News & Politics

Lieberman Creates New Imaginary Foe: Al Qaeda in Iran

It’s hard not to chuckle a bit hearing Lieberman criticize Barack Obama’s “credibility” on Iraq.

We’ve seen more than a few instances of late in which John McCain has made comments about foreign policy that didn’t make any sense, only to have Joe Lieberman intervene, whisper in his ear, and walk the Republican presidential candidate back a bit. It’s easy to get the sense that while McCain is confused about current events, Lieberman is at least vaguely aware of reality. His judgment is clearly wrong, but there’s still some attachment to reality.

But maybe this assumption is off-base, too. Consider Lieberman’s criticisms of Barack Obama on (where else?) Fox News yesterday. (Jane Hamsher has the video.)
“[L]et me say generally that Sen. Obama doesn’t come to this debate with a lot of credibility. Basically on the question of Iraq, John McCain has had the guts to stand out on his own arguing for what he thought was right. And it turned out that he was right about the surge working to improve conditions in Iraq.
“If we did what Sen. Obama wanted us to do last year, Al-Qaeda in Iran would be in control of Iraq today. The whole Middle East would be in turmoil and American security and credibility would be jeopardized.
“On the specific question of the 100 years, I think that’s an unfortunate example of the way Sen. Obama has used it, of playing political gotcha with a national security question.
“If you look at what Sen. McCain said, in that exchange, in a town-hall meeting I believe it was in New Hampshire, he wasn’t talking about a long war. He’d like to see our troops — as many of them as possible — come home as soon as possible from Iraq.
“But the fact is we’re going to need, as we have after every conflict we’ve been in — World War II, Korea, etc., we’re going want to leave troops there to secure the peace that our soldiers have won. It’s clear that’s what he meant.”

It’s hard not to chuckle a bit hearing Lieberman criticize Barack Obama’s “credibility” on Iraq. Not only was Obama right about the war, but nearly everything Lieberman said after the criticism was utterly ridiculous.

First, Lieberman’s take on history is simply mistaken. Second, his argument that the surge has worked is transparently silly.

But the real gem here is Lieberman’s argument that if we had left Iraq a year ago, “al Qaeda in Iran would be in control of Iraq today.”
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.