Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Webb Calls Out Lieberman

Yesterday, Senator James Webb of Virginia offered an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill for 2008 that would require that all service personnel have at least as much dwell-time as they do in the war zone.

Joe “More War” Lieberman denounced Senator Webb’s imminently reasonable amendment. “Give the American soldiers a break,” Lieberman said. “It’s as if the American troops have the enemy on one side and Congress is sniping at their heels on the other side.” He added that Congress is advocating a “defeat, retreat strategy.”

Senate conservatives have announced that they will filibuster the bill.

(I say let them. In fact, I dare them.)

Yes – mandating dwell-time to keep these people from just running them all the way into the ground is anti-soldier. I’ll just note that Senator Lieberman, in spite of being born in 1942, did not serve in the armed forces, and certainly received at least one (confirmed) draft deferment, but the blogger Connecticut Bob speculates the number is much higher, and I think so too, given the years he would have been in college and of draft age, 1960-1967; while Jim Webb certainly did step up when he was called upon to do so, and led a rifle company in Vietnam. Service is not a requirement to serve in elected office – I read Starship Troopers, and I don’t like that idea of citizenship. But when a politician opens him – or her – self up to such criticisms and comparisons the way Lieberman has – well, can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, as a real Democrat once said.

Today, Jim Webb swung back, and hung one of Lieberman’s chin. He reminded one and all that he was warning anyone who would listen – for the last five years - that we were “heading for trouble” if we went to war in Iraq:

I was warning about the consequences of invading and occupying Iraq well before we went in. … I don’t know where Sen. Lieberman gets his opinions about how well we’re doing. […]

You have a government in Iraq that has no power. It has very little power — it cannot compel action and it’s surrounded by armed factions that retain the power. That is not a situation we’re going to resolve without the interaction of all the countries in the region in a positive, proactive diplomatic way. And that’s what I’ve been saying for three years.

Center for American Progress senior fellow Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense, released a statement in support of the bill on the ThinkProgress website:

Regardless of whether a member supports a phased withdrawal of American forces from Iraq or continues to support President Bush’s latest escalation, he or she should support the Webb-Hagel amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill.

It takes two full years at home or after a one year deployment for a unit to become fully combat ready. Spending a year at home after a year in the combat zone is barely enough time to get themselves marginally ready physically and mentally for the next deployment. Giving them last time would mean sending units and individuals into battle who are not combat ready.

Members cannot vote against Webb-Hagel and claim they support the troops. Sending people back for another tour without the same amount of time at home as the length of their tour is wrong strategically and morally. (emphasis mine.)

Folks, here is the link to the U.S. Senate home page. Call and/or email your Senators and demand that they support Webb-Hagel. Just for good measure, here is the page that lists the Class II Senators, those up for reelection in 2008. If your Senator is one of the obstreperous few, and on that list – remind him or her of that salient fact when you contact their office.

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