Gen. David Petraeus dashed hopes Tuesday that the U.S. could start significant troop withdrawals from Iraq any time soon, drawing the ire of legislators as he suggested that there would still be 100,000 troops there until the end of the Bush administration.
Seven months after telling Congress that he would offer a plan for reducing the troop presence, the general instead recommended a halt in troop withdrawals after roughly 30,000 troops sent as part of a buildup leave this summer, followed by at least 45 days to consider any further pullbacks. The situation, he said, was too tenuous to do more than that.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among the Democrats who decried Petraeus’ recommendation as an open-ended commitment. Meanwhile, many Republican senators countered that a precipitous drawdown would undercut the gains from the U.S. troop buildup…
…Under questioning, Petraeus said there was “no mathematical equation” for withdrawing troops, and he repeatedly called the situation “fragile and reversible.”…
…But they also were forced to acknowledge that the flawed Iraqi-led offensive in the mostly Shiite city of Basra showed that the Shiite-dominated south is on the precipice of an intra-sectarian war.
The Iraqi military all but collapsed within days of fighting rebel groups there, quashing hopes that the forces could soon take over security of their communities.
Moreover, violence has been rising in the capital. Twelve U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since Sunday, most of them in Baghdad province. And civilian deaths in Baghdad are rising, from 172 in February to 211 in March, according to statistics compiled by McClatchy… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Seattle Times>
In a nutshell, the position put forward by Petraeus and Crocker is that they could not predict when we could withdraw troops and they could not even define a set of conditions under which troops could be withdrawn. It was a statement that they don’t know what it is, but they will know it when they see it. I think they were afraid to set parameters, because every time they have, they’ve had to return with a new line of BS.
They claimed that our most powerful enemy in Iraq is Al Qaeda and also claimed to have cut AQI’s resources in Iraq by nearly 90%. That is pure bull. When we invaded there was no AQI. A handful of local Sunni insurgents declared allegiance and receives support from some foreign fighters. At their strongest AQI never had more that 3,000 to 5,000 fighters. Their strength remains about the same today. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument only, that AQI is 90% wiped out. If that is true, the betrayer and the crock are claiming that a force of 300 – 500 guys is the most powerful enemy we face there. BEEP! BEEP!! BEEP!!! Listen to the sound of the Ka-shit detector going off.
They also claimed that Maliki was going after armed criminal groups when he struck Basra. I documented thoroughly HERE that Maliki was really going after Al Sadr because of the upcoming elections. They downplayed the failure and tried to paint it as a political success. They also tried to connect it to Iran. While it is true that all the Shia militia’s receive support from Iran, they failed to note that the one that receives the most Iranian support is the Badr Brigade, the militia connected to Maliki’s party. It was completely disingenuous for the betrayer and the crock to try to identify Al Sadr with Iranian influence, when Al Sadr is a nationalist, and Iran has more influence on Maliki.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were more low key that I would have liked. Both stated support for a responsible, not precipitous, withdrawal. Both asked relevant questions. Neither really went after Petraeus and Crocker. Senator Feingold and McCaskill did much better.
Representing the Reich, Joe LIEberman was the most extreme.
…But Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) thinks that all too much emphasis has been put on the caveats. Clearly criticizing the questioning by Democrats today, Lieberman said that “there’s a kind of hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.”
Lieberman, at least, sees no harm in overstating the progress in Iraq: “The Iraqi political leadership has achieved a lot more political reconciliation and progress since September than the American political leadership has.”
Finally, he seemed to indicate that if only Democrats would accept the clear success of the surge, we “can move to more success so we can bring more of our troops home.”… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <TPM>
Has he been drinking the Kool-Aid or what? Note the picture of LIEberman at worship.
Then there was McBoomBoom. Here’s part of what he had to say:
…Because the U.S. did not “choose to retreat,” we now have a successful strategy in Iraq, the surge. And although “much more needs to be done… today it is possible to talk with real hope and optimism about the future of Iraq…. Success is within reach.”
If we pull out, he said, Iraq might descend into genocide and become a haven for terrorists and even “draw us into a far more costly war” as a result. “Congress must not choose to lose in Iraq,” he concluded, we “should choose instead to succeed.”… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <TPM>
As usual, McBoomBoom remained clueless about what is going on there.
During today’s hearing with Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) questioned Petraeus on what he called “the major threat” of al Qaeda in Iraq. Coming on the heels of his recent confusion over the nature of al Qaeda, McCain today seemed to refer to al Qaeda as a “sect of Shi’ites”:
MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?
… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Think Progress>
Earth to McBoomBoom! Hello? Is anyone home? Al Qaeda is still Sunni!!
All in all, this was quite a show. Someone else did an excellent review of this BS session and I’ll close by sharing that with you. Here is Keith Olbermann.
And here is part 2:
Cross-posted from Politics Plus