Tuesday, April 10, 2007

CT Senator Responds To Me Via E-mail

A little over a week ago, I sent an e-mail to CT's Senators asking them to clarify their positions and intentions regarding the U.S. in Iraq. Lately, I've been leaning towards calling it what it is... an occupation, rather than a war, but I notice that some politicians are sidestepping even that and referring to it as "military operations in Iraq."

Case in point, an actual response I received from Joe (The Shmoe) Lieberman, who was a lifelong Democrat until his own party made it clear they didn't want him on the Presidential ticket, so he's now unaffiliated. What's the word, he's, um.... Independant. That's it.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. military operations in Iraq. I continue to receive many letters offering suggestions as to how the United States should proceed, and I certainly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

In 2003, I supported the use of force in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power because I believed that he was a grave threat to our country, his people, and the world; and I continue to believe that decision was right. Since then, I have often disagreed with how the war has been run.

And I have not hesitated to speak out about the mistakes the Bush Administration has made,
mistakes that have made this war more costly than it should have been. But I have worked hard to stay away from partisan political attacks because that is unacceptable when our nation is at war. And I continue to believe that how we end our involvement in Iraq will have a significant effect on our security for a long time to come.

The Administration was wrong for not:
(1) securing the support of enough of our allies in the run-up to the war;
(2) having enough troops on the ground;
(3) having a sensible plan to win the peace and establish stability in Iraq after Saddam fell; and
(4) sooner putting the Iraqis in charge of their government and their economy, including their oil supply.

Despite these serious handicaps, we have made some hard-won progress. We have helped the Iraqis to write a constitution, hold three historic democratic elections, form a government, and build an Iraqi army. But the past year since the February 2006 terrorist bombing of the Shiite Mosque in Samara by Al-Qaeda has been painfully disappointing.

The one question that really matters right now is how to move forward and provide a better future for the Iraqi people and more security for the American people. And, in my view, that question is not just about when we get our troops home, but also how we get our troops home and what they leave behind. I believe it is every bit as much of a mistake to stay in Iraq indefinitely, both for the Iraqis and for us; and I have consistently opposed an open-ended commitment of American troops.

I believe the U.S. mission in Iraq is critical to America's national security, and we must do everything possible to try to succeed. America's commitment of military and non-military personnel and other resources must be in response to conditions on the ground as determined by our military commanders, rather than by adherence to arbitrary deadlines.

In December of 2006, I spent ten days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there, all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: while we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is underway. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran and Al-Qaeda. On the other are moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the central battlefield on which that conflict is being fought today. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but our worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on
September 11, 2001.

Because of the bravery of many Iraqi and coalition military personnel and the recent coming together of moderate political forces in Baghdad, I believe the war is still winnable. 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. I have confidence in the ability of the U.S. military to get the job done.

To get this right, we have to put aside our partisan differences; talk to each other with respect; and have an honest, direct discussion about how to go forward now and end this conflict in America's interests. I want to get past the false and empty choice between continuing to do just what we are doing and just giving up and pulling out, both of which are recipes for more failure and less security.

I believe the President's proposal to surge more troops there now is a new approach that can succeed. After speaking with our military commanders and soldiers, I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar province -- an increase that will at last allow the coalition troops and the Iraqi army to establish security throughout the Iraqi capital, hold critical central neighborhoods in the city, clamp down on the insurgency, and defeat Al-Qaeda in that province. We should put a priority on building logistics capabilities in Iraqi units and increasing the strength of the Iraqi security forces. We must ensure that they are supplied with the essentials to sustain the fight against the insurgency, including better equipment and weaponry. Then we must focus more resources on the creation of jobs and the provision of basic services in the greater Baghdad area.

Also, I am glad that the President has moved to form a bipartisan working group on the war on terrorism in this new session of Congress, as he mentioned in his State of the Union address.

We must also get tougher with the Iraqi political leadership. They must do a better job of cracking down on the militias; beefing up the reconstruction efforts; and building a genuine, well-functioning unity government. Success in Iraq can best be built from the center out. Once we prevail in Baghdad, the task of making progress throughout the country will be much more achievable. Success will require more than action in Iraq; it will require supportive action here in Congress.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am closely following the situation in Iraq. I appreciate your taking the time to write me with your thoughts. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as we move forward.

My official Senate web site is designed to be an on-line office that provides access to constituent services, Connecticut-specific information, and an abundance of information about what I am working on in the Senate on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. I am also pleased to let you know that I have launched an email news update service through my web site. You can sign up for that service by visiting
http://lieberman.senate.gov/ and clicking on the "Subscribe Email News Updates" button at the bottom of the home page. I hope these are informative and useful.

Thank you again for letting me know your views and concerns. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.



Joseph I. Lieberman


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