C-Span carried the hearings live. General Petraeus looked and sounded good. Crocker did OK, although there were a couple of times where he should have answered "Yes' or "No" and didn't. Ranking committee member John McCain was impressive. McCain's questions where real questions, which prompted the witness (Petraeus) to offer more and useful information. The committee democrats just made anti-war speeches. The democrats tried hard to get Petraeus and Crocker to commit to a withdrawal date, but they wisely refused. You don't tell the enemy when you plan to go home, that just makes the enemy hunker down until you leave him in charge.
Crocker is negotiating a "status of forces" agreement with the Iraqi government. The UN resolution that OK'ed the US invasion will expire end of this year. "Status of Forces" is the usual agreement between our government and foreign governments that allows armed US troops into said foreign country. Such agreements usually spell out legal jurisdictions, does a US soldier have to face the local justice when crimes are alleged? We try hard to put in a clause that give the US Army jurisdiction, but that doesn't always fly with the locals. Interesting point, Crocker said the status of forces agreement would be handled by executive order without the advice and consent of the US senate. Most of the existing status of forces agreements were handled as real treaties needing Senate OK. This might give rise to more Senate grandstanding before the election.
Petraeus and Crocker feel that the recent shootouts in Basra and other places represents the Maliki government getting strong enough to take out the militias, which is a good thing even if taking them out leads to a bit of mortar fire into the Green Zone.