WASHINGTON - The Senate has confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander in the Middle East and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as the chief military officer in Iraq.And CNN reported that the two “No” votes against Petraeus were cast by Robert Byrd and Tom Harkin, with Harkin also voting against Odierno; Byrd’s full statement is here, and I must say that it showed a lot of deliberation. Here is a notable excerpt (from the CNN story)…
The Senate voted 95-2 in favor of Petraeus and 96-1 for Odierno.
Gen. Petraeus' career will be judged in large part by his role in the Iraq conflict," Byrd said. "His reticence to address other regional issues raises questions about his willingness to devote the focus and the resources needed to address them properly."And Harkin voted against both Petraeus and Odierno because, in essence, they had no plan for redeploying our military out of Iraq to fight the greatest terrorist threats we truly face.
But aside from Byrd and Harkin, I have a feeling that this is yet another example of Congress failing on the whole “advise and consent” thing.
I mean, couldn’t our Senators have first asked Petraeus how we’re doing on countering the insurgents in Iraq, since Petraeus stated here that such an operation “could take nine to ten years”? I mean, are we in the equivalent of Year Three at this point? Or Four? Or Five?
Did anyone bother to find out the current state of Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way," though four months after he spoke those words, the police chief installed by Petraeus defected to the insurgents, along with most of the Sunni members of the police force (Mosul, population 1.7 million, became an insurgent stronghold, according to the Pentagon's own report – I have no word on Mosul’s current status).
Also, does Petraeus (or anyone else) have a clue as to what happened to the money we provided for the program to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow was looted from Iraq’s Ministry of Defense (most of the $2.3 billion ended up in foreign bank accounts, and the equipment provided for the training program overseen by Petraeus was of poor quality – both the Mosul and training issues were noted in this prior post).
Also, is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (may be a question for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway).
It would have been nice if our Senators had bothered to ask Petraeus for updates on this before they bothered to confirm him, wouldn’t it (and more scrutiny of Odierno, given the unpopularity of the war, would have been called for also).
Looks to me like (mentally, at least) some members of Congress haven’t returned from their July 4th recess yet.