I was talking today with one of our staff here at AZGOP headquarters about his experience of being on “The Hill” last year when General David Patraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified before Congress on the situation in Iraq. Sure, the stories of the Code Pink ladies running around dressed up, the security details and the random protestors acting like fools were interesting to the media. The real point which struck me is this: General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were there to testify and report, in their own words, what was happening on the ground in Iraq.
This week, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will return to Washington to testify before Congress and give a report assessing the situation as it currently stands. Unfortunately for these esteemed public servants, Congressional Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi, have once again turned our military and its mission in Iraq into a political circus. Last week, Speaker Pelosi warned General Petraeus not to, “put a shine on recent events.” As the leader of the most important legislative body in the world, Speaker Pelosi ought to know better than to tell someone what she wants to here in his testimony. She might as well have just come right out and said, “If you don’t say what I want you to, you’re in big trouble.”
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are men of service and duty. Their responsibility lies with their troops and their mission. They are not beholden to Congress, the White House or even the Pentagon. The best proof of this comes from the second paragraph of General Petraeus’ testimony last year. He said:
“At the outset, I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress.”
This year will be no different. Democrats, including our own Congressman Mitchell and Congresswoman Giffords, will attempt with all of their might to tie the General’s testimony to President Bush. They will launch negative personal attack ads like the one MoveOn.org did last year calling General Petraeus, “General Betray Us.” And the media will play into the hands of Congressional Democrats who say Petraeus and Crocker are little more than White House pawns and President Bush is simply pulling the strings on his puppets from the Oval Office.
Democrats have already positioned themselves politically to rebuff any real discussion of progress in the upcoming testimony. Rather than listen to the assessment by the leaders on the ground, they have staked out positions and are pandering to their liberal base. In the hoopla of all the partisan potshots taking place over the next few days, I am afraid we will lose sight of some of the progress happening in Iraq as a direct result of the “surge” and the success our military forces are experiencing.
As security has improved, Iraqi citizens have begun to re-engage in the political process. Today, some 90,000 Iraqis belong to local citizens groups bearing the name, “Sons of Iraq.” In the near future, 20 to 30 percent of these “Sons of Iraq” will be incorporated into the army and police forces, as pledged by the Iraqi government. Democrats will tell us, “Iraq can’t support itself and America is bearing the cost.” While America is helping to rebuild the backbone of Iraq, the economic progress goes unmentioned. For example, business registrations have increased by more than nine percent; total inflation has fallen by more than sixty percent; oil production is up (and revenue sharing agreements are coming along) and economic growth is projected to be a solid seven percent this year. Iraq is clearly moving in the right direction.
Furthermore, Iraq is beginning to pick up more of the tab of reconstruction and redevelopment. On reconstruction projects alone, the most recent Iraqi budget calls for the government of Iraq to outspend the U.S. 11 to 1 and it is expected they will soon cover 100 percent of the cost. In the beginning, the United States shouldered the majority of the cost of training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces. This year, Iraq has budgeted more than $9 billion, which is three-quarters of the cost, to pay for the training and supplying of its security forces. Just as with reconstruction, it is expected the Iraqi government will soon cover the entire cost.
While Democrats will go on a spree of personal attacks over the next few days, let us not forget the progress our dedicated men and women in uniform are making. The political posturing Democrats will do is not what the American people desire at this time. Rather, Americans are looking for straightforward, no nonsense information. They will get this from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, unless the Democrat circus takes the spotlight.