Mr. Chairman, Representative Akin, Members of the Committee:
I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today on some of the potential developments that may confront us in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the wider world as a result of the war in Iraq. It is no exaggeration to say that the set of challenges that we have encountered in Iraq since 2003 have defied our powers of prediction over and again. The sad fact is that we should not expect that to change anytime soon. Iraq today is the center of a series of conflicts — some full-blown, others nascent — that are at once interlocking and overlaid. There is a bewildering array of drivers behind these conflicts and a panoply of triggers that might accelerate or decelerate certain trends. Prediction, in this environment, seems especially hazardous.
With that caveat, I would like to address some issues related to the terrorist threat and how it might develop in Iraq and how it will affect Iraq’s neighborhood and our own.
This is part 4 of a 4 part series by the subcommittee. Brookings experts Daniel Byman and Michael O’Hanlon testified in front of the subcommittee on this topic as well.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.