WASHINGTON – Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) on Monday urged an end to partisan bickering over the Iraq war, saying such debate hurts U.S. efforts on the battlefield by demoralizing soldiers and encouraging the enemy.
In a speech to the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution (search), the Connecticut senator and former Democratic presidential candidate said the two major political parties aren't far apart on key issues surrounding the conflict.
He noted that President Bush and Democratic presidential rival John Kerry (search) agree that the United States must not abandon Iraq, that more troops are needed and that the international community should be more involved.
But he said partisan bickering — expected to follow Thursday's scheduled testimony by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) before the independent Sept. 11 commission and Saturday's first anniversary of Bush's speech celebrating the fall of Baghdad — hurts the country's efforts on the battlefield.
"We can no longer afford such partisan politics as usual" because it "encourages our enemies" and confuses or demoralizes the soldiers serving in Iraq, Lieberman said.
He said Republicans and Democrats should continue to disagree and debate many Iraq policy questions, including the cost, international participation and the transfer of authority to a new Iraqi government.
But the two sides, he said, must "secure a political peace here at home to help achieve a military victory in Iraq."
Lieberman, who also called for the creation of a bipartisan war council, said agreeing on the war won't hurt Democrats' efforts to oust Bush because Kerry has many other issues to raise in the campaign against Bush.
He acknowledged, however, that the heightened political atmosphere heading into the Nov. 2 presidential election may make complicate the goal of bipartisanship. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Lieberman said.