Lieberman and Iraq
Our Troops Must Stay
America can't abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists.
BY JOE LIEBERMAN
Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
“ I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn…
There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing…
In my meeting with the thoughtful prime minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, he declared with justifiable pride that his country now has the most open, democratic political system in the Arab world. He is right…
None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country…
I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago… than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead…
What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory…
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.”
Lieberman and Bush
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 7, 2005
President Discusses War on Terror and Rebuilding Iraq
Omni Shoreham Hotel
10:44 A.M. EST
“… One of those who has seen that progress is Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has traveled to Iraq four times in the past 17 months, and the article he wrote when he returned from his most recent trip provides a clear description of the situation on the ground. Here's what Senator Lieberman wrote -- Senator Lieberman wrote about the Iraq he saw: "Progress is visible and practical. There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraq hands than before." He describes an Iraqi poll showing that, "two-thirds [of Iraqis] say they are better off than they were under Saddam Hussein."
Senator Lieberman goes on, "Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes, we do. And it's important to make clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still, but has changed over the years." The Senator says that mistakes have been made. But he goes on to say that he is worried about a bigger mistake. He writes, "What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory." Senator Lieberman is right.”
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EDWARDS: You don't think support for the war cost you among some Democrats
who see this as President Bush's war?
LIEBERMAN: It probably did cost me among some Democrats who strongly opposed the war, but I felt for a long time -- long before George Bush came to power -- that Saddam Hussein was a danger. We did so much after the Gulf War -- sanctions, inspections, diplomacy, even limited military action -- that didn't work. John McCain, Bob Kerry and I concluded in 1998 that Saddam had to go.
Source: NPR May 27, 2003:
Lieberman is joining us now, live from Capitol Hill.
Welcome back from Iraq, Senator. Good to have you...
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... back safe and sound.
LIEBERMAN: Good to be with you. Thank you.
BLITZER: While you were gone -- or at least in recent days -- we heard from your Democratic colleague John Murtha of Pennsylvania -- very close to the military, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee -- saying this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Just because the president, just because the White House says there's going to be more terrorism if we -- if we withdraw doesn't make it so. He said there was going to be weapons of mass destruction. They said oil was going to pay for it. They said there was an al Qaeda connection. That's not necessarily true.
I predict the opposite. I think there will be less terrorism. We have become the target. We're the ones that have become the enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You wrote a strong piece in "The Wall Street Journal" today, totally rejecting that argument.
You -- you're basically very upbeat, based on what you saw in Iraq, and a lot of your fellow Democrats are probably scratching their heads, wondering how come.
LIEBERMAN: Well, it's based on what I saw.
I mean, Wolf, there's -- there's no -- I'm not hiding the fact that I supported the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I believe mistakes were made after that overthrow, some of them big, by the U.S., but that we have worked our way forward to a policy that is working.
Most significantly is the remarkable political transformation going on in Iraq. They've gone from a murdering dictator, Saddam, now to two elections, and another coming up, in which millions of Iraqis have come out and said: "We don't want these terrorists. We want to govern ourselves."
And I think we have an obligation now to protect that. And the way to do it is to -- to prepare the Iraqi military to take over the -- the defense of the country. And even that's happening.
So, I -- I can only report what I saw. The -- the political -- there's a great campaign going on. There are independent media covering it -- economy getting better, two-thirds of the country, north and south, almost totally without terrorist incidents. The Sunni Triangle is the one hardest-hit. And if we...
BLITZER: But that's where most of the people live, though. That's the bulk of the population.
LIEBERMAN: It's not the majority. But, clearly, Baghdad is the biggest city. I believe it has about seven million of the -- of the 27 million.
But, even in the Sunni Triangle, this new strategy of ours to embed a -- a small group of American soldiers into each Iraqi battalion is working.
BLITZER: All right.
LIEBERMAN: We're jointly clearing some of those cities of the terrorists.
BLITZER: You know...
LIEBERMAN: And then the Iraqis themselves are holding them.
BLITZER: ... you're upbeat. You're optimistic based on what you saw.
Let me read to you what the former interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, said in "The Observer" in London over the weekend.
He said: "People are doing the same as in Saddam's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam. And now we are seeing the same things."
Strong words from him, followed up by a front-page story in "The New York Times" today saying there -- and -- and I'll read to you -- he said -- it says: "Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks -- most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation."
BLITZER: The argument being that these Shiite militia groups, now part of the government, the Kurdish militia groups, they're running independently, and they're really scaring these Iraqi Sunnis with whom everyone wants for -- to engage.
LIEBERMAN: Yes. I saw those stories, Wolf.
Those are, obviously, totally unacceptable. And I want to make clear that I'm reporting progress that I saw in Iraq, not perfection. And, in fact, that's why we have to stay there and could only draw down our troops as the Iraqi military is prepared to secure the country.
In fact, what you're describing is two things. One is that it -- it is exactly what the terrorists want. The terrorists are blowing themselves up in Shia mosques to try to infuriate the Shia -- Shia Muslims -- so they will strike back.
And, unfortunately, human nature being what it is, some of that is -- is happening. But this is the -- a -- a small picture of what the future will be like in Iraq, which is civil war, if we don't stay there and sustain the tremendous growth of an Iraqi self-government, and continue the progress of the Iraqi military to protect themselves.
It's happening. The U.S. commander, George Casey, General George Casey, said to me that probably about a third of Iraqi military security force of about 100,000 can lead the fight on their own, and they hope that that number will double next year.
BLITZER: All right.
LIEBERMAN: If it does, we can begin to draw down some troops. Maybe that's what we'll hear from the president tomorrow.
Source CNN November 29,2005
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