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Monday, February 26, 2007

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) previewed the upcoming debate on Capitol Hill over the Democrats' plans to wrest control of President Bush's war policy.

Rice acknowledged "we are in a different situation" than in 2002 but said Congress should not try to micromanage the war. Under the Democrats' plan, Levin said, most troops would leave Iraq over the next year.

For all the discussion, dramatic congressional action appeared unlikely. Democrats say they don't have the numbers to overcome a GOP filibuster. Meanwhile, House Democrats are divided on proposals to cut war funding that, Levin indicated, do not have much support in the Senate.

On CNN's "Late Edition," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie urged Washington to be patient. The movement toward democracy, he said, is a "paradigm shift" that won't be completed on the timetable desired by U.S. politicians.

2008 Campaign Moment: Former senator John Edwards (N.C.), a Democratic presidential hopeful, said that if elected, he would tell Americans he doesn't know how Iraq will pan out if troops are withdrawn, as he wants. "Can a person run for president making a statement like that?" Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face the Nation," inquired. "It's the truth," Edwards replied. "I have, I guess, enough faith in our people to think they can accept the truth."

Metaphor Watch: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country's nuclear program was a "train" without brakes, prompting Rice to say Tehran needs to hit the "stop button." She made clear that U.S. efforts to isolate Iran are also moving full steam ahead but that she would halt the U.S. pursuit of additional sanctions if Iran abandons the program.

Tangent: Responding to tough comments from Russian leaders about the United States and its missile defense plans, Rice showed she's a policy wonk at heart. A scholar of the Soviet Union, she dismissed the idea that a new Cold War is brewing. "I used to do this for a living, arms control -- you know, how many warheads could dance on the head of an SS-18," the intercontinental ballistic missile.

By Zachary A. Goldfarb


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