Early this week, the Pentagon delivered to Congress its “first comprehensive statistical overview of the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq.” Citing “uneven cooperation” and little “concrete progress,” the report concluded that “reconciliation between Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni factions” remains “a serious unfulfilled objective.” Further, the report found that suicide bombings across Iraq have doubled since January, overall violence “has increased in most provinces,” and “civilian casualties rose slightly, to more than 100 a day.”
Today, however, the President attempted to dismiss the report’s conclusions, saying that it is still “too early to judge the results of this new strategy” by repeating the myth that U.S. forces “haven’t even started the full surge yet“:
It is too early to judge the results of this new strategy. General Petraeus recently put it this way: “We haven’t even started the full surge yet.” He just got his troops on the ground. Only at the end of this week will the last of the five reinforcement brigades become fully operational.
It is not “too early to judge” the results of the President’s escalation in Iraq. As the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained nearly six months ago at the start of the escalation plan, “we’ll have pretty good early indications of their performance” before “very many American soldiers have been sent to Iraq”:
Well, as I indicated, we’re going to know pretty early on whether the Iraqis are meeting their military commitments, in terms of being able to go into all neighborhoods, in terms of the Iraqis being in the lead and carrying out the leadership and the fighting, and for there not to be political interference in the military operations that are going forward.
As I say, this is going to unfold over a period of time, and so I think that as I indicated in my remarks, before very many American soldiers have been sent to Iraq, we’ll have pretty good early indications of their performance. We’ll have to see, in terms of the length of time. It’s really hard to say at this point. It’s viewed as a temporary surge.