorize the war was a mistake -- something Clinton has declined to say.
EDWARDS: I also think it's important for those of us who were responsible for voting on the resolution in 2002 to say whatever the truth is for us about that vote. For those who voted for it, including me, if we believe we were wrong -- and I believe I was -- I think it's important to be honest about that and to say it. But I think that's an individual decision to be made by those who were responsible.
On the Republican side, presidential hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback (Kans.), who appeared on "Late Edition," stands out for being critical of Bush's "surge" strategy.
BROWNBACK: I don't think this is the way to go. I think we have to get to a political solution and that we cannot impose a military solution.
Brownback has also distinguished himself in the GOP field by being a committed social conservative. The Christian-dominated right wing of the Republican Party has been wary of the three leading contenders: McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Yet Brownback has not registered strong numbers in opinion surveys.
BROWNBACK: I've been in this kind of race before, where my poll numbers are lower than some of the other candidates', but my positions are consistent with where the base of the party is. I'm an economic conservative. I'm for pro-growth and an alternative flat tax and personal Social Security accounts, restraining federal spending.
Harsh words for Carter
On ABC's "This Week," former president Jimmy Carter said the nature of the criticism he received in response to his recent book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" was a first for him.
CARTER: I've never before been called a liar or ... anti-Semite or a plagiarist or a thief or a coward. These personal epithets against me have been a surprise.
Apropos of tonight's Academy Awards, Carter also made clear who he is encouraging to run for president:
CARTER: My favorite Democrat, for a number of years now, has been Al Gore. ... His burning issue now is global warming and preventing it. He can do infinitely more to accomplish that goal, as the incumbent in the White House, than he can making even movies that get Oscars. ... I've put so much pressure on Al to run that he's almost gotten aggravated with me.
Professor Rice speaks
Rice, a Soviet Union scholar, took a moment to show she's a policy wonk at heart. In the wake of Vladimir Putin's recent tough speech criticizing the United States for having "overstepped" internationally and one of his generals threatenting Poland and the Czech Republic if U.S. missile defenses are installed there, "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked whether a new Cold War was beginning.
RICE: Russia is not the Soviet Union, and we have to recognize that. It's a different place, and we have a different relationship. ... The expansion of NATO and the expansion of the European Union is, in fact, one of the great stories of the post-Cold War time. It is one that has helped to consolidate a democratic and secure Europe. ... And Russia has nothing to fear by having democracies on its borders ... When it comes to missile defense, no one would suggest ... that somehow 10 interceptors deployed in Poland are going to threaten the thousands of warheads in the Russian deterrent. ... I used to do this for a living, arms control -- you know, how many warheads could dance on the head of an SS-18. It's a ludicrous claim.
By Zachary Goldfarb |
February 25, 2007; 3:18 PM ET
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