The Cable

Tea Party Caucus members endorse Israeli attack on Iran

Now that the congressional supporters of the Tea Party movement have formed their own caucus, their policy positions are becoming easier to track. Expanding their foray into foreign policy, 21 members of the new caucus have now come out explicitly endorsing Israel's right to strike Iran's nuclear program.

Almost two dozen Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers cosponsored a new resolution late last week that expresses their support for Israel "to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force."

The lead sponsor of the resolution was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, one of four congressmen to announce the formation of the 44-member Tea Party caucus at a press conference on July 21. The other three Tea Party Caucus leaders, Michele Bachmann, R-MN, Steve King, R-IA, and John Culberson, R-TX, are also sponsors of the resolution. In total, 21 Tea Party Caucus members have signed on, according to the latest list of caucus members put out by Bachmann's office.

The resolution cites threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "annihilate" the state of Israel, endorses other means to persuade Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, and states the lawmakers' support for an Israeli military strike "if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time."

"Members of the Tea Party caucus can and do speak for themselves," said Gohmert in an emailed statement, "but most if not all members have strong beliefs that we should not turn on our backs on our best friends and reward those bent on our destruction. This resolution was borne out of concern for the threat, not merely to Israel, but also to the United States." 

Notably absent from the resolution -- and indeed, from the Tea Party Caucus -- is Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and 2008 presidential candidate. Paul, who leads the libertarian wing of the Tea Party movement, was one of only 11 members of the House to vote against the recent Iran sanctions bill, which he called "very, very dangerous and not well thought out"; in 2007 he expressed his concern that "a contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran."

There's little chance the resolution, which has 46 co-sponsors in total, will see a vote on the House floor any time soon. But the resolution signals increasing interest by the Tea Party and its congressional supporters in foreign policy.

Last week, a Tea Party-affiliated grassroots organization launched a nationwide campaign to build popular opposition to the administration's nuclear reductions treaty with Russia, called New START. The group is led by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife Ginny and it dovetails with similar efforts by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The resolution also continues a theme among Tea Party leaders, such as Sarah Palin, who are seeking to separate the movement's domestic policies, which call for small government and fiscal restraint, from libertarian views on foreign policy, promoting instead an aggressive, unilateralist view of world affairs and unchecked military spending.

Read the whole resolution here.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Cable

McChrystal: I need 40,000 more troops to deal with my wife

Last Friday, Pentagon and Army leaders all came out to honor Gen. Stanley McChrystal in a retirement ceremony complete with a full color guard, performances by the Army band, and a 17-gun salute.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates hosted the ceremony. We're told he made special arrangements to fly home earlier than planned from his trip to Southeast Asia to attend the ceremony. Gates got off the plane at 1:30 PM at Andrews Air Force Base and made it to Fort McNair just in time for the event.

Gates praised McChrystal's years of terrorist hunting and talked about how unique it was for a senior officer to get so heavily and directly involved in the dangerous special operations missions his unit was carrying out on a daily basis.

"As a lieutenant general, he went out on night missions with his teams, subjecting himself to their hardships and dangers.  After going on one operation that resulted in a fire fight, some of his British comrades awarded Stan the distinction of being the highest-paid rifleman in the United States Army," Gates said.

Army Chief of Staff George Casey spoke and a whole bevy of senior military officials and their wives were in attendance, including Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Pete Chiarelli, the vice chief of Army staff, and several foreign military officials. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen was in Pakistan.

Casey told the story of the night that McChrystal's unit successfully killed al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and how McChrystal personally identified the body.

"Stan had the body brought to his headquarters compound for identification.  We decided not to tell anyone until we were sure, so Stan went down to check out the body and called me. He said, ‘General, we've been tracking this guy for two and a half years, and I think it's him.' I said, ‘How sure are you?' He responded quietly, ‘I'm sure.' And that was the first and only time in our time together there that I heard his voice crack with emotion."

McChrystal had the crowd in stitches with a speech that mixed loving praise for his wife Annie and a comic routine. Noting that the ceremony had the potential to be awkward, McChrystal proceeded to crack jokes about his unscheduled retirement, his marriage, and his three-decade career in the Army. At one point, he warned his close friends in attendance that he could leak stories about them if they spoke out of turn. "I know a Rolling Stone reporter," he joked.

McChrystal then went into a long, affectionate tribute to his wife's patience during his five-year absence from their marriage and the process of reintegrating into family life stateside after being so long in a position of complete authority and control as a military commander:

"First I need to address two questions that we've been asked often lately. The first is: What are you going to do? Actually, Annie is the one who is asking me that. I'm thinking I would be a good fashion consultant and spokesman for Gucci. But they haven't called."

"The other question is always asked a bit tentatively. How are you and Annie doing? We did spend some years apart, but we're doing well. And I did carry some of what I learned into retirement. First, Annie and I are reconnecting and now we're up on Skype with each other. Of course, we never did that all those years I was 10,000 miles away, but now we connect by video link when we are 15 feet apart, and I think she really likes that."

"I was so enthused I tried to use Skype for a daily family [video teleconference], so I could get daily updates and pass out guidance. But there's some resistance to ‘flatter and faster' in the McChrystal household.  The same is true for the tactical directive I issued upon my return. It's reasonable guidance: one meal a day, early morning [physical training], the basics for a good family life.  But I've gotten a few night letters and Annie is stocking up on ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is strange since our new yard is smaller than this podium."

"Although the insurgency is relatively small, one woman, she's uninterested in reintegration. I assess the situation as serious, and in many ways deteriorating. Mr. Secretary, look at her. I'm thinking at least 40,000 troops."