Addressing AIPAC during a Monday evening Gala celebration, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed a bold new policy concerning Iran. “If Iran at anytime begins to enrich uranium to weapons grade or goes forward with a nuclear weapons program then the United States will use overwhelming military force to end that program.”

The statement represents a clear escalation in the political war between Republicans and the Administration over the current policy toward Iran that emphasizes crippling sanctions and a wait and see posture.

Senator McConnell’s new proposal was met with thunderous applause from the 13,000 plus attendees at the AIPAC Gala. He called President Obama’s repeated announcement that the administration keeps “all options on the table” a talking point not a policy. He called for a “straightforward, deliberate plan” that would force Tehran to negotiate to preserve its survival.

McConnell also said that if the U.S. intelligence, at any time informs Congress that Iran has begun to enrich uranium to weapons-grade standards or decided to develop a nuclear weapon, he would consult with the president and the joint congressional leadership on legislation authorizing the use of American military force. These statements by McConnell brought the first new idea of the table in the ongoing debate over how to deal with Iran. Yesterday, President Obama rehashed his Administration’s accomplishments but offered nothing new. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rehashed the Obama Administration’s accomplishments but offered nothing new or even anything mildly interesting. Against this backdrop, Senator McConnell’s proposal shines in bright contrast to the pale policies of the past.

McConnell said the authorization for U.S. military force against Iran would make clear that if Iran or its proxies retaliate against the United States or its interests, they would face overwhelming response. His rhetoric may be bold but he may face a tough fight getting a war resolution through a war-weary congress. Washington state Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement saying that while Obama has been correct in holding out the option of military force, sanctions should be given enough time to work. “Taking unilateral military action at this point is unnecessary and would only serve to undermine International consensus,” Smith said.

McConnell concluded his remarks by calling Iran, “a self-described revolutionary state that is determined to shift the balance of power in the Middle East.” He talked of a “day of reckoning” being approached by Israel and the United States where, “We either do what it takes to preserve the balance of power within the broader Middle East or risk a nuclear arms race across the region that’s almost certain to upend it.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who echoed his own words that were spoken to President Obama just a few hours earlier, followed Senator McConnell. Concerning the support of the United States he expressed his gratitude. Concerning Israel’s path he said, “We must always remain the masters of our own fate.” He said, “We have waited for diplomacy to work. We have waited for sanctions to work. We cannot afford to wait much longer.”

Will fellow Republicans embrace Senator McConnell’s bold new plan? No one know but one thing is for sure…they had better buckle-up for the debate


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