The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker defended U.S. war strategy on Tuesday in the face of criticism from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Following are some quotes from lawmakers at the hearing:
FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JOSEPH BIDEN, A DELAWARE DEMOCRAT AND 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "If we killed or captured every jihadist in Iraq tomorrow, we would still face a major sectarian war. ... The American people will not support an infinite war whose sole remaining purpose is to prevent the situation in Iraq from becoming worse than it is today ... We should stop the surge and start bringing our troops home."
FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE RANKING REPUBLICAN RICHARD LUGAR OF INDIANA: "Because of the politically charged nature of the debate, military planning and diplomacy related to any 'Plan B' are constrained by concerns that either would be perceived as evidence of a lack of confidence in the president's surge strategy. We need to lay the groundwork for sustainable alternatives, so that as the president and Congress move to a new plan, it can be implemented effectively and rapidly."
CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATIC SEN. CHRIS DODD, A 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "I don't get a feeling here that there's any real opportunity or optimism, that this is going to get better. ... We have been begging that leadership for the last four and a half years to get their act together, begging them to do it, understanding that only they can do it. Yet you come here again this morning four and a half years later and argue about statistics, but (provide) no real indication that we're getting any closer to that."
NEBRASKA REPUBLICAN SEN. CHUCK HAGEL: "It seems to me logical that when you flood a zone with more troops ... you're going to see some result. So I don't think that's particularly news that (because) we've inserted more American troops costing more American lives, we've seen some differences. ... Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate we are doing now, for what? The president said let's buy time. Buy time? For what?"
MINNESOTA REPUBLICAN SEN. NORM COLEMAN: "As we listen to the American people on this issue, what I think we do need, what we don't even have now in spite of this testimony, is objective measures of progress. ... Can we lay on the table something, so that when we have the next downturn ... that we at least have some objective measures to say that we are on a path to progress? ... Can we get a longer term plan, can we say, 'Yeah, we can get down to half our troops in three years?'"