Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and his fellow witness, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, did their best all day and yesterday to put the most hopeful face on the grimness before them. But, to their credit, they stopped short of lying (my em).
Wow. That's something new for this administration. I bet Bush hopes it ain't catchin'.
Republican Sen. John McCain, one of the committee's more hawkish members, asked Crocker what degree of confidence he had that the leaders of the Iraqi government will take the steps toward political reconciliation that they've promised to take.
Crocker hesitated, then replied, "My level of confidence is under control."
That's a very understated way of saying "They'll reconcile when pigs fly".
In one sense, today's hearings dealt President George W. Bush a harsh blow. Many of the senators' questions dealt with strategic issues, which Petraeus and Crocker—through no fault of their own—could not really answer to anyone's full satisfaction. Even the vast majority of Republican senators at least cocked their eyebrows.
Nearly all the senators seemed to recognize that the few, much-vaunted successes—especially in Anbar province, where Sunni tribes have joined with U.S. forces to defeat al-Qaida terrorists—have little to do with the main issues of this war: sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites and the failure of the central government to mediate, much less settle, those conflicts. As Richard Lugar, the foreign relations committee's ranking Republican put it, "The progress may be beside the point." The U.S. troops may be "like a farmer planting crops on flood plains."
Bush is certainly providing enough fertilizer, but the deluge is coming.