TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SENATE
FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ON
2 April 2008
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. It is an honor to appear before you again. The last occasion was in January 2007, when the topic was the troop surge. Today you are asking if it has worked. Last year I rejected the claim that it was a new strategy.
Rather, I said, it is a new tactic used to achieve the same old strategic aim, political stability. And I foresaw no serious prospects for success.
I see no reason to change my judgment now. The surge is prolonging instability, not creating the conditions for unity as the president claims.
Last year, General Petraeus wisely declined to promise a military solution to
this political problem, saying that he could lower the level of violence,
allowing a limited time for the Iraqi leaders to strike a political deal.
Violence has been temporarily reduced but today there is credible evidence that
the political situation is far more fragmented. And currently we see violence
More disturbing, Prime Minister Maliki has initiated military action and then dragged in US forces to help his own troops destroy his Shiite competitors. This is a political setback, not a political solution. Such is the result of the surge tactic.
No less disturbing has been
the steady violence in the
Also disturbing is
choice: either to support its NATO
ally, or to make good on its commitment to Kurdish leaders to insure their
security. It chose the former, and that makes it clear to the Kurds that the
Turning to the apparent success in Anbar province and a few other Sunni areas, this is not the positive situation it is purported to be.
Certainly violence has declined as local Sunni shieks have begun to cooperate with US forces. But the surge tactic cannot be given full credit. The decline started earlier on Sunni initiative. What are their motives? First, anger at al Qaeda operatives and second, their financial plight.
Their break with al Qaeda
should give us little comfort. The Sunnis welcomed anyone who would help them
kill Americans, including al Qaeda. The concern we hear the president and his
aides express about a residual base left for al Qaeda if we withdraw is utter
nonsense. The Sunnis will soon destroy al Qaeda if we leave
The Kurds do not allow them
in their region, and the Shiites, like the Iranians, detest al Qaeda. To
understand why, one need only take note of the al Qaeda public diplomacy
campaign over the past year or so on internet blogs. They implore the
As an aside, it gives me
pause to learn that our vice president and some members of the Senate are
aligned with al Qaeda on spreading the war to
Let me emphasize that our new Sunni friends insist on being paid for their loyalty. I have heard, for example, a rough estimate that the cost in one area of about 100 square kilometers is $250,000 per day. And periodically they threaten to defect unless their fees are increased. You might want to find out the total costs for these deals forecasted for the next several years, because they are not small and they do not promise to end. Remember, we do not own these people.
We merely rent them. And they can break the lease at any moment.
At the same time, this deal protects them to some degree from the government's troops and police, hardly a sign of political reconciliation.
Now let us consider the implications of the proliferating deals with the Sunni strongmen. They are far from unified among themselves. Some remain with al Qaeda. Many who break and join our forces are beholden to no one. Thus the decline in violence reflects a dispersion of power to dozens of local strong men who distrust the government and occasionally fight among themselves.
Thus the basic military situation is far worse because of the proliferation of armed groups under local military chiefs who follow a proliferating number of political bosses.
This can hardly be called
greater military stability, much less progress toward political consolidation,
and to call it fragility that needs more time to become success is to ignore
its implications. At the same time, Prime Minister Maliki's
military actions in
I challenge you to press the
administration's witnesses this week to explain this absurdity. Ask them to
name a single historical case where power has been aggregated successfully from
local strong men to a central government except through bloody violence leading
to a single winner, most often a dictator. That is the history of feudal
How can our leaders
celebrate this diffusion of power as effective state building? More accurately
described, it has placed the
To sum up, we face a deteriorating political situation with an over extended army. When the administration's witnesses appear before you, you should make them clarify how long the army and marines can sustain this band-aid strategy.
The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order.
Only that step can break the
paralysis now gripping
No quick reconciliation
between the US and Iran is likely, but US steps to make Iran feel more secure
make it far more conceivable than a policy calculated to increase its
insecurity. The president's policy has reinforced
A number of reasons are given for not withdrawing soon and completely.
I have refuted them repeatedly before but they have more lives than a cat. Let try again me explain why they don't make sense.
First, it is insisted that
we must leave behind military training element with no combat forces to secure
them. This makes no sense at all. The idea that US military trainers left alone
Second, it is insisted that
chaos will follow our withdrawal. We heard that argument as the "domino
American leaders who insist that it is in our power to do so are misleading both the public and themselves if they believe it.
The real moral question is whether to risk the lives of more Americans. Unlike preventing chaos, we have the physical means to stop sending more troops where many will be killed or wounded. That is the moral responsibility to our country which no American leaders seems willing to assume.
Third, nay sayers insist that our withdrawal will create regional
instability. This confuses cause with effect. Our forces in
Those who link instability
I implore you to reject
these fallacious excuses for prolonging the commitment of US forces to war in
Thanks for this opportunity to testify today.