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Sen. Lieberman seeks 'more troops' for 'winnable' Iraq war

Mike Sheehan
Published: Friday December 29, 2006
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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) has written an op-ed for The Washington Post in which he explains his reasons for why more troops are needed in Iraq. Lieberman argues that the war is "winnable," yet acknowledges that "more U.S. forces might not be a guarantee of success" in the fight.

"I've just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there," writes Lieberman, "all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging.

"On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States," the Senator continues. "Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001."

In August 2006, Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary to challenger Ned Lamont but defeated him in the general election, criticized Lamont's Iraq exit strategy by saying, "If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do ... it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England." Lamont responded, "That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney's comment... Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11."

Excerpts from Lieberman's piece, available in full at this link, follow:

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[The] bloodshed ... is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and, equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine Iraq's fragile political center. By ruthlessly attacking the Shiites in particular over the past three years, al-Qaeda has sought to provoke precisely the dynamic of reciprocal violence that threatens to consume the country.

On this point, let there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism.

To turn around the crisis we need to send more American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops and strengthen the moderate political forces in the national government. After speaking with our military commanders and soldiers there, I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar province -- an increase that will at last allow us to establish security throughout the Iraqi capital, hold critical central neighborhoods in the city, clamp down on the insurgency and defeat al-Qaeda in that province.

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As the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria appreciate -- at times, it seems, more keenly than we do -- failure in Iraq would be a strategic and moral catastrophe for the United States and its allies. ... One moderate Palestinian leader told me that a premature U.S. exit from Iraq would be a victory for Iran and the groups it is supporting in the region.

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