The noted hawk and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman, told a GOP conference today that he believes the Taliban are in retreat and cautioned that :"very few" American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan this summer.
"We really have begun to turn the tide. That means, very specifically, we are beginning to push the Taliban out in this very necessary war," said Lieberman, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan with Senators John McCain, of Arizona, Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
With a keen eye on those from his former party who are skeptical of the war effort and on the Tea Party Republicans, Lieberman said he thought the American public should be "reassured" by what is happening in the former base of Osama Bin Laden. "The insurgency is in retreat," he said. "Simply put, America has gotten its act together in Afghanistan and so, increasingly, have the Afghan security forces."
But that is not reason to begin withdrawing US troops this summer, he said, cautioning that any withdrawals must be condition-based.
Lieberman, asked by GOP guru Bill Kristol, said his greatest worry on the American front is an alliance between Democrats opposed to the war and those "...I-hate-to-use-the-word-isolationist-but..." Republicans. However, Kristol said he had spoken with a number of tea Party supporters and said he had "never actually encountered" isolationist sentiment among the Tea Party.
On the broader strategic front Lieberman told the Foreign Policy Initiative conference that he consistently hears from allies “unmistakable uncertainty about our staying power.” His comment echoed recent statements by Sen. McCain, Rep. Buck McKeon, presumptive chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and a host of commentators that America may be in a state of global decline. Addressing and correcting what he clearly believes is a misperception, Lieberman said, "is in our national interest."
Buzz readers will remember the recent report issued by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments which tackled this argument head on. It was not the first word on the issue, of course. Two influential national security analysts argued the case for American declined before Congress last year.