All morning here in Washington, we've been watching the Senate Armed Services hearing on Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is there. So is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace. So is Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East.
As we watch, we're trying to figure out what's new. Are there fireworks? Are they arguing? What's the body language? What is said, what is NOT said? We hope to put this all in context for you on the broadcast tonight.
Both Pace and Abizaid seem to have conceded that Iraq is moving towards civil war. Abizaid said the sectarian violence is as bad as he's ever seen it. Rumsfeld has refused all along to say there's civil war, although yesterday he too acknowledged it's heading in that direction.
The one statement that struck me the most was from Gen. Pace, so here it is in its entirety:
"Sir, I believe that we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war, but that does not have to be a fact. I believe that U.S. armed forces can continue to do what we're doing, which is to help provide enough security inside of Iraq for the Iraqi government to provide governance and economic opportunity for their citizens. The weight of that opportunity rests with the Iraqi people. We can provide support, we can help provide security, but they must now decide about their sectarian violence. Shi'a and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other. If they do that and seize the opportunity that the international community has provided to them, then this will be what we want it to be, which is a success for ourselves and the Iraqi people. But the weight of that shift must be on the Iraqi people and Iraqi government."