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A Political Surge

The War in Iraq has been supplanted recently, both in headlines and on the list of things Americans are most concerned about, by presidential politics and the economy. But an upcoming Senate hearing on Iraq and the renewed sectarian violence there seem certain to bring a surge of attention to that subject. The primary reason, of course, is that the three surviving candidates for president -- Republican John McCain and Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama -- will all get chances tomorrow to ask questions of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker at Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committee hearings.

As Sudarsan Raghavan reports from Baghdad, "animosity toward Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki and his allies has deepened in the aftermath of Iraq's worst violence in months, threatening to escalate a conflict among Shiites that could further draw in U.S. troops." And Jonathan Weisman reports from Washington that the hearings are going to be about presidential politics and perhaps shed light on and who would be the best next commander in chief.

Taken together, these two stories have given our Readers Who Comment on Iraq a new opportunity to lob verbal shells, mostly at the Bush administration, although it does have its supporters.

We'll start with the hearing story.

gandalfthegrey wrote, "Good luck to all of us: Witnesses, Congress and the American people. Let's hear the facts so that we can help to craft and understand the decsions that we must make about Iraq."
4/6/2008 11:05:46 PM

edbyronadams asked, "Isn't the rule that the first casualty of politics is the truth?"

mikey30919 said, "Wonder how President Bush explains this; as another achievement for the Maliki govt? How many more Malikivictories can the United States afford? Is it time we pulled out yet?"

blakesouthwood wrote, "...Congress seems to have different priorities and the simple truth is that if we had millions of troops and armor we'd be more effective in the Middle East. I blame Congress for America's failings and not our generals who risk their life for America every day."

Arny said, "I certainly hope that the focus will be on three candidates. One of them will be next president. On the other hand, this hearing will solve nothing and do nothing. Next president will."

harkadahl dismissed the hearing as "A neutered and dishonest account of the occupation presented by a politically compromised general to preening presidential wannabees hoping to look good for the TV. This does not bode well."

hollywoodog said, "It's plain to all except the blindest partisan that the US is being blackmailed by the Iraqi government. They get into fights with their own factions, large contingents of Iraqi troops walk away from battle and the Maliki government cry for help and Uncle Sam duly obliges. The current Republican administration that meekly goes along with the tactic and thereby needlessly jeopardizes American lives, including John McCain, needs an elementary lesson in patriotism."

Now for comments on the Iraq story.

riskpref said, "The powers that be keep saying that the so-called surge is the cat's pajamas. But it seems more like it's all about to blow up, and everything and everybody with it."

aguy7 wrote, "Maliki's offensive and it's repulse by Sadr's forces showed the world the Iraqi army is a farce sustained only by U.S. forces. So much for Bush's touted turning over of power to Iraqi forces... And now the U.S. body count is starting to rise again. I'm amazed there's no uproar in U.S. against Bush and his lies."

HFNY said, "Here we go again, rescuing a government run by dim-witted, lazy, deceitful individuals whose only goals seem to be furthering their own political interests and enriching themselves... Given all that, it looks like we might be dumber than they are because we're still over there supporting these misfits."

Mnnngj wrote, "We are soooo close to the oil, our brave oil companies have their nozzles lines up and then this happens...mission not yet accomplished.."

cpwash said, "The really sad part about the latest violence is that the US is simply responding in kind and seems to have no strategy for victory... Did we arm-up tribes/sects in Japan or Germany during our occupation, and then hope they would sort it out in the end? How silly! But, we are doing just that in Iraq..."

hartman_john wrote, "Now, thanks to Bush-Cheney-Patreus, we can see just how absolutey well the SURGE is working to unify the country. Which stroke-of-genius strategy will these three come up with next? Just wait!"

twistedreality109 tying the two stories together, said, "Patraeus will pull out his magic graphs from one year ago, and American taxpayers and family members of the troops will be assured that the surge is working and soon the 4 million Iraqis who fled will be rushing back to their homes, now occupied by someone else..."

All comments on the article about dueling Shiites are here.

All comments on the article advancing the Senate hearing are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  April 7, 2008; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Iraq , Presidential Politics  
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Wow, cool man, big thanks!

Posted by: fxyotmwtda | April 23, 2008 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that whenever there is talk about getting the troops out of Iraq, there
never seams to be any talk about the vastly more important issue of getting the investers out of Iraq? Getting the troops out will be meaningless if Washington sends enough tax dollars to allow these corporations to buy they'er own armies.
I'm sorry but the solders in the army today joined of ther're own free will and they are now paying for their stupidity.
Hundreds of billions of tax dollars have been sent to Iraq. Maybe someone in the media should be asking what the tax payers are getting for they're money, and what the investers in Iraq are getting. Someone is making huge profits off this war and it isn't us!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Patreaus and Crocker will do their semi-annual congressional two-step (get used to plenty of them), a spineless democratic majority will drag them across the coals for purely theatric value and sound bytes for home, but in the end Patreaus and Bush will get their way while Reid and Pelosi will again offer to wash and wax Bush's limo ...and maybe even Patreaus's car, too!

Posted by: Jeff | April 7, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Petraeus is a joke and that's another incompetence that Bush refuses to accept with all the failed efforts in Iran from the first invasion to the "reconstruction" to the occupation to the entrenchment to this current morass in Iraq.

All the screaming politically charged hacks at FOX News cannot change the fact that Petraeus is a phony who never put himself in battle does not deserve the awards his given himself. One day Iraq qill come the realization that it must govern itself and that i not being helped by our continued occupation.

Posted by: A Combat Vet | April 7, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Remember the controversy over Petraeus awarding himself the Combat Participant Badge ?
He's never been in combat in his life,
which is why he doesn't wear a CIB."

I do remember. I watch a lot of these hearings and it just irritates the he*l out me to see this because it cheapens those of us who have earned our CIB & Purple Heart. You would think Staff level officers would have more respect for those that make their histories. Personally I never saw much of officers above the rank of Capt. in combat. Even then officers in VN pulled line duty for 6 months and were pulled back to headquarters jobs.

Posted by: RetCombatVet | April 7, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Iraq Occupation Commander Petraeus, whose entire Mission "Was to Train Iraqui Troops to Take Over Security (and fighting)" CLEARLY FAILED When 30,000 Iraqui Military were Defeated in BASRA, and insurrection spread throughout Iraq!

Bush "The Decider" Doesn't want To Decide Anymore Regarding IRAQ? He is Deserting his responsibility, Taking Off Commander-in-Chief Jacket - Turning Over Iraq War and Occupation FIVE Levels Down.. To Iraq Field Commander Petraeus?

Bush and Cheney are trying to make Military responsible and take blame for Iraq Disaster as Civil War Spreads:
"This is really the proxy war that everybody talks about behind closed doors but nobody wants to admit to in public."

Speaking with Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, CBS Iraq Reporter Logan said that the gains made by agreements with militias (including from Sunni tribes and some Shiite tribes) to work with the Americans have almost disappeared in the face of the recent violence which spreads so quickly from Basra in the south of Iraq.

"It's really about two things," Logan said. "It's a fight amongst the Shiites for power in Iraq - what the future of this country is going to look like, how the Shiites will divide Iraq among themselves - but perhaps even more importantly it's a fight between the U.S. (who backs the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces) and Iran (who backs those militias).

Posted by: Realista | April 7, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

No matter who the Democrats is after the convention, they are the only ones who can end this nightmare and bring back home our brave soldiers.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | April 7, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The question McCain needs to answer is: "What are the consequences if we stay in Iraq for another six years or a hundred?" as he has pledged. The consequences are many and dire. Our job in the world is not to function as the police is lawless nations and states of anarchy. We cannot keep practicing a policy to enable Iraq's inability to govern itself. As long as we've been there and continue to be there the factions will delay reaching coexistence or any kind of independence from our force, our money, and our destruction. McCain is fooling himself with a logic that will only keep us there forever and ever. He is like a father who never wants to let go of a child but he must. We must leave Iraq for it own future to begin. We are not all-powerful Gods with all the answers -- far from it -- we are simply an occupational force in a country where we do not belong.

Posted by: Richard | April 7, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"...Remember the controversy over Petraeus awarding himself the Combat Participant Badge ?

He's never been in combat in his life,
which is why he doesn't wear a CIB."

Makes him the perfect JCS Chairman for Hillary.

Posted by: gbooksdc | April 7, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

oh yea sorry...

It wasn't a "tax-rebate" check....

It was an "economic-stimulus" check........from China...... we Americans can go out and buy more Chinees made stuff......

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Apostasy, Talleyrand said that about the Bourbon family, after their restoration to the throne of France following the defeat of Napoleon.

They came back full of bile, long-nursed grievances and plans for vengeance, which is why Talleyrand commented that they had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

Posted by: Kevrobb | April 7, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

How long will this Congress let this Iraq debacle go on? Sadr making bid for power, stops when Iran intervenes. It appears Iran has the power to stop the militias. Declare victory and Get the Hell out of Iraq. David and Nick Rockefeller be damned!

Posted by: mascmen7` | April 7, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Generals don't risk their lives every day.
Or even any day.

That's what sergeants and privates and captains are for.

Remember the controversy over Petraeus awarding himself the Combat Participant Badge ?

He's never been in combat in his life,
which is why he doesn't wear a CIB.

Posted by: Brian | April 7, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

It is perfectly true that a quick Iraq withdrawal will require something very painful: admitting a colossal strategic mistake. This is the #1 unbearable disgrace for Republicans and all other core backers of the war and occupation. The #2 disgrace would be payment of reparations to Iraq through a UN or World Bank trust. #3 would be the outrage of the post-occupation Iraqi government resolving the oil issue on its own terms, possibly contracting French, Russian, and Chinese firms, while leaving US or UK firms on the sidelines.

Self-denial, vanity, fear to face the music, and greed are at play. It has nothing to do with US security. The fiasco has made us less secure, drained lives and money, and now we are the laughingstock of much of the world.

Don't believe in polls? Well, how about the value of the US dollar on world exchanges?

Let Iraqis rule Iraq, whether by federation, partition, or unitary state. Any model we impose will crumble the day we leave, whether that occurs now or in 100 years. Iraq will not be pro-US, pro-Israel, or pro-anything we favor so long as we occupy them, or as long as we contrived to have privileged access to their oil.

Medieval Europeans wasted 250 years on their venture. Better to learn from them, plus from Britain's troubles in Iraq in the 1920s onward, rather than repeat a futile imperial exercise.

The trillion plus we waste in Iraq could have done so much more for our security or economy if spent on just about anything else.

Republicans are sad; an angry tragedian...the worst America has to offer....

We have yet to endure the tactical and strategic blunder that the war in Iraq really is.

I know! Why don't we bomb other countries that have schools, water, power, and police for their people? We can quickly lower the population, while creating enemies for our industrial military complex?

How's that sound Republicans?

Bush Sees "Defining Moment" In Iraq? He saw WMD, Al Qaeda; mobile weapons labs, terrorist training facilities, missiles that could reach New York, 45-minute ready chemical weapons, none of which were there.

What he will see is his legacy and his Parties demise, but at least I got my $600 "tax-rebate" check from China!!

You wanna get some Republicans?....lets go.........other wise go sit in the corner with your talking point spewing fallacy of a constituency.....

"The great Rousseau said it:
"...Conservatives have learned nothing and forgotten nothing"

Posted by: ApostasyUSA | April 7, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Last time Petraeus testified to Congress, in Sep 2007, long-term and monthly casualty data still showed no improvement, but Petraeus was able to point out - truthfully - that the most recent data, from the previous two weeks, showed a sudden, sharp downturn in violence.

Now, he's back, and the most recent data, from the past two weeks, shows a sudden, sharp upswing in violence. Will Petraeus draw Congressmen's attention to THAT? Uh-uh.

Violence has been climbing since January, and it has nothing to do with the surge winding down. We're clearly seeing how little the extra troops impacted violence levels. It was all down to the buying-off of the Sunnis, and the Sadrist ceasefire. Now the ceasefire is fraying, and the Sunni "awakening" is awakening to the fact that it's being taken for a ride.

Fiddling with troop levels will have no impact on those dynamics one way or another.

To think that the neocons have staged a bit of a revival lately, that they've even been gloating about a coming victory in Iraq. Hope springs eternal in the breast of every warmonger.

How many false dawns will the true believers see before they finally get it? There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

Posted by: Kevrobb | April 7, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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