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Crocker's Remarks During the House Committee on Armed Services Hearings on Iraq

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008; 2:06 PM

SPEAKER: AMBASSADOR RYAN C. CROCKER

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CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, Congressman Hunter, members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today to provide my assessment of political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq.

When General Petraeus and I reported to you in September, I gave my considered judgment as to whether our goals in Iraq were attainable. Can Iraq develop into a united, stable country with a democratically elected government, operating under the rule of law?

Last September, I said that the cumulative trajectory of political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq was upwards, although the slope of that line was not steep. Developments over the past seven months have strengthened my sense of a positive trend.

Immense challenges remain and progress is uneven and often frustratingly slow, but there is progress. Sustaining that progress will require continuing U.S. resolve and commitment. What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible.

Five years ago today, the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad. The euphoria of that moment evaporated long ago, but as Iraq emerges from the shattering violence of 2006 and the early part of 2007, there is reason to sustain that commitment and the enormous investments we have made both in the lives of our young, brave men and women and our resources.

Let me describe the developments upon which I base such a judgment.

The first is at the national level in the form of legislation and the development of Iraq's parliament. In September, we were disappointed that Iraq had not yet enacted some key pieces of legislation.

In the last several months, Iraq's parliament has formulated, debated vigorously, and in many cases passed legislation dealing with vital issues of reconciliation and nation-building. A pension law extended benefits to individuals who had previously been denied them because of their service under the former regime.

The accountability and justice law, de-Baathification reform passed after lengthy and often contentious debate, reflecting a strengthened spirit of reconciliation, as does a far-reaching amnesty law.

The provincial powers law is a major step forward in defining the relationship between the federal and provincial governments. Passage of this legislation required debate about the fundamental nature of the state, similar in its complexity to our own lengthy and difficult debate over states' rights.


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