January 29th, 2009
05:36 PM ET
9 years ago

In sharp reversal, Lieberman praises Obama's Afghanistan policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/art.liebermanmac0129.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Lieberman ardently backed Sen. McCain for president but he spoke favorably about President Obama Thursday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Months after slamming then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's world view as "naive," Sen. Joe Lieberman reversed course in a critical foreign policy arena Thursday, praising the new administration's approach in Afghanistan.

The former Democratic vice presidential nominee from Connecticut told an audience at the Brookings Institution he is optimistic the United States can turn the tide in the former Taliban stronghold in part because "President Obama has made very clear that this is a war he intends to win and he has moved swiftly to take command of it."

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined the administration's plans to deploy two additional brigades to Afghanistan by spring and a third by late summer, a total of about 15,000 more troops plus support staff.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, has requested 30,000 additional troops and support staff to help wrestle away gains made by the Taliban over the past year. While not opposing McKiernan's request, Gates
indicated that more time will be required to build out the required infrastructure in Afghanistan to support additional troops.

Lieberman, widely viewed as having hawkish views in the war on terror, backed Obama's call to deploy additional forces to the region. He also said he
approves of the president's appointment of former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"My advice to anyone who is hedging their bets in South Asia: the combination of Dick Holbrooke and (General) Dave Petraeus, led by Hillary Clinton and (Defense Secretary) Bob Gates, is not a team I would bet against," Lieberman said.

He said that, in addition to a troop surge, U.S. policy in Afghanistan also needs a surge in the "strategic coherence of our war effort," as well as greater diplomatic outreach and cooperation from Afghans themselves.

"The problem in Afghanistan today is not only that we have devoted too few resources, but that the resources we have devoted are being applied incoherently," he said.

Lieberman, a self-styled "Independent Democrat" since losing his party's 2006 Senate primary in Connecticut, previously argued that Obama was little more than an "eloquent young man" with a thin resume. He enraged other Democrats during the campaign by endorsing the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.

Filed under: Joe Lieberman • President Obama
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. L.A. Woman

    And we care what Lieberman thinks because???

    January 29, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Simmy

    A lot to be said about keeping enemies closer. Touche President Obama.

    January 29, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. D.Kimbro OHIO

    OK is anyone else sick of this guy. Go away JOE.. Please

    January 29, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Gary

    Did he say it out loud or did he whisper it in McCains ear?

    January 29, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Joey

    What a putz. What a piece of trash. Complete traitor to the Democrats and he gets to keep his post. Obama is too kind to this dirtbag.

    January 29, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. Keith

    Flip-Flopper strikes again.

    January 29, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. California Gold

    Antenna up. Lieberman has surfaced. What does he want now.

    January 29, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. Viet Vet

    Listen to the wind blow

    January 29, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. Grimm

    ...and if Obama's presidency ends up being lackluster, I'm sure Lieberman will be the first to cast a large stone.

    January 29, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. Peter

    What a hypocrite

    January 29, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. James

    Lieberman = Flipflopper. Wake up Connecticut. It's time to put America's interest first, and not just blindly adopt Israel's policies as our own. Lieberman's judgment led us to the Iraq quagmire in the first place.

    January 29, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  12. Xavier

    Lieberman is a a relic that will soon be ousted from office come election time.

    January 29, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. yen

    What does it matter what Joe Leib. says. He change his stand before the end of the day . He is not to be taken seriousely.

    January 29, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. weasel

    Backstabbing little weasel.

    January 29, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  15. DonnieJ


    January 30, 2009 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
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