WASHINGTON -- Condoleezza Rice, a sports buff, knows that, as a professional basketball player has said, ``It's not going to be peaches and gravy all the time.'' Herewith some hard questions senators might ask in her confirmation hearings:
Did you see the television coverage of Yasser Arafat's funeral -- riot as mourning, gunfire as liturgy? Is it reasonable to expect that in the Jan. 9 elections to choose Arafat's successor, the Palestinian polity will select what the president called (June 24, 2002) a necessary condition for progress -- leadership ``not compromised by terror''?
The president says it is ``cultural condescension'' to question ``whether this country, or that people, or this group, are 'ready' for democracy." Condescending, perhaps, but is it realistic? Tony Blair says it is a ``myth" that ``our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture." Are there cultural prerequisites for free polities? Does Iraq have them? Do the Palestinian people, after a decade of saturation propaganda inciting terrorism and anti-Semitism? Does the United States know how to transplant those prerequisites?
Should the Sunnis, Iraq's tyrants for decades, be allowed, by boycott or insurgency, to delay the Jan. 31 elections?
If, knowing what we now know about Iraq's weapons programs, you still think pre-emptive war was justified, what other nations might, by the same criteria, merit pre-emptive action?
Is the Constitution's war power clause (Article I, Section 8: ``The Congress shall have power to ... declare war") an anachronism? If so, why? If not, to what sort of situation might it pertain? In January 1991 the Senate voted 52-47 to authorize President George H.W. Bush to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Would a formal declaration of war have been appropriate? If the Senate had defeated the authorizing resolution, and Bush had gone to war anyway, would that have been a legitimate exercise of an inherent power or the presidency? If so, return to the first question (re: anachronism).
If you had been secretary in 1991, would you have advocated regime change -- driving on to Baghdad?