But there's no oversight, discipline - nay, even apologetic regret - from the elected elite. As is usual with most Congressional hearings, everyone bolts when they get their own 5 minutes of fame and debasement, ignore the responses, and go elsewhere... anywhere other than the most important place they could be. God forbid they learn anything else by hanging around for others questions and answers.
I truly felt for the two prisoners of the hearing... having to repeat over and over the same points. Points, facts and issues that continually fell on deaf, (or perhaps selective hearing) biased ears. Congress has made up their minds, and nothing that Petraeus and Crocker can say will alter it. After all, our nation's security and Iraq's success are overtly triaged well behind their quest for the WH in 2008.
This AM, one would think we'd wake up to sundry newspaper headlines and talking head shows debating the Congressional interrogation. But noooo... and I wasn't the only one to notice the MSM apparent ban on front page news of the event.
The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Page nailed it perfectly.
So the two men best qualified to give an honest and comprehensive account of events in Iraq have marched through Congress to say--and show--that the surge is working and America's goals are still within reach. Yet it's a sign of the U.S. political debate that their evidence of progress seemed to make the headlines in none of our leading news sources yesterday.
Instead, the "news" seems to be that General David Petraeus has recommended that some 5,000 U.S. troops can rotate out of Iraq by the end of this year, and that U.S. forces might be able to return to pre-surge levels by next July if progress continues. That's no small matter, but it obscures the larger message of the testimony by the General and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. To wit: The U.S. is gaining ground in Iraq--often in the least expected of ways.
Yesterday, as the event was hard to ignore by the talking heads, the big issue was Petraeus refusing to speculate whether or not the nation was "safer" because we were in Iraq. Of all the data and information imparted, this is all they can focus on? A vague opinion that only God himself would know???
Why everyone insists that these two men, or anyone for that matter, must be fortune tellers is beyond me. There isn't one person on the planet that can say with certainty, nor prove, what would have happened if we did NOT go into Iraq. That path in time is lost to all, and we only have the path we have.
Certainly, had we not gone into Iraq, and those pesky chemicals from Saddam that showed up in the UN this past few weeks were applied elsewhere in the States, GWB would have had hell to pay for doing nothing... just as his predecessors did nothing. What if all that material moved out of the country in convoys were still in the hands of an intact Saddam dictatorship? Do we have any assurance none of that would be in the hands of a still alive Zarqawi - a Jordanian resident of Iraq since the late 1990s?
Or perhaps you're one of those who believe the convoys were filled with the palace patio furniture...
But guessing the what ifs is neither here nor there. To answer Lob Ball Chris Matthews and Olbermann (who's occasionally amusing, but really should have stuck with sportscasting), we'll never really know if we're safer because we're in Iraq. But we sure as hell know we won't be safer if we leave. And that's the point the duo tried to sing loud and clear to a disrespectful, pompous Congress.
More from WJS
As Mr. Crocker notes, these developments "are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad." It's a point that seems to have been missed by Democrats on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, as well as by such Republicans as John Warner and Dick Lugar. Their collective view seems to be that Iraq is a lost cause because the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to achieve "national reconciliation," on the grounds that a series of legislative benchmarks have still not been met.
We don't know anyone who opposes "national reconciliation," though perhaps only on Capitol Hill would it be measured by the quantity of legislation passed rather than the quality of life for ordinary Iraqis. (In the U.S., these measures tend to be inversely correlated.) Yet "reconciliation" isn't something that precedes basic security. It follows from it.
Perfectly put. No progress until reconciliation, but reconciliation follows security. And Iraqis' progress to reconciliation is not measured by approved legislation. By the very standards Congress wishes to apply, the US Congress itself is an abject failure.
And speaking of the failures of the US Congress... Hand in hand with WSJ's assessment of the political circus that passed for a hearing yesterday is Tony Blankley's overview of the "War on Terror". You know what that is... that battle we must wage for survival that liberals and naysayers classify as a "bumper sticker"?
Fact is, we cannot neatly separate Iraq from this so called non existant war - Iraq, where radical Islam terrorists dash about, inciting riots between sects in order to wage the larger political, media and diplomatic battle against the West. Iraq, where most disciples of Bin Laden and ilk converge to wage jihad.
The battle is larger, and Tony Blankley slaps the truth right in our faces...
If we in the United States can't agree on the nature and magnitude of the threat, we aren't likely to agree on the means of protecting ourselves from it. Until a majority can be convinced that we face real danger from radical Islam, virulent political strife in Washington will continue to delay the design and implementation of an effective, united national defense.
The entire op-ed by Mr. Blankley is stellar... including a global view of the enemy we face. How convenient it is as a liberal election campaign talking point to address only Bin Laden and Afghanistan/Pakistan as the enemy battlefield. But it's a far cry from reality.