While researching for yesterday’s post, we came across an Op-Ed piece on Iraq written by Senator Joe Lieberman almost a year ago. Reviewing its contents, its amazing how prescient Senator Lieberman was in identifying some of the key issues. It should be clear from some of these quotes why we feel such a strong kinship with Senator Lieberman, despite our political differences.
On the importance of winning in Iraq:
It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.
A year later, and these primary issues have not changed. We continue to be on the side of 27 million Iraqis. Loss in Iraq will embolden terrorists and turn Iraq into the equivalent of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Whatever opinion polls you may read about the mindset of the Iraqi people, when the vote matters, they vote overwhelmingly for democracy.
Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them.
Iraqi leaders are fearful that the latest election signaled a change in American commitment to success in the Middle East. Their worst fears are founded in the aftermath of Desert Storm when President Bush Sr. encouraged the Shiite majority attempted to overthrow Saddam and then ordered Schwarzkopf to stand down. The result: Saddam slaughtered the leaders of the uprising and then tortured and killed their families. We must not once again abandon Iraq to a similar fate.
American polls are notoriously difficult to interpret. Does the decline in President Bush’s approval rating mean Americans want to get out of Iraq or that they simply believe that the current strategy needs to be changed? We’ve argued ad nauseum that most Americans support the war, but are frustrated with the current state of affairs. This last election–notably Senator Lieberman’s re-election–seem to support this conclusion. There’s not much question where Iraqi’s stand, again, from Senator Lieberman:
Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. 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.
We know these poll numbers are almost a year old, but the recent numbers, while showing some decline, still indicate Iraqis feel better off now and are optimistic about the future.
As when Senator Lieberman visited Iraq, the Kurdish North remains free from violence as does the Shiite South. The attacks we read about are in the Sunni triangle–a relatively limited, but important, piece of land stretching from Baghdad to Tikrit to Ramadi. It may well be that the current strategies have failed there and new ideas are needed.
Or, it may be as we suspect, that terrorists and insurgents hope to exploit a weakening in American will and are stepping up violence as they did in the month leading up to the election. Either way, withdrawal before the Iraqi military and police are able to maintain security will not improve the situation. Even if you believe that Iraq was not the right fight, pulling out now will not make right your perceived wrong.
Senator Lieberman predicted that the situation in Iraq could be negatively affected by pressures of the now-passed election.
I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November’s elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.
Most Republicans were “brought down” by corruption while Democrats ran on a platform that was light on constructive recommendation and heavy on “we’re not Republicans.” These attitudes wont be enough.
Democrats must now heed Senator Lieberman’s recommendation and avoid making the next two years one large bully pulpit of criticism. We know they hate Bush and blame him and his cadre for all the worlds problems. Of course, we also remember that they too voted for the war. It’s time now for them to face up to the responsibility that vote should have entailed and partner with Republicans to find a solution–one that leaves Iraq secure and America safe.
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