General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker went before Congress and gave their report on Iraq, a report that was to quantify the success in Iraq. After listening and reading the prepared reports it is apparent that nothing has really changed. We are still in the same quagmire as we were seven months ago when the “Surge” was instituted to clear out the terrorists. We were left with an empty feeling in the pit of our stomachs.
It was reveling when Senator Barack Obama asked what seemed to be pretty clear cut questions trying to find out what a victory in Iraq would be like; he never did get an answer. Listening to the Bush administration, the General, and Ambassador as they speak of gains and progress yet can not defining what or when they can declare victory and end this war. The 18 benchmarks that Congress established last year to help assess progress on the ground were not addressed in the testimony. Ambassador Crocker stated that they were still preparing a report that would measure progress.
What we do know is that the General is recommending that they sustain the troop levels at the present levels of nearly 140,000 and that the gains that have been made are precarious at best and could be reversed at any time. Not exactly inspiring news after 5 years and over 4000 American soldiers killed in action.
Other interesting tidbits raised during the testimony included questions like why isn’t Iraq helping to pay for this war and reconstruction cost. Republican Senator Voinovich of Ohio wondered why oil rich Iraq is banking its money rather than off setting the costs. Democratic Senator Boxer wanted to know why the King of Iran was treated with much fanfare, parades, and flag waving children on a visit to Iraq. Meanwhile President Bush has to fly under the cover of darkness and amidst heavy security, no heroes welcome. Boxer wanted to know who the savior of Iraq was.
But it was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who put it best, “based on everything we have heard, we can reach only one conclusion: With 160,000 courageous American troops serving in Iraq, President Bush has an exit strategy for just one man himself on Jan. 2, 2009”