Monday, September 10, 2007
How Many Friedman Units and Live Blogging
Today is the day that Gen. Petraeus (PhD) and Amb. Crocker give their report to congress. In fact, it's already started. We already know what they will say. The important question is how many Friedman Units will they ask for? You see, just another six months, to show success in Iraq, is what is always needed.
Luckly, Gen. Petraeus (his parents immigrated from the Netherlands) and Amb. Crocker will head over to Fox News shortly after their report to congress to give another "fair and balanced" report to Fox News listeners. Anyone thing any tough questions will be asked of these guys by Brit Hume?
Let's try a little live blogging, I've never done that before.
One of the first Congressman to speak is liberal, commie Rep. Tom Lantos. Dr. Lantos is a jewish immigrant born in Hungary and a holocaust survivor. He's a member of the congressional progressive caucus and a conservationist.
Now Rep. Duncan Hunter, US born and a patriot, gets to speak. First thing he does is attack Rep. Lantos. Rep. Hunter supports Duty, Honor, Country. Rep. Hunter, a 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, has a reputation for attacking his fellow house members. He is a Southern Baptist Christian.
Next, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (EdD), a Republican from Florida, in spite of her hyhenated name. She was born in Cuba, yet another immigrant that has infiltrated our government. She too chastises the commie liberals who hate our troops because liberals disagree with her. She is a Roman Catholic (or Episcopalian) Christian.
Forty-five minutes into the session and no questions have yet been asked (1:16 PM).
General Petraeus is now speaking or will be when they get the microphone to work. Protesters are being escorted out of the meeting room. General Petraeus has already praised the progress being made in Iraq about three years ago. Gen. Petraeus has just recommended that Congress provide two Friedman Units to the army in Iraq. Violence in Iraq is down by all measures (some disagree). Civilian casualties are still too high says Petraeus. Sectarian deaths down by 80% in Bagdad (but that couldn't have anything to do with ethnic cleansing). The number of high profile attacks are still too high. (The way Gen. Petraeus came up with his numbers is classified).
Gen. Petraeus is still speaking. I wonder when he will get to the level of improvement in the political situation, which is what the "surge" was supposed to allow. Do the Iraqi's think the "surge" has worked? Not so much.
Petraeus slides can be seen here.
Amb. Crocker now gets to speak his piece. We need substantial US resolve. Victory will only be recognized in retrospect???
He seems to be stretching to find things the government has done to advance Iraqi unity.
Iraq is just like the USA when we were stuggling for States rights and civil rights. It's going to take longer for the Iraqi's to govern effectively due to the conditions in Iraq. (I thought the "surge" was supposed to change that).
Does anyone else chuckle a little when the words "multinational forces in Iraq" are uttered?
Damn, I hate that expression "blood and treasure".
2:30 PM and still not a single question asked or answered. Nice speeches though, although Crocker is a bit boring.
Nine soldiers killed in Iraq today.
Ike Skelton (country lawyer) asks a question. Why should we expect the next 6 months to be any different? Crocker....these are extremely complex issues...it's going to take time (many, many Friedman Units). Crocker does not expect we are going to see rapid progress but we need to maintain tactical flexability. There has been progress towards political reconciliation but it's going to take more time (Friedman Units).
Rep. Lantos now, to Gen. Petraeus. Please comment on intermediate course of withdrawal of troops from Iraq (Adm. Fallon (commander of Centcom) favors more rapid and substantial withdrawal than Petraeus). Petraeus recommends a substantial withdrawal (30,000 next summer?). We should not "rush to failure". Petraeus disagrees that anyone has proposed a more rapid withdrawal of troops.
What does Crocker think about increased diplomacy with Iran and Syria concerning Iraq? Long non-answer given. Will Maliki turn to Iran as a more dependable friend? Things are said in the heat of the moment but now Maliki says that Iraq needs the multinational force. Crocker believes Iraqi Arab shia do not like Iranian shia so no worries.
Rep. Lantos seems to be a kind old gentleman (he's 79).
Rep. Duncan Hunter's turn. Petraeus says the Iraqi army is fighting and taking casualties. Disbanded Iraqi army troops are being offered retirement and/or jobs in the new army. Iranians are supplying improved IED's to the Iraqi's.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. All you commie Dems need to distance yourself from Moveon.org. What are consequences of withdrawal before conditions are ideal? (and a mess of other questions). Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda. I didn't really hear an answer that I could understand.
Five minute break at 3:15 PM.
Rep. Spratt (D-SC) wants to talk money first. Over 600 billion dollars spent so far. Did the "surge" serve its purpose (to allow political reconciliation)? Why are we seeing reconciliation. Crocker - there is significant pyschic damage to be overcome. We are already seeing signs of reconciliation (Anbar example again). Sunnis joining police and army.
Rep. Berman (D-CA). Is it correct that we should "stay the course", my words but that is his first question. Petraeus says yes. Does US have special obligation to Iraqi refugees? Yes.
Rep. Saxton (R-NJ). Praise Gen. Petraeus first. Let's talk about how many times we met in Iraq. More protesting. Finally a question from Rep. Saxton. The way we leave Iraq will determine how we will be seen by the rest of the world. If we leave too early what will be the result. Crocker - that is a critical question. Crocker don't have a crystal ball. Iraqi's will be killed if we leave like we did in Lebanon. Iranians will emerge ascendent over Iraq. Arab Sunni reaction will occur.
Rep. Smith (R-NJ). Genocide. Will there be potential genocide if we leave Iraq early? Are there better benchmarks? Petraeus - Hard to tell what would happen. Smith - nothing wrong with benchmarks but conditions are not yet in place to meet the benchmarks.
Rep. Ortiz (D-TX). Is there any type of comprehensive diplomatic plan to reach out to other countries in the area? Petraeus and Crocker agree that you cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq. Must make it more difficult for outside fighters to enter Iraq. Must control cyberspace. Crocker - It's an important question. The region can make things better or worse.
Rep. Ackerman (D-NY). 3.5 hrs of testamony and no has mentioned international war on terrorism. If Iraq is part of IWT, how can anyone suggest a drawdown? But Petraeus and Crocker are not making that argument that Iraq is part of the IWT. Can we afford to put a cop in every bad marriage, especially when the parties are not even showing up for counseling? How much more blood should we invest while we wait for reconciliation? Where will Iraq be in another 4 years? (this guy is a real America-hating commie). Petraeus - yes, Iraq is part of the IWT and Al Qaeda is in Iraq which is igniting ethno-sectarian violence. Ackerman - Is Al Qaeda in Iraq a threat to us - Petraeus is not sure. How do we leave. Petraeus - stabilize the situation in each area.
Rep. McHugh (R-NY)[NNY Bush yes man]. Praise Petraeus first. Is Iraq an important part of the global war on terror. Petraeus - defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq would be good. McHugh - Would leaving Iraq for Afghanistan be a plus or minus for the WOT? Petraeus - better question for another general. McHugh - Frustration of Americans towards Iraq government. What can we do to send a message to Maliki and Iraq government? Crocker - We wrestle with that question everyday. Can't say we are going to reduce troops because they would be less inclined to cooperate with each other. Try to understand how things got to be the way they are in Iraq (incompetence). No real answer to the question.
Rep. Manzulo (R-IL). Is massive military present in Iraq hindering our efforts in combating global WOT? Petraeus - AQI is the threat in Iraq. They are still dangerous and lethal. [sounds like if we get rid of AQI, everything will be hunky dory in Iraq]. Petraeus can't really answer the question - ask general McCrystal.
Rep. Taylor (D-MS). Didn't recall seeing any Iraqis at Gen. Petraeus headquarters. Petraeus - they are across the street. Rep. Taylor - do you ever point at a calender and say to an Iraqi we expect you to be an operational force by this date? Petraeus -the transition has been going on and the dates are usually mutually agreed. Taylor -what are the dates? Petraeus - we have dates laying out provincal Iraqi control. Sometimes dates have slipped. Taylor - Please supply the timeline to the comm. (it's classified).
Rep. Faleomavaega (D-Amer. Samoa). Are forces overstretched? Do we have capacity to fight on two fronts? Petraeus - Shares concerns about strains on ground forces. That's why we need to draw down some of our forces. Our ground forces are too small (army too small). Petraeus - cannot answer whether we have capacity to fight on two fronts. Faleomavaega - Gen. Shinseki along with others was vilified for doing his job. Is 160,000 soldiers enough to do what you need to do? Petraeus - never been a commander in history that did not want more forces (then why didn't Bush generals ask for more troops). "I have what we have".
Rep. Bartlett (R-MD). Petraeus gives a hint about how he calculates deaths. Yields time to Davis (R-KY). Davis - Iraqi congress has been more successful than US congress (I wonder why?). Petraeus - we've made mistakes along the way.
Rep. Royce (R-CA). Where does AQI draw its support today and how do those fighters get into the country? What could be doing in these countries in order to deter the influx? What is progress being made by Iraqi military units? Petraeus - AQI gets direction, money, expertise from the "outside". Flow of foreign fighters - suicide bombers. Saudi Arabia has made it tougher. Fighters from SA need to take a bus to get to Iraq. Security forces range in quality from exceptionally good to units formed of sectarian militia.
Rep. Abercrombie (D-HI). After comments (long winded). Military strategy is to stay in Iraq long-term. USA will draft Iraq oil protocols. Yields time to Rep. Castor (D-FL).
Rep. Castor. How much longer will we be in Iraq and how much more money will be spent.
NPR signs off on committee coverage and so do I.