On June 13, President Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki. “We discussed the security strategy,” Bush said at the time. “And all of it makes sense to me.” The following day, Maliki announced Operation Together Forward, “his government’s new plan to improve security conditions in Baghdad.”
Five months later, Bush will travel to Jordan to meet with Maliki again. Since their June meeting, the situation in Iraq has continued to deteriorate:
- 370 American soldiers have died since mid-June.
- Last month, 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed, “the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq’s sectarian bloodbath.”
- Maj. Gen. William Caldwell admitted Operation Forward Together had failed and had “not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence”
- 7 out of 10 Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave within a year.
- An October classified Pentagon briefing found violence in Iraq was “at all-time high” and “spreading geographically.”
No wonder the White House has been “quick to talk down expectations” for Bush’s trip to Jordan.