"Progress will require determination and difficult U.S. and Iraqi actions, especially the latter, as ultimately the outcome will be determined by the Iraqis. But hard is not hopeless," Lt. Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Forces Committee in his confirmation hearing this morning. Petraeus's introductory statement.
"I do wish this was not just on C-Span 3 but on national television," so more people would watch, commented Sen. Lieberman this morning during the Senate Armed Forces Committee confirmation hearing of Lt. General David Petraeus -- "one of the Army’s most daring and original thinkers" according to Thomas P.M. Barnett of Esquire -- the President's choice for commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. We couldn't agree more. While confirmation of the widely admired "soldier-statesman" who "spent the last year supervising the re-writing of the Army's counterinsurgency manual" seems all but assured, the hearing itself was most edifying, a fascinating snapshot of the world's most deliberative body in action. Other than Hillary, who appeared to be practicing for her 2009 State of the Union speech, the senators -- even our own normally abusive Sen. Ted -- were on their best behavior. A few highlights [watching C-Span 3 online, we had a few blackouts so didn't catch it all]:
Our favorite Democrat, Sen. Lieberman used the opportunity to chide fellow Senators from both sides of the aisle who are trying to hobble the Administration's new "plan forward" before it's even out of the gate:
If, God forbid, you are unable to succeed, then there will be plenty of time for resolutions of disapproval. I believe we can succeed, and I appeal to my colleagues today to give you the chance -- perhaps the last chance -- to succeed.
RINO Sen. Collins, protesting perhaps a bit too much, attempted a defense of her own sponsorship of the Republican version of a resolution of disapproval [rough transcription]:
I must comment about what my colleague, Senator Lieberman said about the impact of a passage of a resolution and whether that would convey something to the enemy that the American people are divided.
The resolution that I have been working on with Senators Nelson and Warner is very clear in expressing support for our troops, and I don't think it's going to come as any surprise to the enemy that the American people are deeply divided over strategy.
Kind of lame. We think it was Petraeus himself [we missed the exact moment but heard about it from a TV commentator later on] who reminded the senators that the enemy -- "determined, adaptable, barbaric" -- finds aid and comfort when members of the president's own party appear to go wobbly.
In response to Sen. Lindsey Graham's question of why reinlistment rates are so high, Petraeus spoke about the military ethic and the importance of being part of something larger than oneself:
The reason I and others have stayed in is that we like the people that we do what we do with.
Are you paying attention, John "Stuck-in-Iraq" Kerry?
President Sen. Clinton was in full finger-pointing harridan mode:
I want to begin by associating my remarks with those of Sen. Collins. The Congress was supine under a Republican majority . . . and the President and his team refused to adapt to changing circumstances on the ground . . . and the failure of Iraqis to step up and take responsibility . . .You [Petraeus] wrote the book [the Army's counterinsurgency manual], but the policy is not by the book. You are being asked to square the circle. In the absence of the kind of full-court press we had in Bosnia . . . I see nothing coming from this Administration that it is willing to pursue such a strategy now. They won't talk to bad people, and it is bad people you talk to and not your friends to try to further your goals.
Get it? Foreign policy was the picture of perfection during the Clinton Co-Presidency, and if it weren't for that do-nothing Republican Congress -- not to mention the impotent Bush -- we'd be sipping lattes in downtown Baghdad as we speak. In the ball-busting manner that is her trademark, the junior senator from New York even managed to imply that "the Army's own Lawrence of Arabia" is a eunuch, carrying out a policy he doesn't believe in. His response, an exquisite counterpoint to her question:
I'm doing this out of a sense of service. This is not about being beholden to anyone. I will give you my best professional military advice, and if people don't like it, they can find someone else to give best military advice.
Class will out.
Update: Pajamas Media links.