On September 12, 2007, Senator Barack Obama asked the United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker about the lack of progress on the part of the Iraqi government to stabilize itself. Here is what Crocker said:
"I mentioned, uh, uh, several points as General Petraeus has said, uh, what is happening in Iraq is, uh, an ethno-sectarian competition for power and resources. It's -- that's simply the way it is, so the question is: is it played out violently or by other ways. So I think one key indicator is levels of violence going forward, uh, they come down substantially, they need to come down farther, and they need to stay down, uh, so that is obviously something we're going to be, uh, we're going to be looking for, um, uh, as they go down and stay down, uh, it's going to be very important to see the kinds of political responses that we saw, for example, in Anbar and starting to see in Diyala and a few other places, um, the degree to which, um, uh, the issues do move to the political arena and related to that, uh, uh, a third point is, uh, the linkages then that need to develop between the center and the provinces, the outlaying areas, uh, security conditions stabilize, assuming they do -- and the final point coming back to your comment on militias, I think it's going to be very important to see what happens in the, uh, months ahead to, with respect to the government's ability to take on the militia elements in Baghdad and elsewhere."
Crocker could have saved a lot of time by just resubmitting last September's testimony to the Senate today instead of wasting precious fuel at taxpayer expense to appear in Washington only to say exactly the same things.