Larsen Statement on Petraeus/Crocker Hearing on Iraq

Sep 10, 2007

Washington, D.C. - Today the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint hearing on the status of the war and political developments in Iraq.  The committees received testimony from General David Petraeus, Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. House Armed Services Committee Member U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) released the following statement:
“After reading the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, the Government Accountability Office report and the Jones Commission report, you can only come to one conclusion: without political reconciliation, sectarian violence in Iraq will continue.”

“Because ending sectarian violence is possible only through political reconciliation, the most important testimony we heard today was from Ambassador Crocker. Ambassador Crocker’s testimony was very disappointing and failed to address the fundamental concerns of the American people.  According to Crocker’s testimony, the Iraqi government has failed to take advantage of any security progress made possible by the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq.

“In the absence of a strong Iraqi central government, Ambassador Crocker described a shift of power to the provinces which seems to be leading toward the slow, de facto partition of Iraq.

“Our policy in Iraq is based on achieving a well-trained Iraqi military and a strong, central Iraqi government.  We have to ask ourselves, “What happens if we end up with a strong military in Iraq with no central government? How does that benefit our national security interests?”

“Regarding today’s testimony from General Petraeus, it’s important to recognize that the limited drawdown of U.S. troops he described by summer of 2008 isn’t news.  Without requiring soldiers to serve in Iraq for extended deployments, we simply do not have enough troops to maintain our current presence in Iraq. I urge the President to accept General Petraeus’ recommendation about the drawdown.

“Nothing I heard today changed my view that the United States must end our involvement in Iraq’s civil war and re-focus our efforts on fighting terrorists wherever they are, including Iraq.”