Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Skepticism Voiced at House Hearing on Iraq

Man has a lot of medals. But doe she have a lot of sense? He and his ambassador buddy testified before the third Congressional committee today and struck the same chord: we're doing well enough, could be doing better, but only this way will work. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker acknowledged the problems — “The situation in certain areas is still unsatisfactory, and innumerable challenges remain,” the general told the House panel, as he had the Senate committees on Tuesday — but the two men said that the current course was producing important results and that it was the only way forward. “I do remain convinced that a major departure from our current engagement would bring failure,” Mr. Crocker said.

That needs to be challenged. President Bush, who has indicated that he expects to rely heavily on the general’s recommendations, is scheduled to outline his policy for the months ahead at the White House on Thursday. Despite their regular prodding and criticism of the administration on the conduct and cost of the war, the Democrats in Congress appeared to lack sufficient support to force a significant change in the president’s approach. With some exceptions, Congressional Republicans have stood with Mr. Bush.

But the Democrats are not being very effective.

General Petraeus’s tone was notably sober, and he acknowledged that “we haven’t turned any corners, we haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel,” despite the intensified American military campaign over the past 15 months of the surge.

Lots of clichés, little progress after 5 years of fighting. Different reasons: Though the increased troop commitment sharply reduced insurgent attacks across much of Iraq last year, the relative calm was broken last month when the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered an assault on Shiite militias in Basra, setting off renewed violence there and around Baghdad.

The cease-fire to end that disaster was reached with Iran's help. Yet the mouths in Potomac Land castigate Iran and call it evil. Simplistic crap for the ears of the masses.

General Petraeus said the security situation in Iraq remained in flux in part because of the “destructive role Iran has played,” with its backing of “special groups” of Shiite radicals that he said now posed the greatest immediate threat in Iraq.

“A year ago, the president argued that we wouldn’t begin to withdraw troops from Iraq, because there was too much violence,” Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts said. “Now the president argues we can’t begin to withdraw troops, because violence is down.”

The Bushies simply want their policies supported, rubber-stamed.

The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, also criticized the Bush administration’s negotiations on a lasting security agreement with Iraq and its refusal to submit the agreement to the Senate for ratification. Mr. Crocker repeated several times that the agreement being negotiated would not rise to a level requiring a Senate vote, but that did not satisfy Mr. Biden.

They define what is constitutionally appropriate.

Even some Republicans voiced reservations about a war effort whose end remained far from clear. “Our patience is not unlimited,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who was sworn in less than a year ago.

But what is enough?

Here is one metaphor I just don't understand: “The Champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. And the progress, while real, is fragile and is reversible.”

Champagne? As in celebratory? Huh?

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