Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Escalation in Iraq: Lieberman v. Collins

In July 2006, during the Democratic Primary debate, Senator Lieberman had this to say about troop levels in Iraq:

The situation in Iraq is a lot better, different than it was a year ago. The Iraqis held three elections. They formed a unity government. They are on the way to building a free and independent Iraq. Their military -- two-thirds of their military is now ready, on their own, to lead the fight with some logistical backing from the U.S. or stand up on their own totally.
So I am confident that the situation is improving enough on the ground that by the end of this year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops, and by the end of the next year more than half of the troops who are there now will be home.

In case you don't have access to a calendar or have been under a rock for the last week and a half, the end of that year has passed and Senator Lieberman now has this to say about troop levels in Iraq:

"After speaking with our military commanders on the ground," he said Wednesday in an e-mail, "I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad."

Lieberman, D-Conn., visited Iraq last week with a Senate delegation.

And this:

I've just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there...
After speaking with our military commanders and soldiers there, I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar province...
[Aside: Check out the comments to the Wa-Po Editorial, here.]

Greg Sargent, at The Horse's Mouth, wondered who the commanders were, noting that Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-highest-ranking American officer in Iraq have all resisted a troop increase.

Senator Collins (R-ME), who was part of the same delegation of Senators in Iraq, wrote an Op-Ed for the Maine newspapers (not yet available online except on the Senator's webpage, here) and she apparently met with different commanders:

Needless to say, there was much discussion in all of our meetings - whether with Iraqi leaders, American or British commanders, or rank-and-file troops - about whether or not more American troops are needed. My conclusion is that it would be a mistake to send more troops to Baghdad. Prime Minister Maliki did not welcome the prospect of more American troops and indeed seemed frustrated that he did not have more control over his own troops. One American general told me that a jobs program in Baghdad would do more good than additional troops. And it seems to me that the Iraqis themselves need to step up to deal with the sectarian violence plaguing the Baghdad region. Ultimately, resolving the sectarian violence requires a political, not a military, solution in which the Sunni minority is more fully integrated into the government.

The one region where an American commander, General Kilmer, did specifically express the need for more troops was in Anbar province. General Kilmer told us that he could use another brigade (about 3,000 troops) or even two to build on the positive developments in the region. I agree with his assessment, but think that a reallocation of troops, rather than an overall increase, could meet his need.

So who did Senator Lieberman speak with, leading him to believe that the answer in Iraq is more troops? And was Senator Collins not included in those discussions or did she just draw radically different conclusions based on the same available evidence?

Or is someone not being entirely truthful?

Transcript, Lieberman, Lamont Spar in Conn. Primary Debate, Washington Post, July 7, 2006.
David Lightman, Lieberman Presses Case For More Troops In Iraq, Hartford Courant, December 21, 2006.
Joseph Lieberman, Why We Need More Troops in Iraq, Washington Post, December 29, 2006.
Susan Collins, Iraq and Afghanistan: An Update from the Field, Webpage, December 29, 2006 (released to Maine newspapers for publication as an Op-Ed)


CT Bob said...

Good post, Gabe. You're asking the right questions.

Now if we can only get the mainstream media to wake up and ask the same questions.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as the mainstream media elected Lieberman, I doubt he's worried about them exposing this latest contradiction; they gave him a free pass when he 180'd on Iraq after the primary, and again when he flipped back to the Bush position two months later. Collins, on the other hand, has not only the donors and stigma of a Washington Republican but the actually dreaded tag itself, and thus she's seriously worried about being Chaffeed in a year and a half; consequently, in a bizarre and unexpected twist, we get honesty! And then, in contrast, we get Lieberman.

Anonymous said...

This whole sectarian violence situation has been exasperated by the disgraceful handling of the execution of Saddam Hussein by the Shiite controlled democracy we set up in Iraq. Stay tuned for more turmoil. And BTW, the military commanders on the ground in Iraq are furious about how the execution was handled once they turned over Hussein and withdrew form the scene. The Sunnis will take their anger out on our guys. Shit!!!!

Anonymous said...

McCain today offered Lieberman's re-election as evidence that the '06 election was not, in fact, a referendum on the Iraq War. Look for this talking point in the mouth of every Sabbath Gasbag and in the column of every Establishment Pundit.

Start the draft in Connecticut.

Anonymous said...

Lieberman talked to the commanders on the ground and found that they were wrong about not increasing troop levels. He's an expert on this stuff and wants what israel wants. And let's not forget that Abizaid who doesn't want more roops is retiring and will soon be replaced by a Geeneral who wants what Bush wants and that's probably more troops. Lieberman is just playing politics with American lives because he beleives in Bush's Holy WAR against the Islamofacists.