CNN's Candy Crowley reported that Sen. Joe Lieberman is "opposed to leaving [Iraq] before the job is done." But Crowley's description of Lieberman's stance on the Iraq war falsely suggested that those calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces want to abandon "the job" of establishing a stable, secure, and democratic Iraq.
In an August 8 segment on the contentious Democratic Senate primary election in Connecticut, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reported that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) is "opposed to leaving [Iraq] before the job is done." But Crowley's description of Lieberman's stance on the Iraq war falsely suggested that his Democratic colleagues who have called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces want to abandon "the job" - by which she presumably meant the establishment of a stable, secure, and democratic Iraq. In fact, a central argument put forth by these Democrats is that the heavy U.S. presence in Iraq is exacerbating the security problems in the country and that the only way to ensure the completion of "the job" is to pull out our troops.
On June 22, a majority of the 44 Senate Democrats voted in favor of a resolution put forth by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-DE) calling for the Bush administration to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2006. Lieberman was one of six Democrats to oppose the measure. On the same day, 12 Democrats and independent Jim Jeffords [VT] voted for a resolution sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) that would have called for a deadline of July 1, 2007, for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops. While numerous Republicans and conservatives accused Democrats who backed either measure as advocating a policy of "cut and run" and "abandon[ing] the Iraqis," the supporters themselves made clear in their June 22 statements on the Senate floor that they believe withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would increase the odds of a successful outcome in the country. Following are several examples:
- Sen. Levin: "All Senators want Iraq to end as a success story, every one of us. There is not one Senator who wants anything other than to maximize the chances of success in Iraq. No matter how we voted on the original resolution authorizing force, every one of the 25 or so Senators who voted against that resolution -- and I am one of them -- wants to maximize the chances of success in Iraq. But to do that, we must prod the Iraqis to take the responsibility for their own nation."
- Sen. Kerry: "Setting a deadline to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq is necessary for success in Iraq and victory in the war on terror. Iraqi politicians have proven they only respond to deadlines -- a deadline to transfer authority, deadlines to hold two elections and a referendum, and a deadline to form a government. Now we need another deadline to get Iraq up on its own two feet. Our troops have done their part, it's time for the politicians in Iraq and the United States to do their job."
- Sen. Reed: "[L]et me again remind my colleagues of what the National Security Adviser for Iraq has said. He suggested we should begin withdrawing troops by the end of this year. That is what the Reed-Levin amendment would require. He also suggests and predicts that by the end of 2007 most American combat forces would be out of the country. He says, in his words: 'The eventual removal of coalition troops from Iraqi streets will help the Iraqis, who now see foreign troops as occupiers rather than the liberators they were meant to be. Moreover, the removal of foreign troops will legitimize Iraq's government in the eyes of the people.' " (Floor statement, 6/22/06)
- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV): "The Levin-Reed amendment recognizes that there are only political solutions remaining in Iraq, not military solutions. This amendment rightfully focuses on the need to reconcile the sectarian differences, to regionalize the U.S. strategy, and to revitalize reconstruction efforts. Passage of this amendment would chart a new course, one that is well balanced between the military, the political, the regional, and the international solutions. An open-ended commitment is not sustainable, and the American people know that."
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has similarly argued that redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq would "give Iraq a chance at stability." From a July 20, 2006, speech he delivered at the Center for National Policy:
Our military is now considered occupiers by most Iraqis. Iraq is now in a civil war and our military is caught in the middle. All of us want stability in Iraq. But this goal cannot be achieved by mere words alone, nor by slogans or broad policy statements. The key word is "How." How do we give Iraq a chance at stability? How do we bring stability and security to the Region? [...] Some say that staying in Iraq is the answer. I disagree! [...] [T]he solution to Iraq's security situation cannot be solved by the United States Military. Yet they continue to shoulder the burden. It is up to the Iraqis. The Iraqis must take control of their own security and their own future. We cannot do it for them.
Further, in a July 31 letter to President Bush, Senate and House Democratic leaders asserted that a "phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006." They presented this plan as "an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see."
From the August 8 edition of CNN Live Today:
CROWLEY: It may be that the first political casualty of the war will be a Democrat.
LIEBERMAN: This is all about the Iraq war, all about the anger at the war, and all about the anger -- almost hatred -- among a lot of Democrats toward George Bush.
CROWLEY: Supportive of the war, opposed to leaving before the job is done, Joe Lieberman is watching his career flash before him.