Yesterday, in his first major policy speech on Iraq since his loss in the primary election to Ned Lamont, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman called “for the number of United States troops embedded with Iraqi forces to be doubled or tripled, to speed up the training of the Iraqis and help hasten the withdrawal of the Americans.”
Lieberman also attacked Ned Lamont yesterday, portraying Lamont’s position on the “withdrawal of American troops as “giving up on Iraq.”” Things got testy between Lieberman and Lamont as the debate on Iraq heated up. Lieberman’s speech also came on the heels of the latest NIE report, which “concluded that as result of the war in Iraq, the overall terrorist threat to the United States has grown rather than diminished since the Sept. 11 attacks.”
Like other Democrats around the country, Mr. Lamont seized on the report, saying it showed that the policies of the Bush administration had failed, and he said that Mr. Lieberman had continued to support them. “Trying to make a military statement there is just making the situation worse,” Mr. Lamont said on Monday during a campaign stop in New Haven, adding that Mr. Lieberman was still calling for “more of the same.”
John Kerry got into the mix today and responded to the Iraq debate between Lieberman and Lamont with a statement showing his clear support for Ned Lamont, who Kerry endorsed right after the Connecticut primary:
“Iraq has been a national security disaster and a terrible set-back in the war on terror. As Robert Kennedy said of Vietnam, there is enough blame to go around. We must all accept our responsibility to change course. We don’t need misleading speeches. We don’t need slogans. We need leaders who will tell it straight and stand up to this administration and say it’s time to change course. Ned Lamont is providing that kind of leadership.
Senator Lieberman and I disagree deeply and profoundly on Iraq. No matter how much Senator Lieberman pretends otherwise, as we were debating a Senate resolution to change course on Iraq, our intelligence agencies were telling this Administration that America is less safe and more endangered by terrorists because of the failed stay-the-course policies in Iraq. There’s just no excuse for continuing the old line that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror when in fact we know Iraq is a recruiting poster for terrorists while the real war on terror in Afghanistan spirals downwards.
The maxim that we’ll stand down as Iraqis stand up is a myth. We need a deadline for the redeployment of American troops to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. Aimless talk of stay the course is making things worse. Every time the Administration says we’ll stay as long as it takes is an excuse for Iraqis to take as long as they want. We are stuck in a growing civil war that sets us back in the war on terror. It does a disservice to our troops to stick with a broken policy over and over again and expect different results. We need leadership with the courage to change course.”