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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Surge Faltering, Iraq's Future Again at Issue

Council on Foreign Relations

June 26, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

U.S. military analysts say the purpose of the Iraq “surge” is to buy time to allow the country’s political process to go forward. But signs are emerging that the surge, which reached its peak of 150,000 forces earlier this month, has failed to pacify parts of Baghdad and its surrounding “belts.” Gen. David Petraeus urges more time for the strategy, possibly until next spring (CSMonitor). He has a date with Congress in September to present a progress report.

The surge, which added seventy thousand U.S and Iraqi forces across the capital, has failed to prevent an upturn in suicide bombings, including the most recent which struck the heavily fortified Mansour Hotel. Nationwide around two thousand Iraqi civilians and troops were killed in May alone, the highest monthly death toll this year. Increasingly, Iraqi police forces have been revealed to be incompetent and corrupt (TIME). A fake government identification card and official-looking papers are all that is needed to sail past a security checkpoint. Meanwhile, top insurgent leaders apparently slipped away (NYT) ahead of the U.S. military’s latest offensive into Baquba. Indeed, the failure to secure Baghdad and other tumultuous cities prompted Iraq’s Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi to threaten to resign (WashPost), and rumors of a potential coup (Newsweek Int’l) are growing more frequent.

Some U.S. pundits wonder what Iraq will resemble after the bulk of U.S. combat forces withdraw. This new Backgrounder outlines a number of scenarios tabled by U.S. officials and foreign policy experts, from the Bosnia model of a decentralized state to the South Korean model of maintaining an over-the-horizon U.S. military presence. The Vietnam War has also drawn its fair share of parallels to the Iraqi conflict.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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