As the Senate Armed Services Committee grandstands through their oversight hearing with Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, with the Republicans willing to look at anything and everything as signs of progress, CNN correspondent Michael Ware has recently returned from Iraq, shows that the situation on the ground is far more complicated than Congress and Petraeus/Crocker wants to make it.
BLITZER: Quick question, we just heard Nic's report from Sadr City. Can the Iraqi forces loyal to the prime minister Nouri al Maliki crush these Shi’ite militias in Sadr City with U.S. military help?
WARE: Well, first Wolf, I think you'd have to find which of these Iraqi units actually have soldiers loyal to Nouri al Maliki. Because, let’s bear in mind, much like the government itself, the Iraqi security forces are comprised of and drawn from the militias themselves. Now, whilst you do have other recruits who've just shown up for a paycheck, at the end of the day, the troops on the ground are drawn from the militias, are drawn from the political factions. These are the building blocks of Iraqi political power. And Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister, doesn't have a militia and given that guns, the barrel of the gun is still the currency of political power in Iraq; Nouri al Maliki has little but words and some influence. Real power rests elsewhere.
And this gets to crux of the problem. By what definition of "success" is Petraeus claiming the "surge" has caused? The initial justification was to reduce the violence to allow the government to gather strength, but as Ware points out, that's not happening. To subdue neighborhoods in Baghdad--in an admittedly fragile, highly temporary way--how exactly is that "success" and how does continuing that policy pave the way for anything that will enable us to leave, ever?
And most pointedly, when will there be a Democratic Senator that asks that question, because we know the Republicans never will?