Sources tell The Cable that Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus, top Iraq commander Gen. Raymond Odierno, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are frustrated by the delay in getting a U.S. ambassador confirmed and into place in Iraq, and support Hill's confirmation proceeding swiftly....
Since the previous ambassador, Ryan Crocker, left the job Feb. 13, Odierno has complained of doing double duty: serving as the commanding general and the de facto ambassador.
Hard to see many Republican senators wanting to be seen working against those guys.
Meanwhile, after posting my story yesterday I spoke with a relatively neutral former State Department official about Hill. His views Hill as a good man for the Iraq ambassador job. Though Hill may not have Middle East experience, he has demonstrated an ability to deal with nasty, stubborn characters like Slobodan Milosevic and Kim Jong Il. Hill is more of a tactical than a strategic thinker, my source explained, and may have been guilty of wanting too badly to make a deal with North Korea--even at the expense of upsetting allies like Japan and South Korea.
But Iraq is not North Korea. In a country where our military holds primacy, and Obama's withdrawal policy is already set, Hill won't have much he can bargain away to Iraqi leaders. He will primarily be working among Iraqi factions to foster political reconciliation within the country. That sort of narrow, tactical work with tough characters is what Hill does best, says this source, and thus the Republicans who oppose him should relax.