Sure, Arizona Senator John McCain's campaign may still be selling him as some kind of "maverick" or "independent thinker" -- and most of the media may still be buying that ridiculous line.Howie P.S.: In her post "Obama at the Hearing" (The Stump), Eve Fairbanks comments
Feingold told Petraeus and Crocker: I hope you won't take it personally when I say that I wish we were also hearing today from those who could help us look at Iraq from a broader perspective. The participation at this hearing of those charged with regional and global responsibilities would have given us the chance to discuss how the war in Iraq is undermining our national security. It might have helped us answer the most important question we face – not "are we winning or losing in Iraq?" but "are we winning or losing in the global fight against al Qaeda?"
Like many Americans, I am gravely concerned by how bogged down we are in Iraq. Our huge, open-ended military presence there is not only undermining our ability to respond to the global threat posed by al Qaeda, but it is also creating greater regional instability, serving as a disincentive for Iraqis to reach political reconciliation, straining our military, and piling up debt for future generations to repay.
I am pleased that violence in parts of the country has declined, but as the increase in violence in Mosul and recent events in Basra and now Baghdad indicate, long-term prospects for reconciliation appear to be just as shaky as they were before the surge. In fact, the drop in violence could have serious costs, as it is partly attributable to the deals we have struck with local militias, all of which could make national reconciliation that much more difficult.
We need to redeploy our troops from Iraq and I am disappointed that you are calling for a halt in troop reductions, General Petraeus, because the presence of about 140,000 troops in Iraq will exacerbate the conflict, not stabilize it, and it will certainly not contribute to our overall national security. Some have suggested that we should stay in Iraq until reconciliation occurs. They have it backwards -- our departure is likely to force factions to the negotiating table in an attempt to finally create a viable power-sharing agreement.
If we redeploy, Iraq will no longer be the "‘cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world," as the Intelligence Community so clearly stated. Iran, as well as Turkey, Syria, and other regional actors, will have to decide if Iraqi instability is really in their interests once we are no longer on the hook. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we will be able to adequately address what must be our top priority – the threat posed by al Qaeda around the globe, and particularly its safe haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Nothing could be clearer than the need to refocus all our instruments of national power to combat this threat.
Redeployment does not mean abandoning Iraq. We must work for a peaceful outcome in that country. But if we continue to leave our military caught up in the sectarian divisions that consume Iraq, we will be doing so at grave risk to Iraq's progress, the region's stability, and our own national security.
Instead of throwing up his hands in frustration a la Joe Biden or Barbara Boxer (who was rather funny), Obama tried to give Petraeus and Crocker metrics to riff off of: Let's not pretend we can get nearly everything we want, so what can we be satisfied with?Barack Obama