CBS’ Bob Schieffer talked with Sen. Joe Lieberman about the Iraq policies offered by Barack Obama and John McCain. Lieberman said that if Obama’s plan had been followed then Iran and Al Qaeda would now be in control of Iraq.
Lieberman said, “If we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do, for the last couple of years, today Iran and Al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq.”
This video is from CBS’s Face the Nation, broadcast June 29, 2008. Download video
SCHIEFFER: If he’s ready to be president, do you believe Barack Obama is not ready.
LIEBERMAN: Let me put it affirmatively which is what I really mean. We rarely make a choice between perfect and terrible. John McCain is more ready to be president on foreign and domestic policy because of his extraordinary experience. It’s good experience. It’s experience where he’s had the guts to do what’s right for his country including in Iraq where he opposed the administration policy for a long time. The surge was implemented by president bush. It’s now working. Senator Obama unfortunately like a lot of the Democratic leadership continues to take a position that we ought to withdraw which to me is retreat. Accept defeat. Even though the new policy is working. I hope Barack Obama goes to Iraq and frankly I hope he changes his position because if we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do, for the last couple of years, today Iran and Al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the middle east and throughout the world. Instead, we’ve got a country that’s defending itself, that’s growing economically. Where there’s been genuine political reconciliation and where Iran and Al Qaeda are on the run. That’s the way it ought to be.
SCHIEFFER: You’re saying if we had done a drawdown, as Senator Obama had suggested, that Iran would now be in control of Iraq?
LIBERMAN: Yeah. Here’s what I mean. It’s the leadership of the Democatic party on this issue I respectfully but deeply disagree. Because they were saying a year ago, two years ago, Iraq was lost. They were saying, they were proposing amendments that would have ordered a withdrawal, a retreat of our forces to begin and end rather rapidly. If that had happened in Iraq today there wouldn’t be an Iraqi government. There would be chaos. There would probably be genocide, definitely civil war and the main beneficiaries of that would be Iran and Al Qaeda. Instead, Al Qaeda is on the run, on the verge of a terrible defeat or one of our most significant victories over them since 9/11. Maybe the most significant. Iran is being pushed back. Just a couple of weeks ago, prime minister maliki of Iraq went to Tehran and Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader Hamanai pleaded with Maliki, “don’t enter into a long-term strategic agreement with america.” he said, sorry, folks, I want to have good neighborly relations with you but the americans are our friends. We appreciate what they’ve done for us and we’re sticking with them.
SCHIEFFER: Let’s say that John McCain is not elected and in fact Barack Obama is elected. He is talking about withdrawing over a period of a year-and-a-half. What would be the result of that in your view? is the country strong enough to be able to tolerate that now?
LIEBERMAN: Here’s my objection to the continued commitment of Senator Obama to order a withdrawal according to a time schedule. It does not, as far as i’ve heard, depend on what’s happening on the ground. Things are really going well in Iraq today. But what if there’s a crisis of some kind? what if Iran takes some bold and aggressive action? What if there’s a terrible act taken against the leader of Iraq? do you want to continue to withdraw? As we withdraw, which we’re doing now, where Senator McCain has wanted us to do and because the surge is working we’re bringing our troops out. I think general Petraeus is going to announce this summer that we can continue to bring our troops out with victory, with honor and success. But if you just say, as Senator Obama continues the say, no matter what’s happening, I’m taking the troops out, that’s an invitation to real trouble. Churchill once said to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and to accepteding a very uncertain signal to our allies, arab and israeli in the middle east and frankly to our allies all around the world who want us to be strong. They depend on it. John McCain knows that. That’s why they have such confidence in Senator McCain’s leadership.
SCHIEFFER: Charlie black who is the main advisor running the campaign said last week that a terrorist attack on this country would actually help John McCain. A lot of people were kind of… Took a deep breath on that one.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I did too. So did John McCain. You know, charlie is a real pro. Sometimes even the best of them say things that are not what they intended to say. Certainly the implications there I know were not what charlie intended. He apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn’t agree. Of course I feel the same way. But here’s the point. We’re in a war against islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11. They’ve been trying to attack us in many many ways since then. We’ve been very fortunate as a result of 9/11 reform legislation which Senator McCain championed, a lot of good work by people who work for our country that that hasn’t happened. But we need a president who is ready to be commander in chief on day one. Senator McCain, incidentally Senator clinton said that over and over again. She’s right. She was ready to be president on day one. Why? because our enemies will test the new president early. Remember that the truck bombing of the world trade center happened in the first year of the clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the bush administration. John McCain is ready to take the reins on January 20, 2009. He doesn’t need any training.