More questions for Gates on Iraq

The answers aren't encouraging.

Published January 12, 2007 4:08PM (EST)

Trying where so many of his colleagues failed yesterday, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin just attempted to get Defense Secretary Robert Gates to say what will happen if the Iraqi government doesn't meet the commitments that the White House is using to justify an escalation of the war in Iraq. Gates' response: "If they fail to do these things, then it's incumbent on the administration and incumbent on me to recommend looking at whether this is the right strategy."

John McCain followed up by asking Gates if he's confident that the Iraqis will live up to their commitments this time around. Gates said Nouri al-Maliki's government sure seems enthusiastic about doing what it needs to do this time, but he acknowledged that "the record of fulfilling the commitments is not an encouraging one."

Events in Iraq aren't particularly encouraging, either. As Sen. Ted Kennedy just noted, Maliki didn't even show up for a press conference where he was expected to discuss Bush's new plan.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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