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Petraeus Report: Assessing the SurgeCommentary, 11 September 2007
On Monday 10 September General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker presented an upbeat report on the 'Surge policy' promulgated earlier this year. RUSI's experts give their initial reaction and RUSI.org offers background information to the conflict and to policy.
Petraeus and Crocker at RUSI
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker spoke at RUSI on Tuesday 18 September at an event chaired by RUSI Director Professor Michael Clarke.
Why Britain will not be enthusiastic about doing more in Iraq
By Professor Michael Clarke, Director, Royal United Services Institute
For British leaders Iran may seem like a basket case at present, but it has to be handled politically not militarily. Read the article >
Initial reaction from RUSI Experts
Petraeus Report will emerge as a footnote to the inevitable
Michael Clarke, Director, Royal United Services Institute
The most politically acute military officers are normally those who claim to be no more than "simple soldiers". General Petraeus knows that for all the statistics of his "uneven but quantifiable" progress, for all the military judgments he makes, his report is all part of an overheated domestic political row in the US.
He is buying time for the Bush administration, using his four-star status to hold off the Democrats and an increasing section of the public from boxing the president into a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq.
If President Bush can get through 2008 with more "uneven but quantifiable" progress, then he can leave the withdrawal to his successor.
The Petraeus report is billed as a landmark in the debate over Iraq, but in truth it will probably emerge as a footnote to the inevitable. Most of these long-term counter-insurgency operations end when the intervening power declares victory and leaves. What is now at stake is not that process - that is a foregone conclusion which cannot now be long delayed - but rather the conviction with which the US can declare victory as it departs.
This appeared in the Guardian, Tuesday 11 September >
Conditions are not right for wholesale withdrawal
It is a feature of complex emergencies that foreign intervention forces engaged in proactive security measures are likely in the course of time to be increasingly vilified in popular perception particularly if forces from the same nations were part of the original occupation. That popularity can be managed and General Petraeus is working towards ‘overwatch’ where the troops are off the streets but ready to back up Iraqi security forces if the situation gets out of hand. British forces in Basra Province have already made this shift.
QUIZ RUSI DIRECTOR ON FT.COM
Iraq – has the surge of US troops worked?
Has the surge of US troops into Iraq worked? Has security improved enough for the Iraqi government and security forces to increase their effectiveness? Or have the insurgents simply moved to new locations? Most of all, can the US - and British - troops now begin to leave?
It is a critical time for those nations’ policy on Iraq, and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is set to give evidence to US Congress next Monday and Tuesday.
Professor Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, will answer FT.com readers’ questions in a live debate on Tuesday September 11 between 2pm and 3pm BST.