As far as I’m concerned, there is no person right now who is braver politcally than Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Lieberman is the voice of reason, of true centrism, in our Congress. He speaks plainly to Democrats and tells them their plans are dangerously flawed. He speaks to Republicans and tells them their mistakes are paramount.
Today, Lieberman spoke on the record in the Senate Chamber to lay out exactly why the Iraq Withdrawal Provision in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill is truly dangerous, to America and her troops. His main arguments against the full plan are these:
“Its first step, (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) said, is to ‘transition the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war—to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting U.S. forces, and conducting targeted counter-terror operations.’”
As Lieberman points out in his remarks, this is exactly what our troops were doing under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It’s the very strategy that the Democrats had been screaming about, and trying to change, for most of the past four years.
“What is going on here?” he asks. “What has changed so that the strategy that we criticized and rejected in 2006 suddenly makes sense in 2007?”
He also points out another hypocrisy in this strategy: the Democratic plan – essentially a means by which the Democrats take control of military strategy – prohibits our troops from policing sectarian violence in Iraq, from protecting themselves and the Iraqis from terrorist operations. From “the very same sectarian violence that Al Qaeda hopes to ride to victory.”
While Reid states that troops would still be able to conduct targeted counter-terror operations under his plan, Lieberman states that Reid’s plan removes troops from daily interaction with Iraqis who can provide key intelligence. And so he asks:
“How, exactly, are U.S. forces to gather intelligence about where, when, and against whom to strike, after you have ordered them walled off from the Iraqi population? How, exactly, are U.S. forces to carry out targeted counter-terror operations, after you have ordered them cut off from the very source of intelligence that drives these operations?”
Finally, Lieberman points out what should be obvious: a mandatory date of departure encourages Al Qaeda to simply wait us out, and step in to take over as soon as we are gone. Yet supporters of the legislation claim with straight faces that the opposite will occur: that the absence of US Troops will create an absence of terrorists, that terrorists will suddenly “lose interest” in a region when the troops leave. Previous experience with troops retreating from various areas has proven the former to be the certain outcome of premature troop withdrawal.
The plan proposed – indeed passed – by Democrats today essentially renders our troops useless in the task of rebuilding Iraq and protecting those Iraqis who would work alongside us. It tells the world that a definitive timeline for exit is more important to America than success in completing the mission. And it tells the Iraqis that we really don’t care if their country falls into chaos.
Americans who support this plan support defeat, and support terrorism as a political system. Americans who support our troops should be listening to Joe Lieberman.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in April, 2007, when Joe Lieberman had balls. Actually, he still might – I haven’t checked lately.