courant.com | `We Do Have A Plan'
`We Do Have A Plan'
Returning From Iraq, Lieberman Praises U.S. Strategy, Urges Bush To Tout Successes
November 29, 2005
By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, just back from Iraq, wants President Bush to give the American people details about the progress being made in that country - from military triumphs to the proliferation of cellphones and satellite dishes.
Bush is scheduled to give the nation a progress report on Iraq Wednesday, his first such address since Congress erupted two weeks ago in bitter debate over the war.
Supporters and critics alike have been urging the president to outline his strategy for some time.
Critics sense a mission adrift. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., visited Iraq last month, and came away saying "we need a major course correction" in American policy - notably "we need to let Iraqis know we're not there forever."
But Lieberman, D-Conn., who spent Wednesday and Thursday in Iraq, saw strong evidence that a workable American plan is in place.
"We do have a strategy," he said. "We do have a plan. I saw a strategy that's being implemented."
Lieberman, who is one of Bush's strongest war supporters in the Senate, cited the remarks of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who last month told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the strategy in Iraq was to "clear, hold and build: to clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions."
Lieberman spent his time in Iraq, his fourth trip there in 17 months, conferring with American officials and Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, the country's interior and defense ministers, and senior members of the Supreme Council. He also talked with about 50 Connecticut troops.
Other war backers shared the belief that the strategy would work. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, said he was "pretty optimistic" after his 10th trip to Iraq last month.
"The [Iraqi] troops are moving forward in a very positive way," Shays reported.
Lieberman and others acknowledge that the White House has a huge public relations task convincing the American people that the United States has a clear, winnable mission.
The White House has not released details of the speech Bush is scheduled to deliver at the U.S. Naval Academy Wednesday, but the president's supporters have been urging him to provide specifics about his plans.