The U.S. military commander and the top diplomat in Iraq said yesterday that progress had been limited and slow since a surge of American troops this year, and that U.S. soldiers would have to stay in the country for years to come. Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker—facing withering questions from senators in their second day of congressional testimony—conceded U.S. policy in Iraq would remain virtually unchanged after a proposed return next year to the pre-surge level of 130,000 U.S. soldiers.
The nation will be better off if the members of Congress set aside partisan bickering this week and just listen to what Petraeus has to say, said Owen West in The Wall Street Journal. As a career soldier, he is “a guardian whose lifelong calling is service to his country. He knows the enemy. He knows our limitations. And he is telling the truth.”
The one thing both parties agree on is that the Iraqi government hasn’t done enough to set aside sectarian quarrels, said Ronald Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times (free registration required). “Pot, meet kettle.” The White House and some congressional Republicans are pointing to “intermittent security gains” cited by Petraeus as proof we’re winning. Democrats challenge the general’s statistics and say violence isn’t trending down. Both are guilty of making it harder to bridge the “partisan gulf” and come up with a united policy.
The frank talk of Petraeus and Crocker has been a breath of fresh air in Washington, said National Review Online in an editorial. Although the Left won’t listen to them—MoveOn.org called Petraeus a traitor and said he fudged statistics to make the surge policy look good. But the truth is both men have given a “sober, factual, and cautiously optimistic” assessment of how things are going. “Supporters of the war—nay, all patriots—should be proud that the country has such servants.”