Sen. Joe Lieberman says the United States should be prepared to take "aggressive military action" against Iran in response to its purported killings of U.S. troops inside Iraq.
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," the Connecticut independent said during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
Mr. Lieberman, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently returned from a trip to the region and said there is evidence that "as many as 200 American soldiers" have been killed by Iranians and Iranian-trained forces. Mr. Lieberman remained firm when asked whether he was suggesting strikes against Iran.
"I am. And I want to make clear I'm not talking about a massive ground invasion of Iran, but we have good evidence," he said. "If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing."
Yesterday, the Iranian government confirmed that it was holding a fourth Iranian-American. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said California peace activist Ali Shakeri was being detained, according to the Associated Press. The American and Iranian governments are at a standoff over Iran's plans for a nuclear energy program that could be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
Mr. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, has been a consistent supporter of the war in Iraq. His views on the war are largely blamed for his Democratic primary loss last year that led to his campaign as an independent in the general election.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, said sanctions are the most effective tool against the Iranian regime.
"I would talk to them, but I would build an international coalition that would promote and push economic sanctions on them," he said during an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition." "Sanctions would work on Iran. They are susceptible to disinvestment policy. They are susceptible to cuts, economic sanctions in commodities."
Mr. Lieberman said he would leave any such strategy to military generals, but that it could be accomplished through an air campaign. He said failure to stand up to Iranian aggression would further weaken the U.S. position in Iraq and raise the likelihood of acts of domestic terrorism.
"We cannot let them get away with it," he said. "If we do, they'll take that as a sign of weakness on our part, and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home."