In an op-ed appearing in today's Washington Post, Joe Lieberman manages to hit every talking point from the Bush administration to support the escalation of the war in Iraq. From invoking September 11th, to denying the reality of civil war, to "victory in Iraq," he doesn't miss a beat. Rarely has such delusional, disingenuous flag-waving been seen outside of a White House press conference.
After taking care of the 9/11 reference in his opening paragraph, Lieberman lays out his case for escalation:
Because of ...the recent coming together of moderate political forces in Baghdad, the war is winnable.
Surely this isn't the recent "coming together" he speaks of :
Iraq's most revered Shiite Muslim cleric has rejected calls for a U.S.-backed effort to form a bloc of moderate Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders to isolate extremists in the government, Shiite leaders said Saturday. [...]
Sistani's endorsement of the proposal was considered key. But during the meeting, Shiite leaders said, Sistani called on them to keep the 130-member United Iraqi Alliance intact.
For the record, that's the alliance that includes Moqtada al-Sadr. But Lieberman pretends that the proposed moderate alliance is alive and well because that means the war is winnable. Much like he pretends that opposition to this war is simply frustration.
The American people are justifiably frustrated by the lack of progress, and the price paid by our heroic troops and their families has been heavy. But what is needed now, especially in Washington and Baghdad, is not despair but decisive action -- and soon.
What the American people think is needed is an end to this war, not an escalation of the mistake. And beyond that, it's frustrating to lose your keys. It's frustrating to be stuck in traffic. To describe the American people's feelings about this war as frustration is dismissive and insulting.
Lieberman goes on to explain that the "most pressing problem" in Iraq is a lack of security. One can't help but wonder whether he required his own study group to come up with that bit of breaking news. And then, perhaps realizing that he had written several sentences without a recognizable talking point from the administration, Lieberman says:
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.
If? Iraq descended into civil war long ago. But ignoring that obvious reality, Lieberman moves onto the point of the op-ed:
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.
But does he believe it as strongly as he did last year when he said:
If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007,
Or as strongly as he did six months ago when he said:
I believe, that we will be able to withdraw a significant number of our men and women in uniform from Iraq by the end of this year and even more by next year.
Which belief should we believe? Or more to the point, how many times can someone be wrong and still be taken seriously? To be fair, Lieberman didn't base everything on gut instinct. He talked to military people in Iraq and they assured him that they wanted more troops. Particularly touching was the anonymous plea Lieberman said he received to "finish the fight." It's too bad he didn't take the time to talk to people who were willing to give their names. People like Spc. Don Roberts, who said:
I don't know what could help at this point. What would more guys do? We can't pick sides. It's almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions.
Or Sgt. Josh Keim:
Nothing's going to help. It's a religious war, and we're caught in the middle of it. It's hard to be somewhere where there's no mission and we just drive around.
But hey, what do they know? They probably don't believe strongly enough. Lieberman says:
In nearly four years of war, there have never been sufficient troops dispatched to accomplish our vital mission. The troop surge should be militarily meaningful in size, with a clearly defined mission.
Like the one he described last November?
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.
It seems that sufficient troop strength would have been a part of a good plan and strategy for victory, doesn't it? Was he lying then or is he dissembling now?
Lieberman finishes by saying:
Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq.
In other words, instead of facing reality and listening to what the American people want, we must continue and escalate the disastrous course in Iraq that we've followed for nearly four years. And somehow you know that this is something that Joe Lieberman strongly believes.