Click here for part 1 of this series of live blogging posts regarding the testimony of General Patraeus before Congress on Iraq.
Click here for part 2.
The microphones aren't working now that they've tossed the floor to the General. It seems a bit of a metaphor for our inability to get even the basics right in Iraq. O.k., now the mics are working so let's hear what the man has to say.
He's saying that much of the success of the surge has been from shutting down al-Qaeda in Iraq which, although important, represents a fraction of the sectarian fighters/violence. He is stating the fall in ethno-sectarian deaths but has failed to mention the impact of ethnic cleansing in those statistics.
Now he is speaking about targeting Shia militia extremists and I can't help but wonder what the Shia population thinks of the U.S. arming those sketchy, "former" Sunni insurgents while going after their own militias. See, this is the problem with trying to referee a civil, sectarian war, you end up pissing one side off and they turn on you. Then, at some point you piss of the ones you've just armed and funded and they turn on you again too!! It's a revolving door of tension, distrust, entanglement and violence.
He's recommending a draw down of the surge forces in the near future and that's at least a start but he hints at a long term effort in Iraq. He isn't giving us much hope for leaving Iraq any time soon. In fact, it sounds as though he is saying that we might have to be there into the next decade. This is what I wish to as the General, "If we follow this open-ending recommendation when will we be able to see far enough down the road to know when our best efforts aren't enough?"
There have been some vocal protesters throughout the hearing who have been escorted out of the chamber. I'm glad that there are some people there to make sure the opposing voices of some Americans are heard in this hearing.
Now, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker is testifying. He appears to be trying to compare the difficulty in Iraq with our growing pains in the first years of our Independence from England. The difference of course being that in our early inception as a country we didn't have sectarian violence as they do in Iraq. There were no massive levels of Americans killing Americans over which direction our country should take. Our disagreements were hammered out in the confines of a central government, not in the streets.
The Amb. just said that Iraq is and will remain for some time to come a traumatized society. I feel for Iraqis but what about our traumatized injured vets returning home from the Iraq war? What about traumatized loved ones of fallen soldiers? What about a traumatized populace and government here at home? What about a traumatized budget that is bleeding our treasure to pay for this stalemate in Iraq? At what point do you decide to cut off the infected leg to save the body? In other words, at what point do we cut our loses and return home to rebuild our military and beef up our police and intelligence agencies to focus on preventing terrorist attacks on the homeland, rather then trying to prevent terrorist attacks in a country that does not want us there?
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