Former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman blasted President Obama’s Iraq drawdown over the weekend, saying that the president’s “statement [was] of failure, not success.”
“This failure puts at greater risk all that so many Americans and Iraqis fought, sacrificed, and, in thousands of cases, gave their lives to achieve: an Iraq that is self-governing, self-defending, and aligned with the responsible nations of the world in the fight against Islamist extremism and terrorism.
“It is profoundly disappointing and unsettling that after all America and Iraq have been through together, our two leaders could not find the will or the way to reach agreement on the terms under which a small follow-on U.S. force could remain in Iraq after this year, despite the many reasons it was critically important, and instead gave up trying. This decision stands in striking contrast with the spirit of the remarkable men and women in uniform who pulled Iraq back from the brink of chaos just a few years ago, and who refused to give up or accept failure even after all hope was seemingly lost.
“I was not in the negotiations or privy to what was happening inside both governments so I cannot apportion blame for this failure, but I know that every American military leader I have spoken to in recent years with any responsibility for Iraq has told me that we would need to keep no less than 10,000 troops there after this year to complete our mission in Iraq, since the Iraqi Security Forces still lack key capabilities and the country's stability remains fragile. Leaders of Iraq's military have made similar statements as recently as yesterday.
“I am proud and grateful for all that the American military has achieved in Iraq, and delighted that most of these heroes have already returned home, but I am convinced that a small number of them are needed to stay a while longer to safeguard our hard-won gains. The fact that they will not is deeply worrisome for America's national security, and will be deeply thrilling and encouraging to the fanatical regime that controls Iran, seeks to control Iraq, and threatens us all.
“I hope that, despite yesterday's announcement, the Obama Administration will seek to reach agreement with the Iraqis on an arrangement that advances U.S. national security and allows a small American military force to operate in Iraq, until the Iraqis are ready to safeguard their country against Iran and other threats.”