Kissinger Testifies on Iraq Plan; Dems Ask "What Plan?"

| Wed Jan. 31, 2007 5:30 PM EST

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrived on Capitol Hill this morning to offer his assessment on Iraq, which he's reportedly been offering to Dick Cheney and the president behind closed doors from some time now. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kissinger, predictably, expressed optimism for the president's troop surge strategy, saying the plan is "the best way to get the maneuvering room to the changes in deployment and strategy that will be required by the evolving situation." He also endorsed the idea of building permanent military bases in Iraq, noting that the U.S. is likely to a have a military presence there "for a long time to come."

Kissinger, echoing the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, also called for diplomatic talks with countries that neighbor Iraq, including Iran and Syria. He was joined in that sentiment by Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state during the Clinton administration, who also testified at the hearing. "I think we need a surge in diplomacy," she said.

But several democrats on the committee pointed out the obvious, that the president's publicly stated strategy does not include diplomatic regional talks. In fact, said Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, "The president has explicitly rejected international diplomacy [in the region]."

Another presumptive presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, noted that members of Congress are still scratching their heads about what the president's master plan actually is. "The problem in a nutshell is that none of us view the President's projection of forces as his strategy," Obama said. "As far as I can tell no one on this committee knows what this grand strategy is."

-- Caroline Dobuzinskis