A leading neoconservative pundit is calling on Republican lawmakers to support the authorization of military force (AUMF) on Syria and suggests that “soon after” the Syria measure passes, Republicans should consider another AUMF for Iran.
Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and the standard bearer for right-wing hawks, said that congressional Republicans should ignore their disgust for President Obama, take the “statesmanlike” stance and support Obama’s plan for a limited military strike on Syria. After going through a series of points arguing that “[a] Yes vote is in fact the easy vote” and it’s “actually close to risk-free,” Kristol, in a column for the Standard, got to the heart of the matter:
A Yes vote can also be explained as a vote to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Syria is an Iranian proxy. Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons is a proxy for Iran’s ability to move ahead unimpeded in its acquisition of nuclear weapons. To bring this point home, soon after voting to authorize the use of force against the Assad regime, Republicans might consider moving an authorization for the use of force against the Iranian nuclear weapons program. They can explain that Obama’s dithering in the case of Syria shows the utility of unequivocally giving him the authority to act early with respect to Iran. An Iran debate would pretty much unite Republicans and conservatives and would help mitigate political problems arising from a Yes vote on Syria. The issue of Iran will most likely come to a head before Election Day 2014, probably even before primary elections earlier next year. An Iran resolution means the Syria vote won’t be the most important vote Republicans cast in this session of Congress—it won’t even be the most important foreign policy vote.
While Obama administration officials have argued that credibility on the Iranian issue is on the line in its push to get Congress to authorize action in Syria, the White House has made clear that the current measure before the Legislative Branch is limited to approving military force in response to the Syrian government’s alleged chemical weapons use, a mission that will be aimed at solely deterring Bashar al-Assad from using them again and degrading his capabilities to do so. No Obama administration official has said anything about wanting to authorize force against Iran.
Kristol, the neoconservatives, and their allies have been calling on Congress to authorize war with Iran for quite some time. “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 Jamie Fly asked in a column last year.
The Iranians, for their part, have surprised the American foreign policy establishment in recent days with a series of tweets sending Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews celebrating the new year and distancing Iran from former President Mahmoud Amadinejad’s Holocaust denial. This new “Twitter Diplomacy,” one unnamed Hill staffer told Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen, “will go down in history.” Rozen added that the staffer also expressed “the wider sense of amazement heard from many veteran Iran watchers at the display of tolerance and public diplomacy initiative coming from Tehran.”