7:55 a.m. Amb. Crocker is reviewing his statement. It sounds like he's going over ground he covered yesterday. It's hard to tell if the Congressmen are listening. Chris Dodd looks skeptical. John Kerry is stone faced. Others have heads down, reading the statement.
Iraqi provinces don't have the power of taxation, so they must receive all their resources from the central government in Bhagdad.
My overall impression is that this is not so much a report as a televised debate. Clearly a lot of Congressmen have already made up their minds where they stand, and they're eager to rebut whatever Petraeus or Crocker say.
Crocker says failure in Iraq will be followed by massive human suffering beyond the magnitude that has been suffered already, and that other nations, particularly Iran, are poised to fill the vacuum that would be created. He says our present course is hard, but the alternative is even harder.
At the conclusion of Ambassador Cocker's remarks a Code Pinker stood and made a loud, incoherent statement and was led away by Capitol police. Goofs.
8:10 a.m. General Petraeus is giving a statement. Sounds a lot like what he said yesterday.
(Well, duh--he gave the same statement to both Houses of Congress!)
The source of the conflict in Iraq is the competition between all the different political and ethnic groups for power and resources. This competition will take place. The question is will this competition be less or more violent?
He's busy "cherry picking" statistics now to show the declining trend of violence and attacks in and across Iraq. In other words, he's emphasizing the positive.
More disruption. A red faced, white haired man in a white suit is apoplectic, loud but still incoherent. He too is escorted from the room.
8:30 a.m. C-SPAN has switched coverage to something else. CNN and MS-NBC are only providing partial coverage. They're not really interested in anything Petraeus or Crocker have to say, I'm sure.
8:44 a.m. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is questioning Petraeus and Crocker. He is minimizing the effects of the surge. He's emphasizing the hardships of the Iraqi people, and the incompetence and ineptness of the Iraqi Parliament. Sounds like he's cherry picking, to me.
I suspect Lugar is a RINO.
Crocker says that Iraq is unlikely to come out of this conflict looking like a smaller version of America, and we shouldn't expect that.
8:10 a.m. Chris Dodd (D-CN) has his turn now. He's cherry picking, using an anecdote, because he doesn't want to go back and forth debating the statistics that Petraeus has presented. This situation is not going to get better. How can we justify extending this effort?
Petraeus points out some of the smaller intermediate steps that have been taken toward where we want to go.
8:59 a.m. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) points out "bright line contradictions" between his report and the GAO report and others. He concludes that the Iraqi government is disfunctional. Flooding a zone with U.S. troops, it's logical to assume that there will be some success there. We've lost the four southern provinces to thugs and militias. We're paying tribute to these thugs to keep the ports open. British troops are huddled in the Basra airport. He's citing the 7 NCOs who wrote an article in the New York Times desputing the progress that has been reported in Iraq. Are we going to dismiss their report? Are we going to continue to pour blood and treasure into Iraq when there is so little real progress, especially on the political front? He lays the blame for the lack of progress on "this administration". He's clearly a RINO. I'm glad he's announced his retirement.
9:15 a.m. Senator Kerry (D-NY) says this is a historic moment. Not since General Westmoreland addressed Congress during the Vietnam War has an American General addressed the Congress; a clever reference to the quagmire that was Vietnam, similar of course to the present quagmire in Iraq. Is it acceptable that the British troops are stationed at an airbase and militias are fighting it out in 4 southeastern provinces under the influence of Iran?
What I see is a general unwillingness to give the Iraqi government any more time to get their act together. I think the U.S. Congress is extremely hypocrital to criticize Iraq's parliament and government as disfunctional when our own government is nearly as corrupt, inept, and disfunctional. Add to that a measure of cravenness. There's a clear reluctance to keep pouring American blood and treasure into this conflict. No one is talking about the alternative, and what would happen if our forces were to withdraw by next spring.
9:30 a.m. General Petraeus is reponding to Sen. Biden (D-?) He misspoke, saying that he was going to "go home"--meaning go back to Iraq and work on some things. I thought that was an interesting little slip of the tongue. Clearly, Gen. Petraeus is fully invested in Iraq and it's outcome. Nothing wrong with that. In spite of that investment, he has responded to all the questioning and quibbling dispassionatley and respectfully, and yet, I believe, he has responded to every question with an answer.
9:45 a.m. General Petraeus was responding to a question and Sen. Biden cut him off because he was taking too much time. He cut him off and called on Russ Feingold (D-WI) to pose his questions. Feingold is going on and on about all the bad things that are going on in the world other than Iraq, and has now asked for a response. Which is more important, Pakistan or Iraq?
This is clearly an attempt to muddy the waters. What are we going to do, redeploy to Pakistan?
Feingold calls this "myopia", "the myopia of Iraq". His point is that we're over committed to Iraq at the expense of the overall effort against al-Quaida.
When can we tell the American people that combat deaths will go down in Iraq?
What a grandee.
10:00 a.m. It strikes me that Petraeus and Crocker need to be careful to not paint too rosie of a picture in Iraq, lest Congress use that to justify a precipitous withdrawal of our forces from the region.
Crocker is saying that to threaten the Iraqis with our withdrawal will have the effect of pushing them in the wrong direction. Self-preservation, instead of reconciliation, will become a priority, as Iraqis prepare for a massive civil war.
10:03 a.m. Biden cuts off the general again citing time constraints, gently chiding the general and the ambassador, saying it's in their own best interest to shorten their answers. Incredible arrogance. He's not interested in the answers, it's more important that they get the opportunity to be on television, making their own points.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is making a statement. I haven't heard a question yet. She'll use up all her time and then give them a minute or two to respond. She's accusing them of cherry picking, again. Now she's quoting the BBC poll of Iraqis.
Sen. Boxer has taken up her time and Petraeus and Crocker will have to respond in writing. Great job. Pose questions on T.V. and deny the witnesses an opportunity to respond. Craven. Not interested in answers, but eager to grandstand and rail against the present administration.
They say that war is politics by other means. Apparently, conversely, politics is war by other means, but still war, all the same.
10:20 a.m. I have to sign off. Today is my wife's birthday, and I need to turn my attention to that. Also, it's election day here in Spanish Fork, and we need to do our civic duty.