Iraq Commander Refuses To Set Any Date for U.S. Military Involvement; Senate Committee Ignores Iranian Contributions to the Current Cease-fire in Iraq
OCEAN BEACH, CA. Rose early this morning and turned on the tube that usually stays dark all day. We wanted to watch General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC. Actually, I was carefully waiting for the magic words from our top general and ambassador in Iraq that would lay the troubles of our military in that country on the doorstep of its neighbor: Iran.
I wasn’t disappointed. Petraeus declared that the “special groups” armed and funded by Iran, especially in the southern port of Basra and in sections of Baghdad were “the biggest threat to the long-range democratic goals of Iraq.” Ambassador Crocker was a bit more circumspect; he did bring up the point that a stable Iraq was in the best interests of Iran. Most of the Republicans — led by John McCain and Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman and one Democrat on the Committee, Mark Pryror (D-AK), kept focusing on Iran and its influence. In doing so, no one from the Committee, including its liberal chair, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), raised the facts that Iran helped in brokering the cease-fire after Prime Minister Maliki’s military tried to unsuccessfully push the militias out of Basra. No one said that Maliki’s representatives went to Iran, with hats in hand, looking for assistance in swallowing more than the Iraqi military could bite off.
My concerns had been raised by a report that British officials were worried that General Petraeus would be beating the drums for a military strike against Iran. (See here for that report.)
Gen. Petraeus refused to set any time table for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, and in fact, called for a 45 day “pause” for evaluation after the withdrawal of troops by July. This inability or unwillingness to set dates for withdrawal means that the Bush administration still to this day has an “open-ended” commitment in Iraq. This while 80% of the American people believe the war is not worth it.
The general and ambassador will continue their testimonies in front of other Congressional committees during the rest of the week.