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Posted by on Feb 26, 2007 in At TMV | 31 comments

Lieberman in WSJ: The Choice on Iraq

Senator Joe Lieberman wrote an OP-ED for the Wall Street Journal called “The Choice on Iraq”. In it he defends the surge and calls on the Democrats to change their approach towards the war / surge.

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq–or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?

If we stopped the legislative maneuvering and looked to Baghdad, we would see what the new security strategy actually entails and how dramatically it differs from previous efforts. For the first time in the Iraqi capital, the focus of the U.S. military is not just training indigenous forces or chasing down insurgents, but ensuring basic security–meaning an end, at last, to the large-scale sectarian slaughter and ethnic cleansing that has paralyzed Iraq for the past year.

He goes on to write that the situation is much better right now than, say, a month ago: there is a new commander, a new strategy, there are more American troops on the ground, the U.S. is in a better position to fight extremists while empowering moderates, andsoforth, andsoforth. Although the situation has improved – so he writes – nobody can say whether the surge will work or not. It might work, it might not work. It looks good for now, but nobody can be sure about its outcome.

However, all of that doesn’t matter to opponents of the war in Congress. They already ruled out that the surge could be successful before it even started. Despite this ‘knowledge’, despite being ‘sure’ that the surge won’t work, that it’s a waste of money and of lives, the opponents of the war strangely refuse to actually do something about it by, for instance, cutting off funds. A nonbinding resolution here, a nonbinding resolution there, but how about actually doing something effective?

Anyway, Lieberman’s main message is not that – his main message is; lets give the surge a try. Because we simply don’t know whether it will work or not, because there is so much at stake, and because the situation has changed quite drastically (for the better) recently, opponents of the war and its supporters should agree to let the entire debate rest until the summer when general Petraeus will be able to say whether or not significant progress has been made.

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