Foreign Affairs Hearing on White House Iraq Report

The Foreign Affairs Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Assessment of the Administration’s September Report on the Status of U.S. Political and Military Efforts in Iraq.”

Watch the hearing live >>

Chairman Tom Lantos gives opening remarks (full text as prepared):

Chairman Lantos:
“The President says that his policy in Iraq needs more time, but that is nothing new. Already, this fiasco has lasted longer than World War Two. This endless war has killed, injured or displaced millions of Iraqi civilians — men, women and children. It has taken the lives of more than 3700 of our courageous men and women in uniform and wounded at least 27,000 more. ‘Every month,’ said Major General John Batiste in recent testimony before our committee, ‘American formations continue to lose a battalion's worth of dead and wounded… with little to show for it.’”

Richard Holbrooke gives testimony:

“Let us be clear in conclusion, Mr. Chairman. The high-water mark of American involvement in Iraq has already passed, whether people realize it or not. It is not conceivable, at least not to me, that any administration will send more troops to Iraq in the future. The Administation is reducing the troops and it should not miss its last window to try to negotiate something before the departure of the last surge troops next year, it loses its remaining leverage. President Bush has said, and we’ve all known for a long time, that he will pass this war and Afghanistan – two wars – onto a successor. But he still has a chance to pass on something better than the mess he has created.”

Chairman Lantos questions Holbrooke:

Lantos: “One of the unspoken aspects of the Petraeus-Crocker testimony, which I attempted to approach, was this fundamental issue: how appropriate is it for a field commander to determine what his needs are, and to have the global response of the one remaining global superpower to accommodate itself to the needs as enuciated by the field commander?”
Holbrooke: “Well Mr. Chairman, if in fact, the theatre that you presided over – and I say that will all due respect, you did a wonderful job – I’m talking about the fact that it was presented in a very theatrical manner. If, in fact, the theatre which took place before this committee and others was really a decision on behalf of a nation by a field commander, it is without precedent.”

Rep. Scott questions Holbrooke:

Rep. Scott: “Many of our military men and women are on their third or fourth tours of duty, we can’t continue to move in the direction we have. And then the hypocrisy of pretending we’re having a drawdown of troops, when in fact we’re just simply removing the surge numbers and we’re back where we are now in terms of the tactics of this administration, but especially the cost of the wear and tear of our military, the lack of reserves necessary. And quite honestly, the perilous position we’re placed in because of that. When you look at Iran, and China, and Russia, and other areas, particularly areas in the Middle East–we would not be ready to respond if we had to.”
Holbrooke: “Congressman Scott, everybody is aware of the degraded army, the only issue is how degraded is it, and how long it will take to recover, and how much it will cost.”

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