Questions for Condoleeza Rice

George Will‘s latest WaPo column, “What to Ask the Nominee,” posts a terrific list of suggested questions for the hearings to confirm Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. A few of them:

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 to 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 of the presidency? If so, return to the first question (re: anachronism).

In 2000, before becoming George W. Bush’s national security adviser, you questioned the use of U.S. military forces in peacekeeping operations: “Carrying out civil administration and police functions is simply going to degrade the American capability to do the things America has to do. We don’t need to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten.” Are current noncombat operations in Iraq degrading U.S. military capabilities?

You have said that it would be “unacceptable” for Iran or North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. What, if anything, does that commit the United States to do if negotiations continue to be unavailing? Or if, as some intelligence reports suggest, North Korea already has several such weapons?

Should the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China) be changed? Should France (population 60 million) be included rather than India (1 billion — soon to be the world’s most populous nation), Indonesia (238 million, the world’s largest Islamic nation), Brazil (184 million, the most populous nation in Latin America) or Japan (127 million, and the world’s second-largest economy)?

The European Union, the product of “pooled” national sovereignties, will soon have its own foreign policy, foreign minister, embassies, ambassadors and diplomatic service. Why not replace France with a single E.U. representative?

Terribly difficult, all. The rest of the list is worth reading and contemplating as well.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    In January 1991 the Senate voted 52 to 47 to authorize President George H.W. Bush to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Would a formal declaration of war have been appropriate?

    IIRC, Sen. Biden made the point last year that the one passed by Congress for the current Iraq operation did satisfy Article I, Section 8, and thus one could argue the resolutions passed in 1991 (and 1964) did likewise.

    The rationale is that “the President is authorized to use force” is not substantially different, in terms of what Congress wants done, than “a state of war exists.” If a state of war exists, does that not call upon the President, in light of his constitutional duties, to use force?

    I can find nothing in Article I, Section 8 requiring that a constitutionally acceptable declaration of war actually contain the word “war.”

  2. too true says:

    Hmmm .. while they are important questions, I object to using the confirmation process to try to pin down the Administration on detailed policy approaches this way. For one thing, Dr. Rice isn’t supposed to make policy, but rather to recommend and then implement it. Grilling her on these questions is beyond the scope of what the Senate should be doing in these hearings.

    This is Will wanting to control the Administration. pfah.

  3. Attila Girl says:

    Dr. Rice could handle these questions. I hope she reads this, and thinks about it.

  4. James Joyner says:

    AG: I’m sure she could. Giving intellectually sound answers to these while also saying the “correct” thing politically, however, may be impossible.

    TT: Actually, cabinet secretaries do more than simply implement policies: they’re, first and foremost, advisors to the president.