There's been a lot written about the last two days of testimony before Congress by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, but a letter writer to today's New York Times, Susan Stern of Newton, MA, expressed what I feel most succinctly [emphasis mine]:
How many times have we heard that the latest war strategy is successful? The only difference this time is that, according to Gen. David H. Petraeus, lasting success may take many years to achieve.
We should have never started the Iraq war; it was bungled from the beginning; we have lost our place of leadership in the world; and there is no end in sight.
As bad as it is for Americans, only a small fraction of us bear the brunt of the war. For the Iraqis it is a disaster, hundreds of thousands maimed and killed by coalition bombs and sectarian violence, millions of Iraqi refugees, young jobless men, easy recruits for Al Qaeda.
Some of our senators and representatives say the Iraqis should step up to the plate and reconcile their differences; others say we made the mess and we should stay in Iraq until there is a return to stability. I do not believe that either is possible. I think we should get out of the way as quickly as possible.
As is the case in many regions that have been colonized or invaded by foreign powers, it will take generations to repair the damage we have done. I hope that future presidents will learn from history, Vietnam and Iraq, and will never again try to “liberate” a country from its own dictator.
A member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Flake said yesterday at the hearings, "I still have a hard time seeing the big picture and what constitutes success."
Success is no longer possible in Iraq, Jeff. We need to get out -- now.