Petraeus Testimony: Summing Up Today's Hearing on Iraq (Update)

(written with Ilan Goldenberg)

Here's a wrap up of the entire day of hearings. Only 14 hours til tomorrow...

1. Petraeus and Crocker refuse to tell us what our long term strategy is in Iraq, holding to the weak excuse that they can't make predictions into the future. But they have no problem making scary predictions into the future about what will happen if we withdraw. Contradiction? We think so.

2. Senator Biden made Crocker admit that the threat from Al Qaeda central along the Afghan-Pakistan border is a higher priority than Al Qaeada in Iraq.

3. John McCain still seems to be confusing his Shi'a and his Sunnis.  He seems to have this recurring problem and if he becomes President and does this in some international forum it will be REALLY REALLY bad.

4. Iran is the new Al Qaeda. A large portion of the questioning from Martinez, Lieberman, Graham was based on trying blame Iran from what happened in Basra.  But as Senator Jack Reed pointed out the Iranians are actually supporting all of the various Shi'a groups in Iraq, including those in league with the central government.

5. Petraeus and Crocker repeatedly quoted Osama Bin Laden and his deputies that Iraq was the central fron in the war on terror. But as Senators Bayh and Feingold pointed out we shouldn't take our marching orders from Al Qaeda, as their strategy is to bleed and bankrupt the United States in Iraq.

6. Ryan Crocker continues to present a rosy picture of what happened in Basra last week, saying that it has strengthened Maliki's hand.  But news on the ground today seems to undermine this claim with Sadr actually picking up support from various religious leaders.

7. When asked by Senator John Warner whether Iraq was making us safer Petraeus kept hedging and stated that it would ultimately be up to history.  Not very comforting.  And for those who argue that it's not his job to answer that question.  The President has made it his job, but ignoring the advice of other more senior military leaders and going straight to Petraeus.

8. Crocker claims that there has been a "diplomatic surge" by the United States. But as Chuck Hagel pointed out these claims are "thin." A real diplomatic surge would entail Rice, Gates, or a special envoy - people from the highest levels of the government - reaching out to Iraq's neighbors and being able to talk not just about Iraq but all regional issues.

9. Petraeus and Crocker can't tell us if political reconciliation, the whole point of the surge, is actually happening.