The Real Choice on Iraq

Dear Senator Lieberman,

Fifteen months ago, in an href="">op-ed
in the Wall Street Journal praising the Bush Administration's
Iraq policy, you asked the rhetorical question, "does America have a
good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq?"

"Yes," we did, you answered.

Since the day you wrote those words, over href="">1,000
more American troops have lost their lives in Iraq and that country is
more dangerous than ever.

Senator, you had it exactly wrong then, and this week, in another
Wall Street Journal href="">op-ed
entitled "The Choice on Iraq," you have managed to get it exactly
wrong yet again.

"As the battle for Baghdad just gets underway," you write in this
week's piece, congressional opponents of the escalation "have already
made up their minds about America's cause in Iraq."

On the contrary, Senator, it was you and President Bush who had
already made up your minds before the war started, using cherry-picked
intelligence to sell the war to the American people. And if the battle
for Baghdad is "just getting underway," how do we explain the
escalating violence over the last four years?

You claim that "a precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security
vacuum in its wake."

Actually, Senator, it was the precipitous invasion that you supported,
along with its disastrous aftermath, which left the security vacuum
that exists today - a vacuum which the terrorists, insurgents, and
militias have all rushed to fill.

You plead for elected officials to "come together around a
constructive legislative agenda for our security."

Senator, we have already done this. The result was the bipartisan
(remember that word?) href="">Baker-Hamilton
report which called for a redeployment of our troops over twelve
months, plus aggressive diplomacy, as our best hope to bring stability
to the region. The report's conclusions were widely accepted by a
strong majority of Democrats and Republicans, and then promptly
disregarded by you, the President, and all those who had "already made
up their minds," the facts be damned.

You worry that Washington is removed "from what is actually happening in Iraq."

Senator, Generals Abizaid and Casey were on the ground in Iraq and
opposed the escalation. They recommended a phased redeployment of our
combat troops. But rather than listen to them and redeploy the troops,
President Bush redeployed his generals, and escalated the war.

On November 8th of last year, while voters across the country were
giving Democrats a mandate to change course on Iraq, you were able to
muddy the real "Choice on Iraq" for the voters of Connecticut. They
thought they were choosing between two candidates who anticipated
"significant" troop reductions by the end of the year, who both wanted
"to bring our troops home."

Senator, one of us still believes in those words we spoke during the campaign.

The American people and our military experts have already made their
"Choice on Iraq" quite clear. It is now up to all of our elected
representatives to follow their lead.


Ned Lamont