Originally billed as an independent report on the situation in
In his testimony Petraeus praised heightened security capacity and described improvements as “substantial.” Stating directly, “I wrote this [testimony] myself,” Petraeus boasted declines in “security incidents” and that “Iraqi security elements have been standing and fighting.”
Petraeus then produced a series of charts on the levels of violence in
Petraeus neglected to inform members of Congress that heightened security in
Petraeus proceeded to tout the much-discussed “progress” in
According to the Washington Post, a Pentagon report recommending these tactics in Anbar warned that such a situation is temporary, a point Petraeus did not raise. Petraeus also did not discuss how developments there were prompted by
Still, no responsible analyst could honestly describe this as a basis for a long-term political reconciliation in
Petraeus then reported that he had recommended a withdrawal of the “surge” forces beginning this month and ending in the summer of 2008. But his description of this troop withdrawal as “substantial” was somewhat misleading. The surge was scheduled to end next spring anyway with 30,000 troops redeployed back to their original stations.
Petraeus did not provide much detail about US casualties during the surge, which remain at levels equal to much of 2006.
Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), in his John Wayne-esque cadences, refused to dispute the credibility of Petraeus and Crocker, but Skelton picked up on public impatience for promised progress in his single question to Ambassador Crocker.
Given that we’ve been waiting for progress for more than four years, Skelton pointedly asked, what makes you think anything will be different in the future?
Crocker admitted that he couldn’t foresee measurable progress on benchmarks, but testified that progress could be measured in abstract impressions and feelings. He insisted that current “debates” over federalism in Iraq, Iraqi “frustration” with political gridlock, and the lessening of how “controversial” is the idea of Iraqi nationalism are “the seeds of reconciliation.”
These vague impressions and behind-the-scenes murmurings were not the rationale for the troop surge. The purpose for the surge was to provide a secure space in which Iraqi leaders could make concrete, measurable progress as listed in the benchmarks.
In his remarks, Crocker essentially laid out the same political strategy already in place before the surge, but could offer no new means of achieving it. All we can do now is wait and hope everything works out, Crocker seemed to suggest.
Neither did Crocker address in any substantive way
The testimony offered by Petraeus and Crocker showed that the occupation of
And because the Bush administration refuses to take definitive steps to change its policies, Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, must step forward and assume the mantle of change. It must mandate a new course that brings the troops home and ends the occupation of