The much-anticipated testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker is upon us. At Peace Action West, we have been working to build momentum toward the fall, as many war skeptics in Congress marked this testimony as a potential decision point on a new direction for the occupation of Iraq. We have been operating under the assumption that the Petraeus report would offer us no big surprises, and would continue to seek justification for a failing military policy. According to recent polling, the American public was expecting an overly optimistic and inaccurate report:
But though the public assessment of progress in Iraq remains largely negative, most expected Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, to express a rosier view when he begins his congressional testimony tomorrow. Only about four in 10 said they expect the general to give an accurate accounting of the situation in Iraq. A majority, 53 percent, said they think his report will try to make the situation in Iraq look better than it really is.
As on many issues involving Iraq, Democrats and Republicans have decidedly divergent views, with independents largely tilting toward the Democratic vantage point. Just 23 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents expected an honest depiction of conditions in Iraq. By contrast, two-thirds of Republicans anticipated a straightforward accounting.
The testimony does not seem to be having much effect on how people feel about the occupation of Iraq, although it has apparently strengthened the resolve of some Republicans who were wavering on their support of the surge strategy.
Tonight, President Bush will address the nation and attempt to sell the reduction of troops to pre-surge levels as a middle ground for people who want change in Iraq. While many members of Congress have deemed this unacceptable, the leadership is still leaning toward weaker legislation that does not include a clear timeline for withdrawal. These next few weeks will be critical in keeping the pressure on Congress. If you haven’t yet, please sign our pledge stating you will not vote for, contribute to, or volunteer for any member of Congress who does not take action to end the occupation of Iraq, and pass it along to your friends.