OBAMA: And so my final -- and I'll even pose this as a question and I won't -- you don't necessarily have to answer it -- maybe it's a rhetorical question -- if we were able to have the status quo in Iraq right now without U.S. troops, would that be a sufficient definition of success?Petraeus and Crocker didn't answer the question (What would constitute conditions that would allow us to withdraw our troops? What would "victory" actually look like?) no matter who asked it. That's because they now have us in a classic Catch 22. When conditions are bad, we can't leave. When conditions improve we can't leave because they are "reversible." If they answer the question they won't any longer be able to dance this two step on Iraq. They won't be able to sell Congress this Iraq snake oil.
It's obviously not perfect. There's still violence, there's still some traces of Al Qaida, Iran has influence more than we would like. But if we had the current status quo, and yet our troops had been drawn down to 30,000, would we consider that a success? Would that meet our criteria, or would that not be good enough and we'd have to devote even more resources to it?
CROCKER: Senator, I can't imagine the current status quo being sustainable with that kind of precipitous drawdown.
BIDEN: That wasn't the question.
OBAMA: No, no, that wasn't the question. I'm not suggesting that we yank all our troops out all the way. I'm trying to get to an endpoint. That's what all of us have been trying to get to.
And, see, the problem I have is if the definition of success is so high, no traces of Al Qaida and no possibility of reconstitution, a highly-effective Iraqi government, a Democratic multiethnic, 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's not, you know, 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 Qaida base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable timeframe, 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 of an answer as we would like.
CROCKER: And that's because, Senator, is a -- I mean, I don't like to sound like a broken record, but 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 U.S. forces, with still a lot of problems out there but where they and we would have a fair certitude that, again, they can drive it forward themselves without significant danger of having the whole thing slip away from them again, then, clearly, our profile, our presence diminishes markedly.
But that's not where we are now.
OBAMA: Thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Chairman.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Obama "grows up" on Iraq
New York Daily News columnist, Iraq invasion and occupation enthusiast and John McSame groupie (ex-W groupie) Michael Goodwin, in his comments on the Senate Petraeus/Crocker hearings, chose to disrespect Barack Obama. By saying that "everybody wants a 'successful resolution' [in Iraq] and that nobody wants a 'precipitous withdrawal' of our troops. He also seemed to be seeking a way of defining limited victory rather than sticking with his vow of a rapid retreat," Obama was displaying "a grownup moment for him,...that reflects the stubborn reality of Iraq." In other words, for Goodwin, if you agree with him you are a grownup, if not I guess an immature, perhaps obstreperous child. Of course, neither witness answered the question Obama, as well as Clinton and many others, actually asked.