earlierspeech
In such a scenario, it is conceivable that a significantly reduced U.S. force might remain in Iraq for a more extended period of time. But only if U.S. commanders think such a force would be effective; if there is substantial movement towards a political solution among Iraqi factions; if the Iraqi government showed a serious commitment to disbanding the militias; and if the Iraqi government asked us in a public and unambiguous way for such continued support. We would make clear in such a scenario that the United States would not be maintaining permanent military bases in Iraq, but would do what was necessary to help prevent a total collapse of the Iraqi state and further polarization of Iraqi society. Such a reduced but active presence will also send a clear message to hostile countries like Iran and Syria that we intend to remain a key player in this region [emphasis added].
Make no mistake: if the Iranians and Syrians think they can use Iraq as another Afghanistan or a staging area from which to attack Israel or other countries, they are badly mistaken. It is in our national interest to prevent this from happening.
op-ed
The amendment, offered by Sens. Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl, directly links the ongoing war in Iraq -- including our troop presence -- to checking the threat from Iran. The amendment opens with 17 findings that highlight Iranian influence within Iraq. It then states that we have to "transition(s) and structure" our "military presence in Iraq" to counter the threat from Iran, and states that it is "a critical national interest of the United States" to prevent the Iranian government from exerting influence inside Iraq.
that
Why is this so dangerous? The Bush administration could use language like this to justify a continued troop presence in Iraq as long as it perceives a threat from Iran. Even worse, the Bush administration could use the language in Lieberman-Kyl to justify an attack on Iran as a part of the ongoing war in Iraq.

As my colleague Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in opposing the amendment, "I do not want to give the President and his lawyers any argument that Congress has somehow authorized military actions."

He is exactly right. Because as we learned with the original authorization of the Iraq war -- when you give this President a blank check, you can't be surprised when he cashes it.
feltpoints outP.S.wadesNoam Scheiber