LIEBERMAN MAKES HIS CASE…. Sen. Joe Lieberman just returned from a 10-day visit to the Middle East, but it appears the senator didn’t learn much. He’s still very much the neo-con.

…While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

The entire argument — more troops in Iraq, more confrontation with Iran — is so detached from reality that one almost suspects the Bush White House helped Lieberman draft his op-ed in advance of publication. It is strikingly painful to read.

There’s a lot of quality analysis of Lieberman’s piece out there, but I’m partial to Steve Clemons’ take. For example, Lieberman noted, “The most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic initiative, both of which are increasing and improving; it is a lack of basic security.” Clemons responds:

What Lieberman doesn’t understand is that his realization of the “security problem” is not new. Our forces have been struggling for a number of years now and not solving this problem. Our troops are considered by many in Iraq to be just another militia among many — or to even be the primary cause of the insurgency for others. Senator Lieberman fails to deal with either of these impulses behind the violence.

And he seems to be advocating just starting from scratch. Just get the security problem fixed. With what Senator Lieberman? … Senator Lieberman, let their be no doubt that the outcome you fear was totally predictable — and was triggered by you and the other enablers of this war. Where is your humility and your own ownership of the consequences of what you have unleashed?

It’s an agonizing reminder that those who helped orchestrate and execute this fiasco are not only proud of their work, they’re intent on making it worse.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.