Lantos talks tough at Iraq hearing

Here are some excerpts from the opening statement of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, delivered moments ago as his committee and the House Armed Services Committee jointly prepared to hear testimony on progress in Iraq – or the lack thereof – from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker:

“Every single one of us wants you to succeed in your efforts to the maximum possible extent.”

“The administration’s myopic policies in Iraq have created a fiasco… We cannot take any of this administration’s assertions on Iraq at face value anymore.”

“The administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees and the congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say, I don’t buy it.”

“Prime Minister Maliki has not shown the slightest inclination to move in the direction of compromise. Instead of working to build national institutions – a truly Iraqi army, a competent bureaucracy, a nonsectarian police force – Maliki has moved in the opposite direction. … (M)aliki has functioned as the frontman for Shi’ite partisans… This is not what the American people had in mind.”

“America should not be in the business of arming, training and funding both sides of a religious civil war in Iraq.”

“The cost of this war in Iraq will be passed along to our granchildren and beyond.”

“We need to send Maliki’s government a strong message, loud and clear. Removing a brigade is nothing but a political whisper, and it is unacceptable to the American people and a majority of the Congress.”

“Military progress without political progress is meaningless.”

“The situation in Iraq cries out for a dramatic change of course. We need to get out of Iraq for that country’s sake and for our own. It is time to go, and go now.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.