Tuesday :: Sep 11, 2007

Senate Foreign Relations Not So Easy For Petraeus


by Steve

New York Times photo

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee did its job today, and asked some tough questions of Petraeus and Crocker. And the questions and challenges came from Republicans as well as Democrats. News reports indicate that after Joe Biden set the stage with a good opening statement, Richard Lugar followed on his heels with a similar assessment. Other Republicans on Foreign Relations, notably Norm Coleman and newly-freed Chuck Hagel expressed their unwillingness to accept the “stay the course” request from Petraeus and Crocker and wanted to know where we go from here. Barack Obama unfortunately used almost seven minutes of his time on his own comments and it left him little time to ask any questions, but he did well and wanted Petraeus to focus on an endgame, which the general wasn’t prepared to do. Note that the fieriest critiques today came not from the presidential candidates but from Barbara Boxer and Chuck Hagel.

See the video of John Warner asking Petraeus this afternoon at the Armed Services hearing if the Iraq war has made us safer here, and see how Russ Feingold dealt with Petraeus at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing this morning here.

I have no illusions that any of these GOP senators will vote for a withdrawal deadline, because they won’t. What’s important however is to peel them off from supporting a rubber-stamped blank check, so that Harry Reid can tell Mitch McConnell that it's McConnell's job not Reid's to round up the votes for a blank check, if he can. And that means 60 votes. Both Reid and Pelosi need to shift the dynamic from rounding up the votes to stop the war towards making McConnell and Boehner round up the votes to rubber stamp another blank check.

Now it’s on to the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon, where Hillary and Jim Webb have the chance to pressure Petraeus and their lapdog GOP peers on the committee to justify another rubber-stamped blank check. As they do this, they need to realize that the Pentagon already is differing with Petraeus and is developing their own Plan B for early next year, one that calls for far more significant troop reductions far more quickly. If the Pentagon is already doing such planning, why can’t the Democrats work with the GOP moderates on a Plan B now?

Steve :: 12:29 PM :: Comments (19) :: Digg It!