Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Warriors Reporting

Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the two top U.S. officials in Iraq, are in Washington this week delivering their long-awaited midyear report on the war in Iraq. The two officials essentially repeated what they said seven months ago in their last war update:
  • Iraq's armed forces continue to improve,
  • overall levels of violence are lower than they were last year,
  • and political reconciliation is happening.
Frustrated senators asked about exit signs. Petraeus said he will know them when he sees them. This is hardly the moment of truth I was hoping for.

However, we can at least gain some insight into our Presidential candidates. The LA Times reports on the Square Off.

Clinton re-emphasized some critical points. Even with security gains, the Iraq government is not capable of political reconciliation. Also, our troops are being tied down in Iraq when they are needed elsewhere.

Obama argued that Petraeus and Crocker were setting the bar too high. He argued for more limited goals: an Iraqi government that could contain if not eradicate Sunni Arab radicals and could hold its own against Iranian influences, if not expel them.

McCain argued to continue a robust military presence. "This means rejecting, as we did in 2007, the calls for a reckless and irresponsible withdrawal of our forces at the moment we are succeeding."

Personally, I don't know how to define "succeeding" if we can't define what we mean by "success." It all seems so circular at times.

I noticed that the LAT article was titled "Petraeus, Democrats Square Off," but then went on to quote Republicans who also question the current war strategy. Think Progress points out a long list of of media outlets trying to frame these hearings as a battle between Democrats and Republicans. I don't understand the mass media's sloppiness in reporting. By the way, my favorite Republican comment came from Sen. Chuck Hagel: "Where is the diplomatic surge?"

I think that quote sums up my sentiments. Petraeus' testimony might be everything the President wants to hear, but the President's mistake is looking for answers from warriors when the real solutions will come from statesmen.

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