This is Part Three of our liveblogging. Part One is here. Part two is here.
2:04: Crocker starts his portion of the report.
2:05: Crocker: There will be no moment at which we can claim victory, [because] any turning point will only be recognized in retrospect.
2:06: Saddam Hussein was a very very very bad man. Check.
2:08: "It's not an exaggeration to say that Iraq is, and will for some time to come, remain a traumatized society."
2:10: Crocker seems to be advocating a federal system.
2:11: Without the proclamation of a general amnesty, we see provisional immunity being granted. "The seeds of reconciliation are being planted." What about the ethnic cleansing? Are sectarian killings "seeds of reconciliation?"
2:12: Is Iraq's government ready to support reconciliation? "The commitment of its leaders to work together on big issues is encouraging."
2:15: Crocker is impressed that the government of Iraq wants the U.S. forces to stay. Because, you know, they don't need U.S. protection to stay in power.
2:16: "The landscape in Anbar is dramatically different." (Because of a stroke of good luck.)
2:17: The world should note that when Al Qaeda began implementing its twisted version of a Caliphate, the Iraqis rejected it.
2:18: TPM has Petraeus' charts.
2:20: Again with the (pay)rolls. Just because someone's getting a check doesn't mean they're doing what we want.
2:22: Iraqi businessmen have their conferences in Dubai. Duly noted.
2:23: "Insecurity in many parts of the country" and "woefully inadequate" electricity hurts the Iraqi economy.
2:25: For the first time in years, Iraq is exporting its oil through Turkey. Progress! And Saudi Arabia is opening an embassy in Baghdad! Because the Saudis, you know, are good. (Even though Osama bin Laden is Saudi, as were most of the 9/11 hijackers).
2:26: But while the Saudis are good, the Syrians are bad, and the Iranians are REALLY bad. (Because the Iranians attacked us. Oh wait.) They "undermine-a-ded" progress in Iraq. Did the President write that part?
2:28: "We must acknowledge that 2006 was a bad year in Iraq. The country came close to unraveling economically, politically, and in security terms..." Thank god it didn't.
2:30: "I cannot guarantee success in Iraq. It is attainable. I am certain that abandoning our efforts will bring failure." Iraq might fall into civil war! Iran would be a winner in this scenario. (You know, because taking out Iran's biggest rival didn't help it at all).
2:32: "Our current course is hard, the alternatives are far worse."
2:34: Crocker wants an "enterprise fund" to make equity investments in Iraqi businesses. Along the lines of one that is in effect in Poland, apparently. He also wants to instill "the habits of preventative maintenance," because apparently Arabs need to be taught such things. Guess it's never too late for a little imperial/racist rhetoric. Thank god the government of the glorious United States already knows all about preventative maintenance. You should see how well our bridges hold up!
2:36: Skelton: "Why should we expect the next six months to be any different than it has been in the past?" Crocker: "You are frustrated, I'm frustrated, we're all frustrated, but this stuff is incredibly complicated!"
2:38: Crocker: "I do not expect that we'll see rapid progress to these benchmarks.... I would certainly share disappointment that progress has been slow on legislative benchmarks, but that does not mean progress has not been made on national reconciliation."
2:40: Lantos calls Petraeus' proposal a "token" withdrawal. Petraeus disagrees, and warns against "rushing to failure."
2:43: Who wants to hear the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee say the word "lubricated"? Not me, but I guess that's too bad.
2:45: Lantos criticizes the Bush administration for being unwilling to conduct diplomacy with countries we don't like (Read: Syria and Iran), and asks Crocker for his opinion of expanding relations with those countries.
2:47: Crocker says that Iran "wants to be seen to be at the table"... and says that if Iran is willing to take substantive measures to improve Iraqi security, then the U.S. is prepared to talk more. But right now, he says he hasn't seen any sign of earnestness or seriousness on the part of Iran.
2:49: GREAT question from Lantos about the connections between the current Iraqi leadership and Iran. "Is it possible that Maliki or others might at sometime in the future as a 'more dependable' friend?" The essence of Crocker's response is that sometime politicians say things they don't mean.
2:55: Duncan Hunter asks about the Iraqi army, and Petraeus says things are going well, all things considered.
3:00: Petraeus: It appears that the flow of Iranian weapons into Iraq has increased, although the Quds force and Lebanon Hezbollah trainers have left.
3:02: The "young lady" from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, calls again for Dems to "distance themselves" from the MoveOn ad. But someone calls for a point of order: Dems don't have "to distance themselves from something they weren't associated with."
3:06: Ros-Lehtinen asks whether Iraq could become an Al-Qaeda sanctuary after a "premature withdrawal," and asks how the U.S. could get more countries to support Iraq positively. Petraeus restates American goals, and points to some progress interdicting Iranian weapons as well as suicide bombers entering through Syria. Crocker points to visits from Swedish and French ministers.
3:11: Crocker looks forward to upcoming conferences in New York and Istanbul as opportunities for diplomatic progress.
3:14: First scheduled break - should be at least five minutes.
Go to Part Four.