First excerpts from a Politico story, then my comments below the star line.
Politico begins - - -
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.
“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.
Although powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a ceasefire after six days of fighting, Pelosi wondered why the U.S. was caught off guard by the offensive and questioned how the ceasefire was achieved, saying the terms were "probably dictated from Iran.”
“We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events because of a resolution that looks less violent when in fact it has been dictated by al-Sadr, who can grant or withhold that call for violence,” Pelosi said.
Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, will make their return to Capitol Hill on April 8 and 9 to deliver their assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. ….
The rest of the Politico story's here.
I wonder how Speaker Pelosi will feel if Gen. Petraeus says something like this about “what happened in Basra”:
While the balance of power in the city is now unclear, the judgment by some Western analysts that the cease-fire was a triumph for the Mahdi Army seems premature.If Petraeus testifies along those lines, will Pelosi think she’s hearing “glorification of what happened in Basra?”
Similar assessments after inconclusive U.S. battles with the Mahdi Army in 2004 proved unfounded, and in this instance Mr. Sadr was obliged to publicly disown "anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions."
What the end of the fighting demonstrated is that Mr. Maliki's government and army are not yet strong enough to decisively impose themselves by force in areas controlled by the Mahdi Army or other militias, at least not without the full support of U.S. ground forces.
The fact that such support remains available to the government no doubt contributed to Mr. Sadr's embrace of a cease-fire. By the same token, American withdrawal could precipitate a far bloodier conflict that, if won by the Mahdi Army, would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East.
At best, the battle of Basra will persuade the Shiite parties to fight for control over the city in upcoming provincial elections, rather than in the streets. But the fact that an Iraqi government commonly described as impotent and inert now is willing and able to fight Shiite militias is a step in the right direction.
The statements I just cited are from a Washington Post editorial yesterday, "Battle of Basra."
Questions for Speaker Pelosi: What’s it like to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and worried American and Iraqi government successes in Iraq will be bad for your party?
Do you feel you’re doing all you can to downplay successes in Iraq and precipitate an American withdrawal which, while good for the Democrats' political interests, the Washington Post points out “would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East?"
Instead of trying to influence Gen. Petraeus’ testimony and set the stage for spinning anything positive he may say, how about explaining to the American people how the Democratic Party came to be, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, “invested in our defeat in Iraq?”
To the WaPo edit board: Thank you for a fair, informed and balanced editorial. I wish the NYT edit board would learn how to write such editorials.
Hat tips: Instapundit, Mike Williams, Jennifer Rubens.