Sunday, January 21, 2007

Joseph Lieberman Remains Unbowed on Iraq

Senator Joseph Lieberman is interviewed in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. Lieberman's defeat by Ned Lamont in his primary election, and his subsequent comeback as an independent, was one of the most compelling political stories of 2006. Lieberman remains steadfast in his support for the Iraq War, and he's one of the main Senate backers of President Bush's troop escalation plan to stabilize the country. Here's what he says:

"Iraq is the central part of a larger and ultimately longer-term conflict in the Middle East between moderates and extremists, between democrats and dictators, between Iran- and Iraq-sponsored terrorism and the rest of the Middle East. . . . Are we going to surrender to them, surrender that country to them, and encourage people like them to be in authority and power all over the Middle East and in a better position to strike us again?"
Here's more:

In 2003 "we did something that was right and courageous, which was to overthrow Saddam Hussein," says Mr. Lieberman. "He was a genocidal dictator, he tried to assassinate a former American president, he used chemical weapons [on his] . . . own people . . . He was a hater of the United States." Saddam was a danger, not to mention a barrier to creating a democratic Middle East that ceases to be a threat to the U.S.
Lieberman's views are the minority position in the Democratic Party, and public opinion generally, but he's still resolute on the goodness of our cause. Lieberman:

....remains unmoved today by those colleagues who have abandoned the cause, lamenting that they were "deceived" about the existence of WMD or that they have "lost confidence in the leadership of the president." Says Mr. Lieberman: "If you still think, not only that the original purpose of going in was right, but that how it ends will have a significant effect on American security for a generation or more to come, then you don't back away." And that, he says, counts even in the face of faltering public opinion. "I think we are elected to lead. . . . Americans are understandably responding to the carnage they see on TV every night, and what we have to urge them is not to surrender to the people who are causing that carnage."
Read the whole thing. Leiberman's lucid on the consequences of American failure in Iraq, and he pinpoints the growing threat from Iran to the consolidation of the Iraqi state, and to American interests in the region as a whole:

We're in a war which has it origins in this part of the world, in the Middle East, in the conflict within Islam. If we pull out and essentially surrender to the extremists and terrorists, they are naturally going to follow us right back to our shores.

"If we leave the place collapses. And it's more than civil war, it's ethnic cleansing. The Iranians come in and dominate a good chunk of the country. Al Qaeda takes over a good part and uses it as a base. The Kurds [can sustain themselves] but it gets very ominous. . . . And then the same group of people who attacked us on 9/11, they achieve a victory, and they will use that victory to strike at us again."
I blogged last year about Lieberman's primary defeat in my post, "The Lamont Victory and the Lieberman Resurrection." Connecticut voters did the right thing be returning Lieberman to the Senate.

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