Petraeus, Crocker Argue Iraqi Government Needs Time
By William Branigin, Robin Wright and Peter Baker Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 1:24 PM
The top U.S. military commander and diplomat in Iraq today came under sharp questioning from Democratic and Republican senators demanding a justification for the continued commitment of American lives and resources to Iraq more than four years after the March 2003 U.S. invasion.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker argued that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki needs more time to take advantage of improved security that they said has resulted from operations spearheaded by U.S. reinforcements.
Petraeus, presenting recommendations he announced yesterday at a joint hearing of two House committees, said conditions have improved enough that about 30,000 troops can be withdrawn by next summer, bringing the U.S. military presence in Iraq down to its "pre-surge" level of about 130,000.
Which might be worth doing if the Maliki government wasn't already in shambles and unable to unshamble itself in the far, to say nothing of the near future.
"there is an enormous amount of dysfunctionality in Iraq; that is beyond question." The veteran diplomat (Crocker) added that "the government in many respects is dysfunctional, and members of the government know it."
This is a country where the minority Sunnis ran things for 30 years and are unwilling to accept majority Shiite rule, which is what the imposed democracy has brought. Its Kurdish faction want autonomy and have for centuries. Where and how do you make a functioning government out of that? More to the point, is the failed effort to do that worth another thousand or so American kids killed and five thousand critically wounded?