Joseph Lieberman on War & Peace
Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004
LIEBERMAN: I have said repeatedly that the Administration has made mistakes in the execution of this war, and I have constantly made suggestions on things to do to help us succeed there-because the costs of failure are enormous. Last month, I offered a 10-point plan for success in Iraq. The top item was a change in the Secretary of Defense - we need new leadership there. Second I offered specific ways for us to better train the Iraqi security forces to take over their own defense so we can bring our troops home. I'm not prepared to give up on Iraq and I'm not prepared to fail. Ned Lamont has embraced a proposal for withdrawal by July 2007. To me, that's not a plan for success, that's retreat and a recipe for disaster, and it will deeply hurt the American people.
LAMONT: Joe Lieberman & George Bush's stay-the-course strategy - that's the recipe for failure.
SCHLESINGER: What we have in Iraq is not a military problem, but political problem.
LIEBERMAN: The only solution is a two-state solution; peaceful, free Israel next to peaceful, independent Palestine. And the first step must be an end to terrorism. Would I negotiate with terrorist groups? Not while they're terrorists. But, I believe that people are capable of change.
SHARPTON: Would you meet with the head of the Palestinian Authority?
LIEBERMAN: I did not meet with Arafat. Clinton gave him an offer of Palestinian statehood, along with former Prime Minister Barak, that came that close to being enacted, but he turned against it. I would not hesitate to have the US mediate between Israelis and any Palestinian leader who really had declared war against terrorism. Unfortunately, Arafat has not done that. As long as he's there, there's not going to be a real chance for peace.
LIEBERMAN: This is a test of leadership. I don't know how John Kerry and John Edwards can say they support the war but oppose funding. I've been over Clark's record. He took six positions on whether going to war was right.
EDWARDS: Leadership is standing up for what you believe in. I believe Saddam was a threat; I voted for the congressional resolution. Then the president says, "I want $87 billion." I am not willing to give a blank check.
KERRY: I have the experience of being on the front lines when the policy has gone wrong. Our troops are in greater danger because this president's been unwilling to share the burden.
CLARK: I want to make it clear that I would not have voted on $87 billion. The best welfare for the troops is a winning strategy. We ought to call on our commander in chief to produce it. He ought to produce it before he gets one additional penny.
LIEBERMAN: What President Bush gave the American people on Sunday night was a price tag, not a plan. And we in Congress must demand a plan. The president, when he took us to war, which I supported, did not have a plan for what to do the day Saddam Hussein fell. We have a right to demand a plan today, how to get international peacekeepers in, how to get our allies in to help in the rebuilding of Iraq. I would be prepared as president to send American troops in there to protect the 140,000 who are there today, because international peacekeepers may not be there for months to come. Bottom line, to answer your question -- this is a battle in the war on terrorism. Failure and defeat is not an option. We can win it if we work together.
LIEBERMAN: All of us have quite correctly criticized Bush for breaking our most critical alliances. That is exactly what Howard Dean's comments over the last week about the Middle East have done. We have had a unique relationship with Israel. Based on values of democracy, and based on mutual military strategic interests. We do not gain strength as a negotiator if we compromise our support of Israel. Dean has said he wouldn't take sides, but then he has said Israel ought to get out of the West Bank.
DEAN: My position on Israel is exactly the same as Bill Clinton's. I want to be an honest broker. We desperately need peace in the Middle East. It doesn't help to demagogue this issue.
LIEBERMAN: Dean's statements break a 50-year record of supporting our relationship with Israel.
The kinds of weapons that are being developed would allow Iran to threaten friendly Arab states, making it harder for them to cooperate with the US. They would raise the risks to US military forces in the region, and would threaten the free flow of oil in this critical region, which could create crises in places far from the Persian Gulf.
We must act to try to prevent this from happening. [This bill] requires reports on the transfer of certain goods, services, or technologies to Iran. This applies to any entities anywhere in the world, including Russia. It authorizes the President to impose measures against these entities but does not mandate him to do so.
A: My position on Iraq has been clear. And I believe it was the right thing for us to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I have been critical of the things that the administration did after that. But the fact is, we're there now. And we have a choice. And that choice is between helping the Iraqis achieve a free and independent Iraq or abandoning them and letting the terrorists take over. The latter choice is one we cannot make. And I have leveled with people about it and asked them to respect me for having the guts to take an unpopular political position.
LAMONT: Absolutely. Like Chris Dodd, like the heart of the Democratic Party, I supported both of those amendments [setting a deadline for withdrawal]. It's time for us to change course. Time for us to start getting our frontline troops out of harm's way, within the next six months, and we get our troops out of Iraq over the course of the next year. That fundamentally is a change of direction. You have an open-ended stay-the-course strategy.
LIEBERMAN: Absolutely untrue. I have said the sooner we get out of Iraq, the better. But if we get out too soon, it will be a disaster for the Iraqis and for us. If you tell your enemy when you're going to leave, they'll wait and create disaster.
A: I seriously doubt whether Libya would have given up its weapons of mass destruction if we had not overthrown Saddam Hussein, and if the Iranians would have allowed international inspectors come in and looked at their nuclear weapons sites if we had not done that. I've worked to keep our military strong and to know that in a dangerous world, sometimes you have to use that power against dangerous people.
LIEBERMAN: We made the right decision. I didn't need George Bush to convince me that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US. John McCain and I wrote the law that made it national policy to change the regime in Baghdad. This man was a homicidal maniac, killed hundreds of thousands of people, did have weapons of mass destruction in the '90s, used them against the Kurdish Iraqis and the Iranians, admitted to the UN he had enough chemical and biological to kill millions of people, supported terrorism, tried to assassinate former President Bush. I repeat: We are safer with Saddam Hussein in prison than in power.
LIEBERMAN: The overthrow and then capture of Saddam Hussein has made America safer and made the world safer. It has not ended all of our problems or all the threats to our security, but a president has to deal with more than one threat at a time. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly related. We have to stay the course in Iraq now and continue to build a stable, modernizing, democratizing country there. That will show the Arab world what happens as a result of American intervention, that you live better, freer lives, and will send a message to terrorists that we mean business.
Between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there is only one good solution, it is a two-state solution. As president, I would devote time, commit my secretary of state to it, appoint a special ambassador to be there to work with both sides to move along the path to peace. The doors are open now, in part because of our victory in Iraq.
DEAN: I beg to differ. Saddam is a dreadful person and I'm delighted to see him behind bars. But since Saddam Hussein has been caught, we've lost 23 additional troops; we now have, for the first time, American fighter jets escorting commercial airliners through American airspace. Saddam Hussein has been a distraction [from fighting Al Qaeda].
LIEBERMAN: We had good faith differences on the war against Saddam. But I don't know how anybody could say that we're not safer with a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, an enemy of the US, a supporter of terrorism, a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own people in prison instead of in power. To say that we haven't obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren't safer after WWII after we defeated Hitler because Stalin and the communists were still in power.
A: We've learned from history, you cannot set a time line in this kind of situation. You've got to set a goal line. Because if you set a time line by which you're going to exit, your enemy will lay back and then strike when you leave. The goal is to stabilize Iraq. When that happens, we can leave.
A: To me leadership is about doing what you believe is right for the country whether it is politically popular or not. That is the way I felt about my vote in support of the $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a lot of money. We could use a lot of it here at home, but we had a choice to make. I didn't duck it and I didn't play politics around it. I did what I thought was right to support the 135,000 American soldiers that are there. To finish the job of helping the Iraqi people to build a new country. I hope people who don't agree with me on this particular vote will decide that they want someone as their president who does what he believes is right, particularly when it is controversial. That is what I mean when I say I will lead America with integrity.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm going to vote for whatever it takes to protect our troops. But you can't say that you want to protect the troops unless you're willing to send more American troops to protect the ones that are there.
Q: So if the president says, "I need $87 billion to protect the troops," you're ready to say yes to that?
LIEBERMAN: The American people have a right to expect that their president will make tough judgments, and then have the courage to stick with them. I know it's more popular to say you don't want to send more troops. Of course I want international troops in there. But we may have to wait six months until they get there and before then, we may have to send troops to protect the 140,000 Americans who are there now. I'm never, as president, going to leave American troops in harm's way without giving them the support and protection they need.
LIEBERMAN: That statement was made as we were about to go to war. It expressed the best traditions and values of the US, which is when American men and women in uniform go into battle, there's not an inch of space between any of us on that question.
Look, long before George Bush became president, I reached a conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US and to the world, and particularly to his own people who he was brutally suppressing. I believe that the war against Saddam was right, and that the world is safer with him gone. I said last fall and then again a month before the war, "Mr. President, here's what you have to do to get ready to secure post-Saddam Iraq." No planning was done by this administration. I believe it's because this administration divided within itself, and the president as commander in chief has not brought it together.
LIEBERMAN: I would send more troops, because the troops that are there need that protection. And we need some of the specialized services that will help the Iraqis gain control of their country, and mean that sooner American troops could come home. Obviously, Americans have to control an international force. But a year ago I called for an international force.
LIEBERMAN: Oh, I absolutely disagree. Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US and, most particularly, to his neighbors. Remember, this was a man who said he wanted to rule the Arab world, and he invaded two of his neighbors in pursuit of that goal, using chemical weapons against them. We have evidence also over the last several years that he was cooperating with terrorists and supporting them.
We did the right thing, and we gave him 12 years and tried everything short of war to get him to keep the promises he made to disarm at the end of the Gulf War. We did the right thing in fighting this fight, and the American people will be safer as a result of it. And incidentally, no Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense, and this war was a test of that strength.
LIEBERMAN: [Repealing the top tax cuts] is certainly my first choice as to how we should finance this $87 billion. The fact is that the only Americans sacrificing today for our policy in Iraq are the 140,000 Americans who are there in uniform for us. If George Bush had a better, more multilateral foreign policy, we wouldn't have to finance this alone.
But we have no choice but to finance this program for two reasons. We have those 140,000 American troops there. We need to protect them. We need to protect them and bring them home safe to their families. Secondly, we are involved in a great battle in the war on terrorism. Those terrorists have poured in there. They're attacking Americans. They're attacking the institutions of civilization: the United Nations, Jordanian embassy, Muslim mosques. We cannot afford to lose this fight.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since . Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.
"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.
"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.
Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.
Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Commander of Multinational Forces-Iraq and all United States personnel under his command should receive from Congress the full support necessary to carry out the United States mission in Iraq. Expresses the sense of the Senate that:
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