posted by John Nichols
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who began openly and aggressively angling for a war with Iraq just weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and who has been the most ardent advocate for expanding the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, appears to be determined to use the thwarted Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flight as an excuse to launch another crusade for another war.
Lieberman, the neoconservative solon who wanted to be the Secretary of Defense in the administration of John McCain (his 2008 candidate for president) and who would gladly play the same role in the administration of a Sarah Palin or any other saber-rattling Republican, is proposing the launch of a new preemptive war on Yemen.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of attempting to explode a plastic device aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Friday, has told authorities that he traveled to Yemen to link up with al-Qaida operatives.
Lieberman admitted that in a Fox New interview that he was “not sure” whether the Nigerian succeeded in making contact with the individuals he “reached out to” in Yemen.
But “not sure” is good enough for Lieberman.
So, he says, it is time to start lobbing bombs — lots of them. (Presumably, Lieberman is talking about more attacks than have already been taking place as part of a U.S./Yemen partnership that has seen Washington spend $66 million this year on security and military assistance to Yemeni counter-terrorist forces — a project that most observers believe has included the use of U.S. warplanes, drones and/or cruise missiles in recent strikes against al Qaeda targets.)
Referencing his own travels to Yemen, and meetings with unnamed U.S. officials, the senator chirped: “Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”
Lieberman, whose refusal to serve in the military when he could have during the Vietnam era has never prevented him from spouting hawkish views so over-the-top that his wiser colleagues to keep him off committees that deal with issues of war and peace, seems to be unaware that “acting preemptively” in the manner he suggests, is an act of war.
What’s the alternative? Doing what the Bush-Cheney administration failed to do. By working with the international community and employing smart diplomacy and policing strategies, the U.S. might well be able to address concerns about what is happening in Yemen… and Somalia… and Nigeria and a host of other countries.
Of course, Lieberman does not have much taste for smart diplomacy or policing strategies, as is obvious from his hamhanded tenure as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Perhaps instead of getting all excited about starting another war, Lieberman would do better to focus in on the fact that the troubles on Christmas Day did not exactly reflect positive on the homeland security operations for which he is supposed to provide oversight and guidance.