In late July, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said he would introduce a resolution in the Senate to applaud the success of the surge “against enemies who attacked America on 9/11.”
Yesterday, Lieberman introduced the formal amendment (S. Amdt. 5368 to S. 3001), which “expresses the sense of the Senate recognizing the strategic success of the troop surge in Iraq.” In his statement, he linked the surge to 9/11 (via the Congressional Record):
If there is anyone in this Chamber who doubts the strategic stakes in Iraq, I urge them to listen to General Petraeus. Listen to General Petraeus who warned us in an interview published today in the Washington Post that “Iraq is still viewed as the central front for al-Qaida.” Let me repeat that: “Iraq is still viewed as the central front for al-Qaida,” which is to say by al-Qaida. Not Afghanistan, Iraq; not Pakistan, Iraq.
This is not the opinion of a Member of Congress. It is not the opinion of a politician running for office. It is the judgment of America’s most successful battlefield commander in the war on terror which began 7 years ago tomorrow when America was brutally attacked on 9/11/2001.
While the surge has certainly produced calmer streets in Iraq, it has not achieved its primary purpose of facilitating political reconciliation. The surge has essentially frozen into place “a fragmented and increasingly fractured country” and produced an “an oil revenue-fueled, religious Shia-dominated national government with close ties to Iran.”
Lieberman claimed to offer his “bipartisan amendment” (that has no Democratic co-sponsors) in hopes that the “Senate can unite” around it. But speaking in favor of the amendment, Sen. Lindsey Graham quickly politicized it: “General Petraeus said today in the Washington Post, I believe, that Iraq is still the central battlefront in the war on terror. Senator Obama has disagreed with that on numerous occasions, saying it is Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
As Yglesias explains, “An al-Qaeda offshoot only arose in Iraq in the first place because we invaded there and created an appealing venue in which to try to kill American soldiers and bleed American resources.” The current challenge is to refocus on the areas where al Qaeda poses the most significant strategic threat to the United States.