A few interesting comments from Lieberman defenders

The Wall St Journal (From their accessible, non-subscription OpinionJournal.) defends both Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. McCain is described as having "reacted with admirable restraint" in response to a student who declared in her speech:

"I am young and though I don't possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction."

Yep, poor John McCain, having to respond to a "rude" student who points out the complete failures of his hero, Bush.

Poor, pitiful Joe Lieberman is described as facing "political extinction" because of "his pro-war views." Actually, as firedoglake points out by quoting Paul Krugman of the New York Times, the issue is very considerably more than just the war. Lieberman is a perfectly fine American Senator, he's just not a very good Democrat. He consistently puts his own political benefit above that of the Democratic Party as a whole.

But in any event, the WSJ then makes a wildly inaccurate statement:

"The left's larger goal is to turn the Democratic Party solidly against the war on terror, and especially against its Iraq and Iran fronts."

The War on Terror on the left side of the aisle is understood to apply strictly to al Qaeda and to various terrorist attacks around the world. The Iraq War and the upcoming Iran War are understood to be imperial grabs for natural resources, i.e. oil. The idea behind these two wars is not necessarily to get the natural resources for American use so much as it is to monopolize those resources and control access to them by the up-and-coming economic powers India and China. The political left has always understood that these two conquests had nothing to do with al Qaeda save in a purely talking-point, propagandistic context.

As with the student quoted above, the left has continued to point out that the Bush Administration, at best, allowed 9-11 to occur through a combination of negligence, incompetence and dereliction of duty. Why might the left be "enraged" and "rude"? Gee, let's review - the WOT is launched in response to an attack that could have been prevented had either the press or the Bush Administration kept their eyes on the ball, the emotional energy that was unleashed in response to the 9-11 attacks are diverted into an imperial grab for resources and there is considerable evidence that John Kerry actually won the last election. Golly, I can't imagine why the left might be angry!

Back to the WSJ:

"We doubt all of this will help Democrats with the larger electorate, which whatever its doubts about Iraq does not want a precipitous surrender."

Straw-man time again! The WSJ skips over the argument about whether or not it's wise to withdraw from Iraq and goes directly to the unsubstantiated accusation that the left wants a "precipitous surrender." The political left as a whole does not have a unifed position on when and how to pull out of Iraq. Generally, the left would like to have it be as soon as possible. The proposal made by Congressman Murtha to "Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize", i.e. to pull off to bases that are still within Iraq or the Gulf, but in any event outside of Iraq's population centers has aroused a good deal of support on the left despite not being a complete pull-out.

In other words, the left is quite willing to be reasonable and pragmatic about how the pull-out is done.

UPDATE #1: Yes, al Qaeda appears to be actively taking part in the Iraq War on the other side from American troops in Iraq, but the important question there is: Will al Qaeda reman in Iraq if and when US troops leave? Doubtful. Al Qaeda is in Iraq for the purpose of fighting American troops, both to cause damage to American military capabilities and perhaps more importantly, to get experience in fighting Americans and to learn how to better ambush and attack American troops. Once Americans leave, al Qaeda might have other reasons to stick around, but the major current reason for being in Iraq will have disappeared.

Iraqis currently have reason to cover for and assist al Qaeda because al Qaeda is assisiting Iraqis to throw American troops out of their country. Once Americans leave, it's difficult to see why Iraqis would want to keep al Qaeda around. As both Iraqis and al Qaeda currently use the same supply sources and hiding places and tactics, it's hard to see how al Qaeda could survivie a determined Iraqi attempt to expel them. As foreign jihadists and al Qaeda have never constituted more than 3% to 5% of the forces opposing US troops in Iraq, they'd quickly find themselves in a very uneven fight if they tried to stay.

So, is there currently reason to say there's a connection between Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda? Yes.
Would that alliance survive a US departure from Iraq? Doubtful.

UPDATE #2: Rabbi Michael Lerner, prominent progressive Jewish activist and founder of Tikkun, has come out with a salute to a collection of articles on 9-11.in which he endorses concerns that the World Trade Center towers could not have fallen down merely due to being hit by airplanes and that activists should try to tell the story in a way that minimizes the evil people involved and instead stresses turning 9-11 from a theoretical concern into an activist project. In fact, Rabbi Lerner emphasizes that a truth-seeking alliance could heal wounds left by the destruction of that day.

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