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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: No Beginning of the End in Iraq

Council on Foreign Relations

September 7, 2007
Prepared by: Greg Bruno

This summer, as Republican worries over the Iraq war burst into the open, President Bush looked ahead. In July he resisted calls for troop withdrawals and urged lawmakers to wait until mid-September to allow his commander, Gen. David Petraeus, “to come back and give us the report on what he sees.” During a series of policy speeches in August the president reiterated his plea. Next week, the wait will be over.

The infusion of thirty thousand additional U.S. troops in January 2007, or “surge,” was meant to stabilize the country and foster reconciliation among Iraqi factions. A series of military and political benchmarks were meant to chart the Iraqi government’s progress on issues relating to national unity, security, economics, and governance. But experts disagree on the effectiveness of the surge and the value of the metrics measuring violence on the ground. Some accuse the Pentagon of “cherry-picking” (WashPost) positive numbers while downplaying the negatives. “Let’s just say that there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree,” said U.S. Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker.

Col. Michael Meese, a member of Petraeus’ staff measuring the benchmarks, tells in an interview that progress has been made. Sunnis, he says, have turned against al-Qaeda in growing numbers in the “Baghdad Belts,” and the central government is making progress distributing oil wealth and forging national reconciliation. Yet a flurry of Iraq reports released in advance of the updates from Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker lent evidence to opponents of the surge, too.

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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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