Warner, Levin: "Not optimistic" on Iraq

Senators suggest Iraqis may have to consider replacing their government.

Published August 20, 2007 8:12PM (EDT)

Two senators whose foreign policy bona fides carry significant weight with their colleagues are back from a fact-finding trip to Iraq, and the facts they've found won't come as a surprise: The "surge" is creating some "breathing room" for Iraqi politicians, but the politicians aren't doing much with the air they've been given.

In a joint statement released today, Republican Sen. John Warner and Democratic Sen. Carl Levin say meetings with Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and other U.S. and Iraqi officials left them "not optimistic" that Iraqis will make the political compromises that the "surge" is supposed to be making possible.

"In many meetings with Iraqi political leaders of all different backgrounds, we told them of the deep impatience of the American people and the Congress with the lack of political progress, impressed upon them that time has run out in that regard, and told them of the urgent need to make the essential compromises," Warner and Levin write. "In all of our meetings we witnessed a great deal of apprehension regarding the capabilities of the current Iraqi government to shed its sectarian biases and act in a unifying manner."

Warner and Levin don't say what the United States should do if the Iraqi government continues to fail to make political progress, but they do have some advice for the Iraqi people: "We believe that the recent high-level meetings among Iraqi political leaders could be the last chance for this government to solve the Iraqi political crisis, and should it fail, we believe the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Iraqi people need to judge the government of Iraq's record and determine what actions should be taken -- consistent with the Iraqi constitution -- to form a true unity government to meet those responsibilities."

By Tim Grieve

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

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