The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ben Rhodes Is Suddenly Interested in Congressional Authorization

Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes participates in the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, September 30, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Former national security adviser Ben Rhodes, the architect of the Iran nuclear deal, purposely structured the JCPOA as a treaty that was not a treaty because he and his boss, President Obama, had no intention whatsoever of doing with the JCPOA what the Constitution mandates for all treaties, which is to obtain the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. Rhodes and Obama simply rammed through what was in effect a treaty without seeking the approval of even one Senator.

Yet here is Rhodes after the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the secretive Iranian Quds force that sows mischief (and kills Americans, and ordered the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad) outside Iran’s borders.

 

Rhodes’s tweet is incomprehensible unless one or both of the following two conditions applies: 1) Rhodes is very, very stupid; 2) Rhodes thinks one set of laws and principles applies to presidents he likes and another set applies to presidents he doesn’t like. Congress gets to “assert itself” in the Trump Administration’s foreign policy? When Rhodes was in charge of President Obama’s foreign policy (a documentary showed him bossing around Secretary of State John Kerry), he not only didn’t solicit Congress’s opinion on Iran policy but took extraordinary action purposely to cut the Senate out of a matter of which it should have had oversight.

Moreover, as David French at The Dispatch points out this morning, the strike that killed Soleimani actually was authorized under the Constitution because (as Rhodes may or may not remember) Congress did approve of U.S. military actions in Iraq. Those actions were re-authorized by the Obama Administration.

Whether the Soleimani hit was a good idea is worth debating, but President Trump did have the proper authority to order it.

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