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Monday, 07 August 2006 10:21

Lieberman's Own Words on Iraq from the Beginning Show Why He Needs the Boot

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Joe Lieberman's continued support of Iraq and Bush has led to understandable anger from the Democrats he abandoned (and praise from the ultra-conservatives he has joined, like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter). On the verge of a vitally significant primary election Tuesday, it’s important to remember that Lieberman hasn't just been a passive follower, he has been among the most active proponents of Iraq since the beginning when he led Congress in deciding to give Bush a blank check.

Lieberman was the Democratic cosponsor of the authorizing resolution passed by the Senate on October 11, 2002 at 12:50 AM (why are all the most sinister bills passed in the middle of the night?), which he advocated for passionately on the floor. Just like Bush, he used fear tactics, describing in detail the implications of Saddam's supposed biological and chemical weapons stockpiles and nuclear ambitions, suggestive connections to al-Qaeda, and temporal urgency that could be measured in "seconds or minutes or hours." He also spoke out against an amendment requiring us to only use our military to support an international, UN supported war to avoid the pitfalls of unilateral action we have become all too familiar with.

While hindsight is 20-20, millions of people were fully aware at the time just how much damage Iraq would cause. Lieberman wasn't one of them. "Some say that removing Saddam Hussein from power would compromise the wider war against terrorism," he explained. "But to me, the two are inextricably linked."

Curiously, his unconditional support for the president was not clouded by problems in Afghanistan that Lieberman himself noted: "Perhaps due to the Bush administration's stated aversion to nation building, we failed to establish a peacekeeping presence strong enough or geographically wide enough to tame the factionalism and ethnic conflict that have plagued Afghanistan for years. We failed to get ready to deal with the decrepit state of the nation's infrastructure . . . that preceded our involvement."

What could possibly have led Lieberman to think that Iraq would have been any different? He knew Bush was completely incompetent but gave him his unconditional support anyway. It's the same faulty logic that makes him think the only way out of Iraq now is more of the same instead of a new strategy. Then again, this is the same guy who still insists we should have continued to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War.

Even before the vote, Lieberman was saying some truly ridiculous things, and it's unbelievable that he has refused to retract them. Here's three:

  • "If a civil society can grow (in Iraq) — if a garden of freedom and opportunity can flourish where the biblical Garden of Eden grew — the fruits of that garden will spread throughout the region and the Arab and Muslim world."
  • "I am grateful that President Bush has effectively begun the critical work of educating the American people, the Congress, and the world about why. Our cause is just. The facts are on our side."
  • "President Bush advanced that process with great effectiveness in his speech at the U.N. yesterday, albeit after a season long on the beating of drums of war and short on explaining why war may now be necessary. But the President did that yesterday in New York."

Now, many people were misled by Bush's lies about Iraq. Heck, half of Americans still think Saddam had WMDs. But the honest ones haven't been afraid to admit they were wrong and seek a new plan. Lieberman's only strategy out of the bottomless hole is to keep digging. During the 2004 presidential primary, he claimed that "our victory in Iraq" had vastly improved the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. How sadly he was wrong on both parts.

It's not about blame. Many in Congress were wrong, realized it, and are now trying to find the best way to redeploy our troops as soon as possible. But the original ringleaders who continue to wave the baton don't deserve to stay in office, regardless of which party they claim to belong to.