- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

As regular readers of this page are well-aware, we have been quite critical of Sen. Joseph Lieberman's handling of the Enron investigation, particularly his unwillingness to agree to call prominent Democrats like former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin before the Governmental Affairs Committee to explain their actions on behalf of firms like Enron. But, when it comes to understanding the most important foreign policy issues of the day in particular, the need to explain to the American public why President Bush is right to forge ahead with plans to overthrow Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein Mr. Lieberman is providing exactly the right kind of leadership.

Saddam is "a ticking time bomb for the U.S.," Mr. Lieberman, a possible presidential candidate in 2004, told Seth Gitell of the Boston Phoenix during a visit to New Hampshire in March. "The case is there: He has weapons of mass destruction, hates the United States, has used the weapons [of mass destruction] against Iraqis and Iranians, and tried to kill President Bush," the current president's father, during a 1993 visit to Kuwait. Asked about congressional Democrats' reluctance to support action against Baghdad, Mr. Lieberman said flatly: "I'm going to do everything I can to rally Democratic support for an anti-Saddam move."

Among Democrats, Mr. Lieberman takes a back seat to no one when it comes to understanding the danger posed by Saddam and being willing to act on it. In 1991, when the overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats (including possible 2004 presidential candidates like Sens. Joseph Biden, Tom Daschle and John Kerry) were voting against the first President Bush's military action to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, Mr. Lieberman was one of just 10 Senate Democrats to make the right decision and support the president.

It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Lieberman's longstanding approach to foreign policy issues is much like the one taken by the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington during the Cold War. A liberal on most domestic issues, Mr. Jackson, a tenacious foe of totalitarianism in all its forms, continually broke with liberals on national security issues by supporting higher defense budgets and asking tough questions about arms-control treaties, including the SALT II pact negotiated by then-President Carter, a fellow Democrat. Mr. Jackson, who died in 1983, did not live to see his world-view vindicated by the collapse of communism less than a decade later.

So far as America's current foreign policy challenge the war against international terrorism and the sort of rogue-state totalitarianism represented by rulers like Saddam is concerned, Mr. Lieberman will eventually see his own statesmanlike approach to foreign policy vindicated as well.

Like Scoop Jackson, who became well known for his willingness to engage the very dovish wing of the Democratic Party represented by Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, Mr. Lieberman shines when compared with potential rivals like Messrs. Kerry, Daschle and Biden (broadly speaking, the modern-day McGovern wing of the party). Messrs. Kerry and Daschle rarely miss an opportunity to question Mr. Bush for taking a tough stand against Iraq and other radical states. And Mr. Biden, who now suggests he could support military action against Saddam, is calling on the White House to push for another round of U.N. weapons inspections before moving against Saddam. But the reality is that the Iraqi tyrant will never permit any useful inspections to take place.

Mr. Lieberman deserves commendation for challenging the modern-day political Left in his own party to come to grips with the reality that America needs to take on Saddam sooner, rather than later.

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