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.
Congress has to assert itself and determine exactly what our Iran policy is. Did we mean to do this? Do we have any plan for what comes next? What is the legal basis for all this?
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) January 3, 2020
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.
Iranian-backed militias attacked U.S. troops lawfully present in a combat zone under valid legal authorities. Moreover, America's military response isn't limited to immediate self-defense or tit for tat. It can act to remove the threat. That threat includes enemy commanders. /4
— David French (@DavidAFrench) January 3, 2020
Whether the Soleimani hit was a good idea is worth debating, but President Trump did have the proper authority to order it.