"Terrorists...terrorists...terrorists. Gotta fight 'em in Iraq before they strike us again here." Sound like President Bush? Guess again. It's Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), this year's winner of the Zell Miller Republican Wannabe Award, whose Wall Street Journal Op-Ed this week will surely earn him a seat at the Friday night White House Iraq Group poker table.
The hawkish Lieberman seems more pro-war than the Bushies, if that seems possible. In his WSJ piece he used the term "terrorist" nine times and fires off Cheney-quality hyperbole and red flags concerning the war:
"I can report real progress in Iraq; progress is visible and practical"
"It is a war between 27 million people and 10,000 terrorists"
"If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again"
"None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S."
"I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into war in Iraq almost 3 years ago...than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead"
"Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do."
"Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to lead the fight themselves"
I'm not exactly sure what Lieberman's motivation is, and what he has to gain by vociferously promoting the Bush war message. But he appears wildly out of touch with reality, and out of synch with many of his Senate peers with stellar military expertise, including John Murtha (D-PA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Biden (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Hagel (NEB) and Richard Lugar (D-IN), all of whom have been critical of the administration's planning and execution of the war, the absence of real progress, and the lack of a coherent exit strategy.
Lieberman also irresponsibly lobs the Bush/Cheney Weapon of Mass Deception by blatantly connecting the "terrorists" we're fighting in Iraq with those who attacked us on 9-11. Consider the president's own words in his Annapolis speech Wednesday in describing the significance of the various factions of the enemy: "The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein. And they reject an Iraq in which they're no longer the dominant group...The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein, people who still harbor dreams of returning to power...The third group is the smallest but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al-Qaida."
But even his own analysis of the enemy doesn't stop him from regurgitating his standard alarm-sounding rhetoric: "Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity. And so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror." What the Bushies, and now Zell Lieberman, have been shamelessly trying to convince America is that the war in Iraq is a war against our 9-11 enemies. And this clearly is not the case. It's both irresponsible and reprehensible for Lieberman to now be echoing the Bush lies.
As far as the alleged "progress" being made in Iraq, electricity and oil production is at pre-war levels, and unemployment stands at 60%. And regarding military progress, specifically in terms of independent Iraqi battalions, consider the September 29th testimony of Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, before the Senate Armed Services Committee when pressed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
McCAIN: General Abizaid, there was a report sent over, I think last June, that three of the hundred Iraqi battalions were fully trained and equipped, capable of operating independently. What is that number now?
ABIZAID: The number now is, if you're talking about level-one trained --
ABIZAID: It's one.
McCAIN: At one battalion?
So in Bushspeak, three becoming one equals progress. And Sen. Lieberman appears all too happy, for whatever reasons, to break party ranks, perpetuate the lies, and pound the table in support of Bush's war and the president himself.