Patraeus-Crocker Hearing: Lots of Questions, No Real Answers

The recent Senate hearing with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker (or the Surge Twins as section of the press seems to refer to them) did little to re-assure Americans about anything. But it certainly helped confirm what the public had inferred for the most part. Here are some of my takeaways from the hearings.

  1. There is no end in sight. (“We’ll know when we get there, and we don’t know when we’re going to get there.” Senator Evan Bayh)
  2. Things are better than before but not better enough to start withdrawing troops. (We haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel.” General Petraeus)
  3. These two gentlemen can’t commit to when troop withdrawals can begin. (“The Champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. And the progress, while real, is fragile and is reversible,” General Petraeus.)
  4. With the strong support of the President there is going to be no change until his term runs out. (“The top American military commander in Iraq could have all the time he needs before reducing American forces there further,” President Bush.)
  5. Despite the awful situation in Iraq, politicians in Washington can’t bury their partisanship. (“We’re no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success,” Mr. McCain said.)
  6. The Congress can’t do anything about the present situation except wait and watch and enjoy the limelight at hearings and issue tough talk statements in the press.
  7. There is no point blaming these gentlemen or calling them names (thankfully MoveOn didn’t have an ad this time around!), they are just doing there jobs of dealing with a mess that they had little to do with creating.
  8. Sadly, there is going to be no respite for the already overstretched US armed forces.
  9. The US can’t get out of Iraq until it defines what it means by success in Iraq as rightly pointed out by Senator Obama (See, the problem I have is if the definition of success is so high — no traces of al Qaeda and no possibility of reconstitution; a highly effective Iraqi government; a democratic, multi-ethnic, multi- sectarian, functioning democracy; no Iranian influence, at least not of the kind that we don’t like — then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years.If on the other hand, our criteria is a messy, sloppy status quo, but there’s not, you know, huge outbreaks of violence; there’s still corruption, but the country’s struggling along but it’s not a threat
    to its neighbors and it’s not an al Qaeda base; that seems, to me, an achievable goal within a measurable time frame.)
  10. The US invaded Iraq and destroyed Iran’s biggest enemy. The administration promised to find WMDs and found none. There was no Al Qaeda before the US went to Iraq and now they are there in plenty. All the focus is now on Iraq while Afghanistan is getting worse by the day. Despite this deplorable state of affairs, if John McCain wins the White House, the US will continue in America for many years to come (as he himself has mentioned many a time). And if this were to happen the US will be alienating countries around the world who might still willing to co-operate with America to help extricate itself from this awful mess. Voting a Democrat to the White House will at least signal to the world that the American public is serious about a fresh look at its Iraq policy with a strong intent to withdraw its troops.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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