I just caught the tale end of Biden's opening remarks that he concluded by saying that people who want an immediate withdraw from Iraq are "not defeatists," but "patriots." One wonders where he got his dictionary?
And now Richard Lugar (R) is worse than Biden. His list of assertions is incredible. One wonders if the last time he was briefed on Iraq was in December, 2006. This is really incredible. This idiot is making a speech to the left of something I would expect from Kos. I am literally speechless. This son of a bitch needs to be tarred and feathered on his way out of the Republican Party.
Biden is asking about conditions under which we will withdraw, but does not seem to be asking much of real substance. He is posing a series of hypotheticals that really are impossible to answer. Ambassador Crocker refuses to answer as the conditions Biden poses as unlikely.
This man is an idiot. He is making remarks about sub-prime mortgages. Perhaps the things he is raising need to be strategic considerations about Iraq - but they have not the slightest thing to do with Petraeus or Crocker. He seems to be advocating withdraw and diplomacy with the "surrounding countries." His question is completely incomprehensible. He needs a challenge come next primary.
Petraeus - We need to do precisely what we are doing now. My hat's off to Petraeus to even attempt to answer a question that I still cannot understand.
Making a speech that suggests we need to bring our soldiers home to be prepared to fight some other war that does not exist. And he suggests our soldiers are overstressed. Comment: The answer here is to win the Iraq war and expand the size of the military. Petraeus can do the first - the Congress is responsible for the latter.
Petraeus: Counterinsurgency operations are full spectrum operations. Their mission is not leaving them untrained and unable to do full spectrum operations elsewhere in the world. The Iraq mission is putting stress on our soldiers, but reenlistment rate goals are being met and exceeded. One unit just finishing 3rd tour in Iraq has already exceeded its 2008 reenlistment goal.
Petraeus: We are not arming Sunni militias. Each Iraqi is allowed an AK-47. They started out completely as unpaid volunteers. It marked a seismic shift in the Sunni world against al Qaeda. We started paying them only much later, in order to draw in more people.
Hagel is making a speech that we can't afford to stay in Iraq, reconciliation is not happening, and that it will remain a violent place. Hagel is ignoring the changes in Iraq since 2006. He has yet to ask a question after 5 minutes. Now he is asking Crocker about his September testimony of a "diplomatic surge."
Crocker: There are biannual meetings with the surrounding countries. Arabs need to be more engaged. We are prepared to have face to face talks with Iran over Iraqi security. We can't compel the neighbors to act positively.
Speech telling Petraeus that the Senate is concerned with far more than Iraq. There is a sectarian power struggle that Iran is increasingly in control of. Wow. It is as if the last several months never happened in the Iraqi Parliament. Our military capability is steadilly degrading. Kerry asks - himself, rhetorically - how do we end this. No military solution - only politics and there is insufficient progress there. Petraeus tries to jump in and Kerry cuts him off. Our allegiance from the Sunnis is rented and they are not being integrated. Still not a question. Kerry finally asks whether we can get any political results with an open ended committment.
Crocker - Tries to answer that the answer is no, pressure will not work.
Petreaues - Sunnis are being integrated into Iraqi security forces. And the Iraqi Army is an integrated force with Sunnis, Kurds and Shia all mixed in units. We are not renting loyalty.
Kerry keeps interrupting. AQI did not exist in Iraq before we entered into Iraq and claims that AQI did not attack Sunnis?
Petraeus - The Anbar Awakening succeeded because of U.S. support.
What the hell. Is every republican on the foreign relations committee to the left of Moveon.org? He is asking what pressure we can put on Maliki to force quicker political progress.
Crocker - the Anbar Awakening lessened the need for Shia to rely on militias for security. That has made progress possible and it is showing up in willingess to compromise. Basra offensive has greatly improved the political climate.
Petraeus - drawdown of forces needs to be based on conditions, not a date certain. It is all a question of risk.
GREAT Question How do we stop Iran from their proxy war?
Petraeus - there needs to be a regional and global approach with the decisions to be made above his pay grade as to what actions to take beyond simply targeting their proxies and agents in Iraq.
Speech - Our actions in Iraq is causing al Qaeda to grow. Iraq is an Iran and Turkey problem.
Crocker - al Qaeda is our strategic threat. Al Qaeda was well on its way to a safe haven in Iraq that would have allowed them operate from Iraq as a base.
Petraeus - bin Laden and Zawahiri both have expressed that Iraq
Feingold - keeps interrupting and claims the threat from al Qaeada has increased over the past six years. Feingold suggests that we are playing into bin Laden's hands by staying in Iraq becasue he wants to bankrupt us.
Petraeus - several militias have been integrated into Iraqi security forces that had received funding in Iran per a 2004 law. But those militia elements are seperate and apart from the special group proxies.
Crocker - the heads of the major parties in Iraq all want to see a long term relationship with the U.S.
Feingold ends with claims that the majority of Iraqis want US forces out of Iraq. Crocker is not given time to respond.
Petraeus - we are gradually moving, province by province, to an overwatch / reserve position that will allow us to drawdown. In the provinces other than Basra, Iraqi forces performed quite well and were up to the task. It will be a process of risk assessment.
Petraeus - a drawdown does put pressure on the Iraqi government. Too quick a drawdown would put too much pressure on them. We have been putting pressure on them with every tool in the book. It has worked sometimes, and sometimes it hasn't.
Crocker - Iraqis want to stand on their own two feat - and Basra was a clear example of that. The Iraqis have the willingness and intention to take the lead and be indepenant.
Petraeus - over 1/4 of our combat forces will be withdrawn by July. That is a huge drawdown over a short period. At that point we need time to sit pat and take stock.
Petraeus: As of today, here are only a few thousand al Qaeda left and a few thousand of Sunni insurgents.
Speech from Boxer - the gains are fragile because there is no political solution - and MSNBC has just cut off. Missed the rest. Now Boxer wants to cut off funding to "militias."
Petraeus - tells her these are not militias this is how you end this type of war. Says he will ask
Boxer - Ahmedinejad given the red carpet treatment while our President has to sneak into Iraq. Iraq will only start to deal with Iran when we set a date certain for leaving. Iran is stronger and more influential in Iraq than the U.S.
Crocker - Ahmedinejad did not have to worry about security because Iran controls the special groups. As to how Iraqi government feels today about Iran, they are very upset and concerned today about what they have recently seen with the degree of Iranian acts of war in backing the extremist militias.
Boxer seems concerned with diplomatic niceties more than reality.
We are going broke because of the war. We need to drawdown and have a diplomatic surge. He indicates that he is responding to the anti-American polls.
Crocker - the reality is that it is hard in Iraq.
Voinivich thinks that just telling the Iraqis we are on the way out will act as some sort of light switch.
Crocker - If we decide that we want out now, than the consequences will be severe.
Petraeus - It is easy to dislike where we are, but the consequences of pulling out will be very severe. There has been extensive diplomatic activity. We are working very hard
Voinivich - This idiot thinks that Egypt and other dictatorships are not overly energized to make Iraqi democracy a success. They do not want it to succeed. Where did we get this class of Republicans?
Obama - Al Qaeda was not there before we went in. Should we be successful in driving them out of Mosul, do we anticapate that there is ever a time that they could not reconstitute themselves.
Petraeus - Al Qaeda will try to reconstitute. The question is will Iraqi alone be able to stop them from reconstituting. Over time, we will be able to draw down and Iraqis will be able to handle it alone.
Obama - Are Sons of Iraq being treated fairly
Petraues - Yes, they are. No favortism is being shown and the process to integrate Sons of Iraq is moving forward and is now routine.
Obama - when can we drawdown as regards Iran
Crocker - Iran's strategy of Lebanonization is the problem right now. It is being directed by the Iranian government.
Obama - If Iraq's government knows this, why did they welcome Iran
Crocker - Maliki knows of the problem.
Obama speech - The decision to go into Iraq was a blunder and it is the cause of al Qaeda and Iran going into Iraq. The surge has not resulted in reconciliation. Basra was done for political purposes. We need a timetable for withdraw and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran. We need Iran as partners to assisst with stabilizing Iraq. The money we are spending is breaking our budget. We have finite resources. If we had the status quo without U.S. presence in Iraq, would that be considered a success?
Crocker - I can't imagine the current status quo being sustainable with that kind of precipitous drawdown.
Obama - definition of success is too high. No traces of al Qaeda. No trace of malign Iranian influence. A functioning democracy. We need an achievable messy goal.
Crocker - Iraq is hard. When Iraq gets to the point that it can carry further its development with confidence that they will experience significant danger, than our presence will drawdown dramatically. We are not there now.
Obama cuts him off.
Petraeus - we are getting very good effort from multiple civilian and non-military support. More is needed.
Crocker - we are not paying for large infrastructure projects now. We are now doing capacity building measures with experts.
Missed a portion.
Petraeus - 12 month tours will work.
Petraeus - the math in payments to Sunnis is much in our favor. The key over time is to integrate Sons of Iraq into security forces or education and alternative employment for them. And those programs are in force.
Nelson - there is no loyalty in these forces. They are beholden to local strong men.
Petraeus - tribal sheiks are the reality and we need to work through them. But the integration plan is still the key.
Petraeus - we are keenly aware of the strain and costs of the war. It is why we are drawing down 1/4 of our combat power by July and then looking after that.
Nelson - the only thing that will keep Iraq united is a long term committment by the U.S. or a new dictator.
Crocker - no one in Iraq wants to see a dictator. And all want to maintain a larger Iraqi identity, including the Kurds after seeing the Turkey invasions. Oil revenues are also a powerful part of the glue holding Iraq together.
Crocker - the Basra offensive has had a "very positive resonance throughout Iraq." And existing Iraq law says that if you have a militia, you cannot take part in politics. Upcoming elections are critical for settling political questions by non-violent means.
Crocker - Iraqi budget execution is three times better than 2006, but still have a ways to go. They are spending 62% of their budget currently. Dept. of Treasury folks are coming out to look at this issue.
He is accusing Maliki of fighting in Basra for purely political reasons and that Iran is funding all of them.
Crocker - Maliki went to Basra because of these special groups.
Crocker is not being given a chance to answer. Menendez is reading off a group of "facts" that claim Iraq is far worse off than before the war.
Crocker - has no clue where those "facts" came from. The BBC poll tells a very different story than those facts Menendez just read off.
Menendez doesn't identify his source, just calls it "pretty reliable" and goes into a closing speech, ignoring Crockers remarks. Shock and awe is the American people. He accuses Crocker and Petraeus of not giving specific bench marks for how we will withdraw.
Biden tells Menendez to give Crocker his figures and allow him to comment.
Petraeus - Iraqis require help when we turn over areas to them. In some areas we can slowly draw down, but some areas are more challenging and require we maintain a more active presence.
Petraeus - majority of Sunni communities have rejected al Qaeda and other extremist ideologies. This is important in Iraq and throughout the world. This has huge significance throughtout the region.
This idiot claims none of the bench marks have been met (12 of 18 have been and the rest are in various stages of completion). No national leaders who are willing to make concessions. He is concerned that the SOFA agreement and the fact that it will not go through congress.
Crocker - Concessions are being made. The SOFA agreement is an executive agreement.
Cardin warns that it must go through Congress. Someone give him a copy of Article II of the Constitution.
Complaining about language such as "victory" and "defeat" in regards to Iraq. Crocker has used the phrase "sustainable security." How does that stack up to the current training levels.
Petraeus - good Iraqi units are being raided to act as the skeleton for other units. That is why only a few Iraqi units at level I readiness. He agrees with that approach.
He blames Bush for not having a strong enough diplomatic effort, implying as to Iran.
Crocker - There is a Strategic Framework Agreement and, from that, a SOFA agreement. The SFA, setting out a vision for on-going relationship in fields from security, economic, etc. That does not even rise to the level of an Executive Agreement. We have briefed Congress on this and are being transparent.