Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Iraq After the Surge: What Next?

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: April 8, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

PROTESTER: (Inaudible) -- General Petraeus, get us out of Iraq -- (inaudible) -- now and please stay out of Iran!

SEN. BIDEN: (Strikes gavel.) Let me -- while our witnesses are taking their seat, let me begin by saying to the audience you are welcome. We're delighted to have you here. But I will tell you now anyone who speaks up, whether it's praiseworthy or otherwise, under any circumstances during the hearing, I will ask the Capitol Police to escort them permanently from the hearing room, so that we can spend our time talking to the witnesses.

As I said in the anteroom to our distinguished witnesses, we're delighted to have you back. (Chuckles.) I don't know how delighted you are to be back. But thank you for your patience, and again, welcome to the Foreign Relations Committee.

To state the obvious, gentlemen, we, the two of you and all of us on this platform, share a common responsibility to defend the security of the United States of America. And your assignment to do so is focused on Iraq. And you perform that mission with extraordinary skill and courage, in my view. This country owes you and all the women and men who serve under each of you a genuine debt of gratitude, both those in uniform and out of uniform.

I want to, as one of the many on this platform who have visited Iraq on scores of occasions, or on many occasions, point out that there are -- that civilians are being killed, U.S. Foreign Service personnel are wounded, civilian personnel are injured, as well as our military women and men. And we owe them all, all of them, a great debt of gratitude, a debt, to state the obvious, we're not going to be able to fully repay.

But gentlemen, your mission is limited to Iraq, and Congress and the president have a broader responsibility. We have to decide where and when to send troops, how to spend our treasure, not just in Iraq but around the entire world. We have to prioritize among the many challenges to our security -- I know you're fully aware of what they are -- but the many challenges to our security and the many needs of the American people that extend and exceed Iraq. We have to judge how our actions in one place affect our ability to act in other places. And we have to make hard choices based on finite resources.

As you rightly said this morning, General, it is not your job to answer those questions, although you're fully capable of answering those broader questions; it's the responsibility of those, as you put it, in an exchange, as I recall, with Senator Warner, who have a broader view to make these larger decisions about allocation of resources. Your focus is and should be and has been well focused on America's interests in Iraq and how our interests are affected based on how things go in Iraq.

Our focus and -- must be America's security in the world and how to make us more secure at home overall.

The purpose of the surge was to bring violence down, so that Iraq leaders could come together politically. Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together, at least not in the fashion that was anticipated. Our military has played a very important role and the surge has played a role in reducing the violence, but so, as you've acknowledged, did other developments: first, the Sunni awakening, which preceded the surge but was in fact enabled by the surge; second, the Sadr cease-fire, which, to state the obvious, could end as we're speaking; and third, the sectarian cleansing that has left Baghdad -- much of Baghdad separated, with fewer targets to shoot at and to bomb, over 4-1/2 million people displaced in and out of Iraq.

And these tactical gains are real, but they are relative. Violence is now where it was in 2005 and spiking up again. Iraq is still incredibly dangerous, and despite what the president said last week, it is very, very, very far from normal. These are gains, but they are fragile gains. Awakening members, frustrated at the government's refusal to integrate them into the normal security forces, as you know better than I, General and Ambassador, could turn their guns on us tomorrow. Sadr could end his cease-fire at any moment, and maybe his cease-fire is beyond his control to maintain. Sectarian chaos could resume with the bombing of another major mosque.

Most importantly, the strategic purpose of our surge, in my view, has not been realized, and that is genuine power sharing that gives Iraqi factions the confidence to pursue their interests peacefully. What progress we've seen has come at the local level, with deal and truces made among tribes and tribe members and other grass-roots groups, that is, political progress, very different than was anticipated. There is little sustainable progress, though, at the national level, and in my view, little evidence we're going to see any anytime soon. Yes, Iraqi leaders have passed some law, but the details as they emerge and implementation as it lags -- this progress seems likely to, in many cases, undermine reconciliation as opposed to advance it.

Despite this reality, it is your recommendation that when the surge ends, we should not further draw down American forces so that we would -- for fear we'd jeopardize the progress we've made. If that's the case, we're appreciably closer -- or the question is, are we appreciably closer than we were 15 months ago to the goal the president set for Iraq when he announced the surge, and that is a country that can, quote, "govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself in peace."

If we stay the course, will we be any closer 15 months from now to that goal than we are today?

It seems to me that we're stuck where we started before the surge, with 140,000 troops in Iraq and no end in sight. That, in my view, is unsustainable. It is unsustainable from a military perspective according to serving and retired military officers. And it is unacceptable to the American people.

The president likes to talk about the consequences of drawing down our forces in Iraq. And he makes a dire case, which you echoed this morning. That's a debate we should have. The president's premises are highly debatable. We've heard detailed testimony in this committee from military and civilian experts that disagree with the premises and the conclusions as what would follow if, in fact, we withdrew from Iraq. Would starting to leave really strengthen al Qaeda in Iraq and give it a launching pad to attack America, as has been asserted, or would it eliminate what's left of al Qaeda's indigenous support in Iraq?

What about al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan -- the people who actually attacked us on 9/11? We know where they live. We know who they are. And we don't have the capacity to do much about it. If we leave, would they be emboldened? Or would, to paraphrase a national intelligence estimate on terrorism, would they lose one of their most effective recruiting tools, the notion that we're in Iraq to stay with permanent military bases and control over the oil -- not our stated goals, but the propaganda tool being used? And would they, in fact, if we left Iraq, risk the full measure of American might which they're able to avoid now in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

What about Iran?

Would leaving actually increase its already huge influence on Iraq? Or would it shift the burden of Iraq from us to them and make our forces a much more credible deterrent to Iranian misbehavior?

These are open questions. Equally competent people as you have testified before us that the results would be the opposite that you and the president have posited. Worth debating.

Would our departure accelerate sectarian chaos? Or would it cause the Iraqi leaders and Iraqis' neighbors to finally begin to act responsibly and make the compromises they have to make in order to literally be able to live? If they are as exhausted with fighting as is asserted, we should debate the consequences of starting to leave Iraq. That's totally legitimate.

But more importantly is the debate we're not having. We should also talk about what the president refuses to acknowledge: the increasingly intolerable cost of staying in Iraq.

The risks of leaving Iraq are debatable. The costs of staying, with 140,000 troops, are totally knowable. And they get steeper and steeper and steeper every single day.

The continued loss of life and limb of our soldiers. The emotional and economic strain on our troops and their families due to repeated extended tours, as Army Chief of Staff George Casey recently told us. The drain on our Treasury -- $12 billion every month -- that we could spend on housing, education, health care or reducing the deficit.

The impact on the readiness of our armed forces. Tying down so many troops that we've heard, from Vice Chief of Staff, for the Army, Richard Cody, we don't have any left over to deal with new emergencies.

The inability to send enough soldiers to the real central front, in the war on terror, which lies between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where al Qaeda has regrouped and is plotting new attacks and is alive and well. And we know where they live.

Last month in Afghanistan, General McNeill, who commands the international forces, told me that with two extra combat brigades, about 10,000 soldiers, he could turn around the security situation in the South, where the Taliban is on the move. But he then readily acknowledged he knows they're not available. There's no way he can get 10,000 troops, because they're tied down in Iraq.

Even when we do pull troops out of Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, says we would have to send them home for a year of rest and retraining before we could even send them to Afghanistan where, everyone acknowledges, more troops are needed.

Senator Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and I wrote to Secretaries Rice and Gates to request that, like you, General McNeill and our ambassador to Afghanistan testify jointly before our committees, so we can make logical choices based on specific requests coming out of each of those theaters as to which is the place we should spend our limited resources.

We've spent less in six years in Afghanistan than we spend in three weeks, three weeks, in Iraq. So we still don't have a response, I might add.

15 months into the surge, we've gone from drowning to treading water. We're still spending $3 billion every week. And we're still losing -- thank God, it's less -- but 30 to 40 American lives every month.

We can't keep treading water without exhausting ourselves. That's what the president seems to be asking us to do. He can't tell us when or even if Iraqis will come together politically. He can't tell us when or even if we will draw down below the pre-surge level. He can't tell us when or even if Iraq will be able to stand on its own two feet.

He says Iraqi army -- we'll stand down; Iraqi army stands up. Which Iraqi army? A sectarian Iraqi army made up of all of Shi'a, or an interethnic Iraqi army trusted by all the people? He can't tell us when or even if this war will end.

Most Americans want this war to end.

I believe all do, including you gentlemen. They want us to come together around a plan to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind. They are not defeatists, as some have suggested. They are patriots. They understand the national interests and the great things America can achieve if we responsibly end the war we should not have started. I believe it's fully within our power to do that, and the future of our soldiers, our security and our country will be much brighter when we succeed in getting out of Iraq without leaving chaos behind. I yield to my colleague, Chairman Lugar.

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SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

And I join you in welcoming General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We truly commend their skilled service in Iraq and the achievements that United States military and diplomatic personnel have been able to bring forward under their leadership. We are grateful for the decline in fatalities among Iraqi civilians and United States personnel and the expansion of security in many regions and neighborhoods throughout Iraq.

Last week, our committee held a series of hearings in anticipation of today's hearing. We engaged numerous experts on the situation in Iraq and on strategies for moving forward. Our discussions yielded several premises that might guide our discussion today.

First, the surge has succeeded in improving the conditions on the ground in many areas of Iraq and creating, quote, "breathing space", end of quote for exploring political accommodation. Economic activity has improved and a few initial political benchmarks have been achieved. The United States took advantage of Sunni disillusionment with al-Qaeda tactics, the Sadr faction's desire for a cease-fire, and other factors to construct multiple cease-fire agreements with tribal and sectarian leaders. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis who previously had sheltered al-Qaeda and targeted Americans are currently contributing to security operations, drawn by their interest in self- preservation and United States payments.

Second, security improvements derived purely from American military operations have reached or almost reached a plateau. Military operations may realize some marginal security gains in some areas, but these gains are unlikely to be transformational for the country beyond what has already occurred. Progress moving forward depends largely on political events in Iraq.

Third, despite the improvements in security, the central government has not demonstrated that it can construct a "top-down" political accommodation for Iraq. The Iraqi government is afflicted by corruption and shows signs of sectarian bias. It still has not secured the confidence of most Iraqis or demonstrated much competence in performing basic government functions, including managing Iraq's oil wealth, overseeing reconstruction programs, delivering government assistance to the provinces, or creating jobs. Fourth, though portions of the Iraqi population are tired of the violence and would embrace some type of permanent cease fire or political accommodation, sectarian and tribal groups remain heavily armed and are focused on expanding or solidifying their positions.

The lack of technical competence within the Iraqi government, external interference by the Iranians and others, the corruption and criminality at all levels of Iraqi society, the departure from Iraq of many of its most talented citizens, the lingering terrorist capability of al Qaeda in Iraq, seemingly intractable disputes over territories and oil assets and power struggles between and within sectarian and tribal groups all impede a sustainable national reconciliation. Iraq will be an unstable country for the foreseeable future, and if some type of political settlement can be reached, it will be inherently fragile.

Fifth, operations in Iraq have severely strained the United States military, and these strains will impose limits on the size and length of future deployments to Iraq, irrespective of political divisions or the outcome of the elections in our country. Last week, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Richard Cody, the vice chief of staff of the Army, testified, and I quote, "Today, our Army is out of balance. The current demand for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds our sustainable supply of soldiers, of units and equipment, and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies. Our readiness, quite frankly, is being consumed as fast as we build it. Lengthy and repeated deployments with insufficient recovery time at home station have placed incredible stress on our soldiers and on their families, testing the resolve of the all-volunteer force like never before." End of quote from the general. Later in the hearing, General Cody said, and I quote again, "I've never seen our lack of strength -- of strategic depth be at where it is today." End of quote.

Limitations imposed by these stresses were echoed in our own hearings. General Barry McCaffrey asserted that troop levels in Iraq have to be reduced, stating that the Army is experiencing significant recruiting and retention problems, and that 10 percent of recruits should not be in uniform.

Major General Robert Scales testified, and I quote, "In a strange twist of irony for the first time since the summer of 1863 the number of ground soldiers available is determining American policy rather than policy determining how many troops we need. The only point of contention is how precipitous will be the withdrawal and whether the schedule of withdrawal should be a matter of administration policy." End of quote.

If one accepts the validity of all or most of these five premises, the terms of our inquiry today are much different than they were last September. At that time, the president was appealing to Congress to allow the surge to continue to create breathing space for a political accommodation. Today, the questions are whether and how improvements in security can be converted into political gains that can stabilize Iraq despite the impending drawdown of United States troops.

Simply appealing for more time to make progress is insufficient. Debate over how much progress we have made and whether we can make more is less illuminating than determining whether the administration has a definable political strategy that recognizes the time limitations we face and seeks a realistic outcome designed to protect American vital interests.

Our witnesses last week offered a wide variety of political strategies for how we might achieve an outcome that would preserve regional stability, prevent the worst scenarios for bloodshed, and protect basic United States security interests. These included focusing more attention on building the Iraqi army, embracing the concept of federalism, expanding the current bottom-up cease-fire matrix into a broader national accommodation, negotiating with the Iraqis in the context of an announced U.S. withdrawal, and creating a regional framework to bolster Iraqi security.

But none of our witnesses last week claimed that the task in Iraq was simple or the outcome would likely fulfill the ideal of a pluralist democratic nation closely aligned with the United States. All suggested that spoiling activities and the fissures in Iraqi society could undermine even the most well-designed efforts by the United States.

Unless the United States is able to convert progress made thus far into a sustainable political accommodation that supports our long- term national security objectives in Iraq, this progress will have limited meaning. We cannot assume that sustaining some level of progress is enough to achieve success, especially when we know that current American troop levels in Iraq have to be reduced and spoiling forces will be at work in Iraq. We need a strategy that anticipates a political end game and employs every plausible means to achieve it.

I thank General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker for joining us. I look forward to our discussion of how the United States can define success and then achieve our vital objectives in Iraq.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

With Chairman Lugar's permission, I think we should do seven- minute rounds. Is that -- and thank you, gentlemen, for your physical constitution here, being able to sustain all this.

Let me begin with a statement. Mr. Ambassador, I would not presume that if the security agreement with Iraq goes beyond a status of forces agreement, that you need only inform the Congress. You need to much more than inform the Congress. You need the permission of the Congress if you're going to bind the next president of the United States in anything you agree to.

But that will be something -- (applause).

There will be no response, please, from the audience.

But we will have plenty of time to discuss that.

Let's assume, gentlemen, all the progress you assert has been made. And I don't think anybody denies there's been progress made. And let's assume that and, I believe, you mean what you say, that our commitment is not open-ended.

How far along this continuum if, as they say, as the average Americans say, on a scale of 1 to 10, how far along are we on this progress scale before we get to the point where we can significantly reduce American forces? Three, four, five, seven, eight, nine? Where are we?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, Senator --

SEN. BIDEN: Give us some sense of how much progress has been made relative to how much needs to be made, not in specific kinds of progress, that needs to be made in order for you to recommend to the president of the United States, Mr. President, we can not only draw down totally the surge but well below, well below what we have committed, have had in place the last three years?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, again Senator, you just mentioned the fact that we are in fact drawing down the forces that did constitute the surge. And that was part of the recommendation. It would have been a very, very difficult recommendation to do otherwise. But certainly that was in the realm of the possible.

And that was made possible by the progress that we have made particularly against al Qaeda Iraq and Sunni insurgents.

SEN. BIDEN: You're allowed to draw -- you recommended drawing down before a pause to the level that's 10,000 above what it was before the surge. Is that about right?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, it's actually less than that. But again that's in the ballpark.

SEN. BIDEN: But it's above what it was.

GEN. PETRAEUS: It is above because of certain enablers, in particular, military --

SEN. BIDEN: But in the interest of time, can you give me a sense? If you don't want to answer, just tell me you don't want to answer.

On this scale of 1 to 10, to get to the point where you turn to the president and say, Mr. President, we can go down well below 130, which is the pre-surge level, how far along are we?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, I think we're in a 6 or a 7 or somewhere along there, Senator Biden.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.

GEN. PETRAEUS: And what we'll do again is assess the conditions.

Now, it doesn't mean that we have to wait beyond --

SEN. BIDEN: No. I understand.

GEN. PETRAEUS: -- much longer beyond 45 days.

SEN. BIDEN: I just want to get a sense of where we are in this continuum.

GEN. PETRAEUS: Okay, sir.

SEN. BIDEN: Secondly, Mr. Ambassador, is al Qaeda a greater threat to U.S. interests in Iraq or in the Afghan-Pakistan border region?

AMB. CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, al Qaeda is a strategic threat to the United States wherever it is, in my --

SEN. BIDEN: Where is most of it? If you could take it out, you had a choice, the Lord Almighty came down and sat in the middle of the table there and said, Mr. Ambassador, you can eliminate every al Qaeda source in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or every al Qaeda personnel in Iraq, which would you pick?

AMB. CROCKER: Well, given the progress that has been made against al Qaeda in Iraq, the significant decrease in its capabilities, the fact that it is solidly on the defensive and not in a position as far as --

SEN. BIDEN: Which would you pick, Mr. Ambassador?

AMB. CROCKER: I would therefore pick al Qaeda in the Pakistan- Afghanistan border area.

SEN. BIDEN: That would be a smart choice.

Now, assume that all the progress you assert has occurred. What further is required for you to suggest, either of you, that the progress can be sustained at levels under 140,000 troops, $12 billion a month, 30-to-40 deaths a month and 225 wounded a month? Because that's where we are now.

Where we are now is -- to maintain where we are now, you're saying to us, at least for the next 45 days, we have to continue to have 140,000 roughly troops in place, we have to spend $12 billion a month, we're going to probably sustain 30 to 40 deaths a month and we're going to have somewhere around 225 wounded a month. So what has to happen -- what has to happen for us to be able to reduce the cost in life and in dollars and in deployment?

GEN. PETRAEUS: There has to be progress in various local areas that we will look at, Senator, because again, what we'll be doing is the -- an essentially combination of battlefield geometry that looks at the enemy and the friendly situations, that looks at other factors, and there's also what the ambassador has termed the political military calculus. And you take that into account in local areas, most likely province by province, and determine -- we already have four or five locations that we are looking at most closely -- and determining whether to off-ramp those units at an appropriate moment, assuming progress can continue --

SEN. BIDEN : Well let me -- thank you. My time is running out. You're -- tell me me whether or not there are any conditions under which you would recommend us leaving, conditions meaning they got a lot worse. You say to maintain the progress.

Is there any conditions in which those charts you showed us, if this time in November or October, the American deaths have spiked back up to 2006 level, if in fact the awakening has decided it's awake and it's not going to be integrated and it's better to go to war with the Sunnis, the civil war becomes more a reality. If in fact the numerous militia that exist among the Shi'a are in open war, not just in Basra but for an extended period of time with one another. Are any of those conditions such that you would say, we're going to have to withdraw and contain, or would you just automatically say -- not automatically, would you say we have to once again infuse more forces back into Iraq to settle it?

We talk about this in terms of, you say to sustain the progress. What happens notwithstanding the pause if in fact the progress is reversed obviously, significantly and unalterably? What do you do then? Do you just come back and tell us the same?

AMB. CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, it would be -- it would depend on the specifics at the time.

SEN. BIDEN: Let me give you the specifics: 90,000 Shi'a say, "We're not getting dealt in" and the same kind of exchange in violence between Sunni and Shi'a is reignited in September from Anbar Province into Basra -- excuse me, Anbar Province into Baghdad, and that same level of ethnosectarian violence is once again established.

That's a condition. What do you do?

AMB. CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, I really don't think you can have a productive conversation that is purely based on those hypotheticals. I mean how --

SEN. BIDEN: They're not hypotheticals.

AMB. CROCKER: How did it get that way?

PROTESTOR: (Off mike.)

AMB. CROCKER: How did it get that way? I don't see that as likely, given what is lying ahead in terms of provincial elections, for example. I think that is where you're going to see both Sunnis and Shi'a focused, who prepare for those --

SEN. BIDEN: If that was just -- if the elections don't get carried off because of violence?

AMB. CROCKER: Then we'll look at the circumstances and assess.

SEN. BIDEN: I can't think of any circumstance where you fellows are likely to recommend, no matter how bad things got, where you would withdraw. But I may be mistaken. That's part of everyone's concern, at least mine.

I yield to my colleague, Senator Lugar.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

SEN. BIDEN: Senator, let me say -- with the witnesses here, that we're having a hearing on this with the administration on Thursday -- on this very thing. I guarantee you, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, this committee will know exactly what is in that agreement, number one. Number two, we've been told thus far it doesn't settle it; that there is no -- there will not be any, as it was just stated, will not be any executive agreement, so it does not rise to any enforceable agreement.

The danger -- in my view, I think we're going to find, is the Iraqis are going to think it means something, and we're going to be acknowledging it doesn't mean anything other than a wish, an aspiration; because it says -- I've been told by the administration, they would "consult" with the Iraqis if the following things were to occur -- "consult,' not binding anyone. If it's anything short of that, then it rises to a different level. But I promise you we will know exactly -- exactly -- what this strategic framework agreement entails.

And I asked the chairman, a moment ago, whether he had any closing statement, and his indication was, no. I just want to do a little bit of housekeeping, it'll take two more minutes. There are some things I'd like to follow up with, in writing, and to see if you would be prepared to respond to.

I'd just say, generically, General, that you said, you know, we're at the early stages of the Iraqis being able to do -- take care of themselves. General, we're long past the early stages. We're six years into this. We're very long in the tooth. I know what you mean by it. But, just so you know, up here, and in the country, we're way beyond the early stages. There's just a little bit of time left.

And the second point I'd make is, the reason why you find so many people, Mr. Ambassador, fixating on the Iraqis paying more, we are, we've spent -- we've sat with the Pentagon; we've been in-theatre; we have met with the State Department; everyone agrees we should be doing, roughly, $150 million for Pakistan now, to aid their new government, to deal with the construction, to deal with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, et cetera. We can't find $150 million -- let's just get it is we can't find 150 million bucks.

So if they picked up the $150 million, that we're doing -- which I think we should be doing, the, quote, "paying" -- paying, compensating the forces, it means -- it's this big deal. It means that, what everyone says is a critical, critical, critical moment for us in U.S.-Pakistan relations -- right now -- we need $150 million. We can't get it.

We can't even be assured we're going to get the money that the Defense Department says, and the State Department says they need for a piece of legislation that was spearheaded -- I co-sponsored it, but the real credit goes to my colleague here, to provide for a, in the future, a civilian force available to compensate for, or to add to, or to take over responsibilities that need in the future.

So, I just want you to understand, when we're -- this is not about being punitive with the Iraqis. We're, we're scraping just there, $175 million for two things everybody says. The chairman of the -- the secretary of Defense makes a speech saying there's a 19:1 ratio that we're spending, versus diplomacy -- versus the military, is unacceptable. (Laughs.) We've got to change it.

Ryan, we can't get it done. Money. So, this is nickel and dimes, when you're talking about a continued commitment of $3 billion a week -- for some period anyway, but it's a big, big, big, big deal strategically. And so that's why you're going to get a lot of pressure on that.

And the last point -- it's been a long day, Ambassador Crocker, but I would like you to, in writing, answer the question that was posed by Senator Obama. If -- not, -- we have a lot of other hypotheticals, if, in fact, the status quo, as it exists today, were guaranteed to be able to be sustained over the next five years, would that be sufficient for us to considerably -- (laughs) -- drawdown American forces?

We got to get some benchmark for -- not benchmark, wrong phrase -- some matrix for people to get a sense of what we're talking about here. Otherwise, we're going to lose all support for anything, in my -- just a politician speaking now, in my opinion.

So, there's a number of things that -- it will not be a long list of things, but there's three or four things I'd like to, a little, clean-up -- not clean up, but follow up on some of the things we've mentioned.

And it is not, again, a desire to embarrass anybody, but, you know, if you had to guess for me, who's closer, Maliki or Sadr, to the Iranians, that's a -- that's a kind of hard call. You know, the Badr Brigade was called a Badr Brigade because it was part of the Iranian revolutionary group, okay. And the Badr Brigade is the place where Maliki -- no, you don't? Oh, you don't think he's there?

AMB. CROCKER: The Badr Brigade is associated with the Supreme -- Islamic Supreme Council, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Prime Minister Maliki is from the Dawa Party.

SEN. BIDEN: No, I know he's from the Dawa Party, but he is siding now with Hakim, relative to Sadr. That's all I'm saying. I mean he is -- anyway, I don't want to -- I've kept you too long, but I'm going to, I'm going to put some of this down. You guys have an incredibly difficult job. You're doing your job, I think, very well.

And the last point is, Ambassador Crocker, just so you know, nobody thinks you're surging. (Laughs.) Nobody thinks there's a diplomatic surge anywhere. Nobody. Nobody. And we need a surge. But that's another issue.

So if you -- I invite any closing comment you'd like to make. And I'll close by saying, thank you. Your patience is amazing, and your physical stamina exceeds your good judgment, I think, here. I mean, this has -- it's been a long day for you, but thank you very much.

We stand adjourned. (Gavel sounds.)

AMB. CROCKER: Thank you, Senator.