dog_and_pony_show.jpgIt’s “gimme more FUs day.” I’m going to try and liveblog as much of the Petraeus/Crocker Dog and Pony Show and WH-Written Talking Points as I can. Do try to have a light hand in the comments to be kind to the servers and your liveblogger. Thanks!

And for your reading pleasure, Media Matters has a fairly comprehensive overview of myths and facts on Iraq.  Just for baseline starting points and all…

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AMB. CROCKER: Thanks for the opportunity to address Congress today.  Privilege and honor to serve in Iraq.  I know a heavy responsibility weighs on my soul…erm…shoulders to outline the issues, problems, and challenges facing us in Iraq, and I will not minimize these issues.  At the same time, I intend to demonstrate that the US can realize its goals in Iraq, and that Iraqis are working toward advancing their own goals.

The cumulative trajectory of security, political and domestic improvements is on the upward swing, although the curve is not steep.  There will be no single moment at which we claim victory — any turning point will likely only be recognized in retrospect.  This is a sober reflection, but not a depressing one.  Reflects on early years of the US, and how our survival as a nation was also sometimes questioned and resolved after acrimonious debate and sometimes violence.

Evaluation of events today only makes sense in the context of their history.  Any Iraq under the age of 40 would only have known Iraq under the Baathist rule of Saddam Hussein and his violent, savage history in that nation.  He used violence and intimidation as his tools to deconstruct ties within Iraqi society, in a pervasive climate of fear in which even family members were afraid to talk to one another.  References the toppling of the Hussein statue.  A new Iraq had to be built almost literally from scratch, with the resulting violence and political infighting.

The past 18 months of sectarian violence had its seeds in Saddam’s societal deconstruction, and it has had dire effects on Iraqi society.  It is no egaggeration to say that Iraq is and will remain for some time a traumatized society.  It is against this backdrop in which Iraqi politics and society must be seen.  They are not just grappling with who rules Iraq, but what sort of nation this will be and how they will rule among themselves and/or share power.  The constitution enacted remains uncertain in both law and practice.

There is a budding debate about federalism among Iraqi government and communities.  This thinking is nascent, but it is ultimately critical to the development of Iraqi leadership.  Additionally, a focus on sectarian gains has led to poor governments that do not serve all Iraqis.  They concede that they need to put government performance ahead of sectarian gains.

Finally, there must be a tackling of immediate problems.  One such example is how the central government has accepted former members of insurgent groups from the Abu Ghraib area to be part of Iraqi security forces.  Additionally, somethign that hasn’t been publicly trumpted, we see provisional immunity being granted and seeds of reconciliation from the de-baathification process by offering jobs or a recommision in the military to be part of that carrot.  (paraphrase here)

The question is how to share power and resources among Iraq’s communities.  Oil revenue sharing laws have more to do than just wealth sharing — what is difficult is that it takes Iraq further down the road to a federal system that all Iraqis have not embraced.  There needs to be a revenue share on an equitable basis with all of Iraq’s provinces.

Equating this to civil rights movements here and states rights arguments.  Balance old wounds from the Baath party against the knowledge that a number of people joined that party for personal survival reasons.  [CHS notes:  Shot of Tom Lantos looking like he isn't buying that one.]   They can and must come to an agreement on the sort of Iraq they want.  This is going to take longer than we anticipated because of the gravity and complexity of the issues before them.

Believes that Iraqi politicians approach this task with a deep sense of purpose and patriotism.  8/26/07 communique from Iraq’s top leaders talking about working together on de-Bathification issues and security.  This is encouraging.  Despite their many differences on perspectives and experience, they all agree that the US needs to stay there and appreciate the sacrifices that coalition forces have made for Iraq. 

Says that gains in the north and west in Iraq have been significant.

[FYI, I have to pick up The Peanut from the busstop shortly.  So I'll have to stop liveblogging very soon.  If someone can pick up the occasional update in the comments, that would be great.  Thanks! -- CHS]

Shi’a extremists are also facing rejection in Iraq.  Going over the Sadr call repudiating attacks on coalition forces. 

Iraq is starting to make some gains in the economy.  In some places, war damage is being cleared, buildings repaired, infrastructure repaired and commerce being ennergized.  Oil revenue needs to be utilized for investment in capital investment.  Getting into ministry data on how oil revenue funds — provincial authorities doing the best job of allocating these resources.

Off to the busstop.  Be back soon as I can…