Thursday, April 10, 2008

Setting the Bar in Iraq

Watching clips of the Senate hearings, first of the Senate Armed Services Committee, then of the Foreign Relations Committee, I was struck at how General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are mired in their own narratives. At one point, Ryan Crocker exhaled an exasperated breath at Barack Obama’s commentary when he asked him what are the criteria for us to declare a success in Iraq. Obama:

“When you have finite resources, you have got to define your goals tightly and modestly… If we were able to have the status quo in Iraq right now without US troops, would that be a sufficient definition of success? . . .

“I’m trying to get to an end point. The problem I have is if the definition of success is so high, no traces of al-Qaeda, no possibility of reconstitution, a highly effective Iraqi government, a democratic multi-ethnic multi-sectarian functioning democracy, no Iranian influence, at least not of the kind that we don’t like, then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years. If on the other hand, our criteria is a messy sloppy status quo, but there is not huge outbreaks of violence, there’s still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it’s not a threat to its neighbors and it’s not an al-Qaeda base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable time frame. And that, I think, is what everybody here on this committee has been trying to drive at and we haven’t been able to get as clear an answer as we would like."

“ehhhh, and that’s because, Senator, it is a. . . I mean . . . I don’t like to sound like a broken record . . .this is hard and this is complicated. I think that when Iraq gets to the point that it can carry forward its further development without a major commitment of US forces with still a lot of problems out there, but where they and we would have a fair certitude that they can drive it forward themselves without significant danger of having the whole thing slipping away from them again, then clearly, our profile, our presence diminishes markedly, but that’s not where we are now.”

Now here’s the thing. Crocker and Obama don’t appear to be very far apart on what you could call a set of criteria for success. Crocker admits that they aren’t at that point yet.

So if we can agree on a set of criteria for success, and they don’t include a completely reconstructed Iraq with a fully functioning government, a fully functioning economy, but just something that limps along, maybe someday we will be able to agree that the US profile and presence will not diminish as long as the Iraqis depend on US troops to bail it out all of the time.

In the end, it will be necessary to force Iraqis to stand up their forces and get them to fight by standing down our forces.

Standing down our forces first.

It’s either that, or resign ourselves to a continued presence in Iraq. A continued presence that only exacerbates the situation.


Anonymous said...

Obama wouldnt know success if it bit him in the ass. He is too busy spreading hope and group loving.

Hal said...

Sounds like someone needs a hug.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone needs experience.

Shoot, I got enough hope to last me a lifetime. We dont need anymore hope. We need HELP!

Hal said...

Experience as in those 35 years' worth of? Haven't discarded that myth yet? Someone who is capable of cooking up a sniper fire story is perfectly capable of cooking up a life filled with experience.

What am I saying? Anyone with enough hope to last a lifetime hasn't taken a good look around them lately. I'll settle for hoping for hope.

Anonymous said...

Hope doesn't put food on the table but it sure sounds good for the simpletons, like the Obubbas in Pennsylvania.

Hal said...

Now, Anon, I don't know how you pronounce "Obubbas" Is the U long or short? If short, I guess it is pronounced O-buhbbas. That is, bubbas who support Obama. Is that what you meant? I know a lot of bubbas who support Obama.

But no, I think you meant the U in Obubba to be long, as in "boob". Those of us "simpletons" who support Barack Obama. That those of us who are in favor of this man of high intellect must all be idiots. This man apparently has pulled the wool over the eyes of very smart people.

Do not ever suppose the intellect of your opponent is inferior to your own.

Maybe we see something in your candidate that you have not, or cannot. I am not an "Obama original". My candidate was Edwards. A far better candidate than either. But given the choice, I find that BHO far exceeds HRC, and most closely aligns himself to the populist progressive message of Edwards.

Last time I looked, Hillarious Clinton has found herself in very close agreement with John McBush.

Anonymous said...

This is anonymous again.

No, the Obubbas dont have anything to do with simpletons.

The simpletons are those who cant hear past the simple minded wishing for Hope and joy.

This isn't a game. This isnt a high school debate club competition. It isn't who can speak the best.

Personally, I was a Obamacan early on, but I got tired of his simpleton speeches with little or not depth.