This morning, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a press conference to express their “pleasure” about President Bush’s statement this morning regarding what he described as “encouraging news from Iraq” and “the success of the surge.”
Lieberman then announced that he and Graham would do their part in celebrating the surge by introducing a resolution in the Senate “recognizing” its “strategic success” in “the central front in the war on terror.” Then, Lieberman went slightly off course, not seeming to recognize just who attacked the United States on 9/11 and from where:
LIEBERMAN: That’s why Senator Graham and I are introducing a resolution recognizing the strategic success that the surge has achieved in a central front — the central front of the war on terror against the enemies who attacked America on 9/11/01, and expressing our thanks to our troops who’ve made that success possible.
It might insult someone’s intelligence to point out the obvious fact that the terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001 terror attacks operated out of Afghanistan, not Iraq. And despite the right wing’s insistence, even the Pentagon has confirmed that “no direct link” ever existed “between late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Al-Qaeda network.”
But Lieberman’s claim indicates that he does not understand the wider problem — namely that the surge prevented the U.S. from sending more troops where they are needed, in Afghanistan. In January 2007, just one week after Bush announced his surge policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that “U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have recommended an increase in U.S. force levels, in part to deal with an expected upsurge in Taliban violence.”
But the troops went to Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan and since then, the security situation there has become worse than its ever been since 2001. U.S. commanders and even Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen have recently acknowledged that they do not have the troops or resources necessary to combat the Taliban and Al-Qaida threat in Afghanistan because of Iraq. Moreover, a new report directly links the troop shortages there to the Taliban’s comeback.
Instead of crafting resolutions declaring victory in “the central front in the ‘war on terror,'” perhaps Lieberman and Graham should spend more time figuring out where that “central front” is.