Today was the first day of Senate hearings to hear updated reports from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on progress of the Iraq operation. Most of the questions from Republicans, with the exception of Senator Hagel, were oriented toward achieving eventual success. They asked about achievements so far and about what additional goals had to be met for America to succeed in this mission.
Most of the questions from Democrats, with the exception of Senator Lieberman, were oriented toward bugging out of Iraq. In several ways they asked the General how much “blood and treasure” would it take to reach the conclusion that America should give up and retreat. The General did a good job of dodging those questions.
Senator Clinton asked a question with a negative preamble:
“I remember well your being asked [in hearings last September] how long would we continue to commit American lives and treasure if the Iraqis failed to make political gains. In response you said if we reached that point in a year you’d have to think very hard about it. And it would be difficult to recommend the continuation of this strategy and there clearly are limits to the blood and treasure we can expend in an effort. Well we’re half way through that year and as many of us predicted and as you yourself stated we still do not see sufficient progress. What conditions would have to exist for you to recommend to the president that the current strategies are not working?”
By quoting Petreaus out of context she inaccurately attributed a lot of pessimism to him before asking the question the enemy would most want answered. Al Qaeda would love to know what conditions they could create that would lead the General and the President to conclude the effort was futile, and decide to abandon Iraq. To his credit General Petreaus side-stepped this question as well.