George Will

WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 6, 2007, while she was away from the Senate pursuing the presidency, Sen. Hillary Clinton asked Majority Leader Harry Reid to introduce her bill S. 2426 to prohibit funding for implementing any agreement with Iraq "involving 'commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole,' including a status of forces agreement," unless Congress has approved such an agreement. The "commitments or risks" language is from State Department criteria for when congressional approval should be sought for international agreements.

Clinton declared it "outrageous that the Bush administration would seek to circumvent the U.S. Congress on a matter of such vital interest to national security." Clinton's co-sponsors included Barack Obama and John Kerry, who now chairs the Foreign Relations Committee.

Last Aug. 1, Sen. Joe Biden introduced S. 3433 to prohibit funding for a "security commitment to, or security arrangement with" Iraq that has not been approved by Congress. Biden was indignant that "Iraq's leaders plan to submit the agreement to their parliament -- but our president does not." Iraq's parliament has debated and ratified the agreement called "On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq."

It stipulates U.S. duties "while conducting military operations" as part of "temporary assistance" to the Iraqi government when acting against "al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, outlaw groups, and remnants of the former regime." And: "In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq that would violate its sovereignty, political independence, or territorial integrity, waters, airspace, its democratic system or its elected institutions, and upon request by the government of Iraq, the parties shall immediately initiate strategic deliberations and, as may be mutually agreed, the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat." Sen. James Webb, a Virginia Democrat who co-sponsored both the Clinton and Biden bills, said "any" agreement with Iraq should earn "the explicit consent of Congress."


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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