As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began its hearing into the nomination of Ryan Crocker to be the next U.S. ambassador in Kabul, at least one vote in favor seemed assured.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), the ranking member of the committee, lavished praise on Crocker's performance as ambassador in Baghdad between 2007 and 2009.
"The truth is what Ambassador Crocker accomplished in Iraq was nothing short of a miracle," McCain said. "General Petraeus has obviously received huge praise for the role he played in Iraq and he deserves every bit of it. But as General Petraeus would be the first to affirm, our military strategy in Iraq would never have worked without Ryan Crocker's constant dogged and tireless leadership of our political strategy."
"Throughout this struggle, as rockets smashed into his office in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker performed his duties with courage, poise under pressure, a unique ability to marry strategic vision with tactical effectiveness and a relentless work effort that literally almost killed him," McCain continued.
"I commend the president for recognizing that there is no better man for the job of ambassador to Afghanistan than Ryan Crocker."
For his part, Crocker was careful to rein in expectations of what could be achieved in Afghanistan.
"There is no intention that I see in any of my consultations here....to produce the perfect society," he told the commitee. " We can't. But I think by judicious use of resources and conditions based redeployments and transfers of responsibility as will begin this July – we can get to that sustainable stability," Crocker said.
Talking of the post-2014 environment in Afghanistan, Crocker said: " I do think that we have an interest in ensuring that the country doesn’t backslide, that it just does not again become an al Qaeda safe haven. "
" I do think, as we saw in Iraq, by going in big you can then come out small," he said . " Iraq has oil and it always helps to have oil – move aside the corruption issue there – they can pay for a lot of things that the Afghans can’t."