Obama renews his call to talk to Iran
Even as sceptical Democrats were hammering away at the failed Iraq policy of the Bush administration including the so-called military surge, the front runner for the Party nomination, Senator Barack Obama used the occasion to renew his call for a "diplomatic surge" that will include talks with Iran.
"We should be talking to them (Iran)as well," Obama told the the US commander in Iraq General David Petraeus and the top political envoy in that country Ryan Crocker.
"I do not believe we are going to be able to stabilize the situation without that," Obama said.
"I think that increased pressure in a measured way, in my mind, and this is where we disagree, includes a timetable for withdrawal. Nobody is asking for a precipitous withdrawal," he said at a Senate Panel hearing.
Gen Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were in back to back hearings on Capitol Hill first facing the Democratic barrage at the Armed Services Committee led by Senator Carl Levin and later in the afternoon at the Senate Foreign relations Committee Chaired by Senator
Joseph Biden, a Presidential contender who dropped out of the race.
"We all have the greatest interest in seeing a successful resolution to Iraq," Obama said even while making the general point that "I continue to believe that the original decision to go into Iraq was a massive strategic blunder, that the two problems you pointed out, Al-Qaeda in Iraq and increased Iranian influence in the region are a direct result of that original decision".
"That's not a decision you gentlemen made. I will not lay it at your feet. You are cleaning up the mess afterwards," the Illinois Democrat who has come under fire from opponents for his suggestion to want to talk to Teheran said.