Biden Plans to De-Authorize Congressional Approval of the President’s Mandate in Iraq


This afternoon at Brookings in a session moderated by former Ambassador and Brookings foreign policy division chief Carlos Pascual, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and presidential contender Joseph Biden gave an impressive speech focused on U.S. options toward Iraq.
Here is the video link for the Biden speech, and here is the audio link.
I asked him at the meeting what he thought Iran’s aspirations were in the region and how, if President, he would have responded to something like the May 2003 Iranian proposal for comprehensive negotiations aimed at normalizing US-Iran relations.
Biden responded by saying that he would talk to Iran. He said that we have “had the mute button pushed for six years.” He said that our silence, our failure to engage Iran on any level, to try and connect with the citizens in Iran — among whom American popularity has traditionally run very high — has left the Iranian government fundamentally unchallenged. He suggested that we could be delegitimating the Iranian government simply by doing more to connect with the Iranian public and understanding and responding to the aspirations of Iran’s citizens.
He thought that Iranians wanted to be recognized as a significant and great power in the region. He did not comment on the May 2003 Iran proposal to the U.S.
But on another front, Biden made a powerful statement that the Iraq War Resolution that Congress issued to the President was essentially invalid as it no longer pertained to conditions regarding Saddam Hussein and WMDs that were specified as key features of the 2002 authorization.
Biden stated (Here is pdf of Biden speech):

The best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
We gave the President that power to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein.
The WMD were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.
I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq.
Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to responsibly draw down, while continuing to combat terrorists, train Iraqis and respond to emergencies. We should make equally clear what their mission is not: to stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a savage civil war.
Coupled with the Biden-Gelb plan, I believe this is the most effective way to start bringing our troops home without leaving a mess behind.

Biden’s staff reported that they hope to have this “new resolution” essentially de-authorizing earlier granted authorities out very soon, possibly in a couple of weeks.
— Steve Clemons


5 comments on “Biden Plans to De-Authorize Congressional Approval of the President’s Mandate in Iraq

  1. Carroll says:

    I am not so sure this was totally Biden’s idea….
    Jim Webb of Va. had already stated his intention to do that exact thing on Hardball the other night…
    “MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Iran, because a lot of people, me included, wonder whether this administration might get us involved in a second war in that part of the world—the Mideast—in other words, get into a war with Iran. Does the president have the constitutional authority to go to war with Iran without checking with your branch of government?
    WEBB: I don‘t believe he does, and there are two situations with respect to Iran. The first is, as I said yesterday on the issue of Iraq and how to move forward—the great frustration that I have is that we don‘t even have half a strategy here.
    We have a continuing military policy—every time there is an escalation of the violence inside Iraq, but we have not had an aggressive diplomatic offensive by this administration that matches the quality of our military performance and that would embrace these countries in the region in a way that we can get a diplomatic solution.
    You‘re not going to do that unless we go to Syria and Iran, as many people have said. Now, with respect to the administration and Iran specifically, I asked Secretary of State Rice, last month in a hearing—I read the presidential finding on the—on the resolution of ‘02 which basically said from this administration that they believe they have a lot of requisite authority, and possibly including Iran.
    I asked her to clarify that. I have not received a clarification and I‘m considering putting a resolution in that basically says that no previous resolutions, no previous law empowers this administration…
    MATTHEWS: Wow.
    WEBB: … to unilaterally go into Iran.”
    Webb is sounding better and better…I hope he can keep himself from being bought in DC.


  2. weldon berger says:

    Steve, what do you think the practical impact of such a resolution would be? and with respect to the Biden-Gelb “plan”: who would be charged with implementing it and how would they do so?


  3. daCascadian says:

    Props to Biden if he pulls this off.
    Still not interested in him as a presidential candidate though. Too little way too late.
    “You don’t prevent anything by war except peace.” – Harry S. Truman


  4. NCProsecutor says:

    Steve, how will your GOP “heroes” of the Senate respond? Will they be “heroes” and support it?
    You still haven’t given us the “more to come” you promised back when you called these two-faced GOP Senators “heroes.” We’re still waiting.


  5. gq says:

    It seems like Biden, Richardson and Clark are the only candidates with a real understanding of the region. It’s a shame that those three are bottom tier candidates because of the large amounts of money going to the top two–and Edwards 6 year presidential campaign.


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