POLITICS
04/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Crocker Continues To Conflate Sunni Resistance With al Qaeda

One of the problems at the root of the so-called "surge" is that it was sold as a means to bring about a broad reconciliation between warring factions in Iraq, an audacious (but not hopeful!) idea, given that the British gave up on pulling off the same achievement in the region decades ago, and that Saddam Hussein only managed to maintain order through the use of wanton brutality. While the "surge" has effectively, and temporarily, limited some of the violence in the region (the wide, neighborhood-by-neighborhood sectarian cleansing that occurred on our watch helped too), it's brought no end to the inter- and intra-sectarian factionalism.

A key problem here is that the Sunni minority are distrustful of the Shiite majority and are reluctant to participate in the new Iraqi government. But it could take decades to heal that division, which is why whenever Petraeus and Crocker have a chance, they blame the "microscopic terrorist organization" al Qaeda in Iraq, not the extant factionalism, for the failure of reconciliation, figuring that while the American people may not be able to endure a futile attempt to bring centuries-old enemies to a government, they might be able to keep trying as long as the attempt is viewed as part of the Global War on Terror.

New Jersey Representative Robert E. Andrews, speaking loudly and forcefully to a restive impatience that's growing in the American electorate, questioned Ambassador, "As far as the American people are concerned it was April of 2003 when Saddam fell...It is now five years...Why should the American people wait five more minutes...?" In response, Crocker attempted to, once again, raise the specter of al Qaeda in Iraq. But Andrews wasn't having it:

[WATCH.]

ANDREWS: The argument that was made by you in September was that a reduction in violence would create the opportunity for a period of real political reconciliation and that was the rationale of the so-called "surge." Now the record shows that there was a de-Baathification law but as you just said key of members of the party - former members of the party - can't work in the defense or interior ministry which means they have no access to the guns. There have been some provincial statutes passed, but the meaningful elections by my judgment had not occurred. We hear they'll occur by October 1st, we've heard that for a very long time. And, perhaps most importantly which is the money - the hydrocarbon has not been passed. Now, I'm not meaning to say here that doing all those things since September it is a mark of abject failure. But my goodness, not doing them since April of 2003 sure looks that so. The world did not begin in September. As far as the American people are concerned it was April of 2003 when Saddam fell, when the forces which General Petraeus participated in and did such a great job of making that happen. It is now five years. No hydrocarbon law, no meaningful distribution for the provinces, no de-Baathification law. Why should the American people wait five more minutes for that to happen?

CROCKER: As for that Congressman while there is no hydrocarbon law and revenue sharing law, in fact revenues are being shared to the provinces. And they are...this process is ongoing, it is seen as equitable, both in predominantly Sunni and predominantly Shia provinces. The provinces have resources because the oil revenues in fact are being shared, and that I think is the important indicator. You talk about Sunni resisters not not wanting to be part of a Shia majority country. Well, in fact, as we have seen in Anbar, in Baghdad, and elsewhere, the Sunnis have decided they don't want to have anything to do with al Qaeda and its supporters. They took a very courageous stand against them and that actually triggered a a broader reconciliation process.

ANDREWS: Well my time is expired. I just want to quickly say that not having anything to do with Al Qaeda is one thing, wanting to have something to do with the new government is quite another.

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