I wasn't able to hear any of GEN Petraeus' and Ambassador Crocker's testimony this past week. I suspect that I pretty much know how it went:
Typical GOP Senator "question": "Well, I just wanted to personally thank you, and as I reminded my constituents in my very last newsletter here at SenI'mrichwhyaren'tyou.gov, my dear, dear, heroic American General, for your sacrifice in travelling here from your air-conditioned trailer in the Green Zone to tell us the truth that those lying, traitorous Democrat Party rats will deny - that freedom is on the march in Iraq and the only way to stop it is for unAmerican cowards to "betray-us", isn't that right?"
GEN Petraeus: "Ummm, yes, certainly, well, that may obtain, Senator, yes. I'm not here to talk politics, but, we are making progress and we want the American people to understand that our wogs are nicer and better than their wogs, who are probably Iranian and certainly do not bathe as much as they should. Oh and did I mention Al Qaeda?"
Typical Democratic Senator "question": "Now, General, and not that I'd ever even imply that our problems in the Middle East may reflect our foreign policy choices or possible but not very likely errors mostly caused by an excess of good intentions, isn't it possible that your troops are just possibly the teensy-eensiest involved in an Iraqi internal squabble that has nothing to do with the eeeeevil Islamic enemies that threated our very precious bodily fluids?"
GEN Petraeus: "Yes, Senator, it IS all the fault of the skulking Persian dogs. Thank you."
What did we learn? Fred Kaplan sums it up pretty well: nothing. Dubya's still the Man and the Man say - kiss my ass, I'm not goin'.
Is there anything to be saved from this mess? Well it beats the fuck out of me. But I can tell you this: I don't know of a single functional democracy in what used to be the old Ottoman Empire. Not one. Not a damn one. Turkey - the closest thing to one - needed a ruthless dictator (that's what Ataturk was, though his intentions were good his methods were pretty hard) to get even that close. They didn't call that bastard the "Sick Man of Europe" for nothing.
I'm not even sure how you'd go about making an impoverished former Ottoman province with a long history of despotism and corruption into one.
Makes you wonder why I'm not the President. At least I'm smart enough to know when to stop digging a hole for myself.