Senate Democrats

Facts on the Ground Show the Escalation Is Still Not Working

President Bush and his allies have trumpeted reductions in violence in Iraq and claiming that the escalation strategy is working. But by the President’s own measures it is not. The political solution the escalation was meant to produce is still not at hand. Violence levels remain too high, and are not notably improved from levels two years ago. Sectarian violence is down, but largely because many neighborhoods in Iraq have been ethnically cleansed, resulting in millions of displaced Iraqis, and ethnic tensions continue to simmer just beneath the surface. General Petraeus himself has said that Iraq must have a political solution. Our troops have done tremendous work in achieving tactical victories on the ground, but Iraq’s leaders have failed to stand up and take responsibility for their country. It is time to the change the course, refocus the mission and begin to bring our troops home. 

 Violence in Iraq continues to remain very high:

2007 Has Been Deadliest Year Yet for U.S. Troops in Iraq. “The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for U.S. troops, according to an Associated Press count…At least 852 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to AP figures. Some 850 troops died in 2004.” [Associated Press, 11/6/07]

Number of Iraqis Killed in October 2007 Still Above Number Killed in 2005. The Iraq Index provides different sources for Iraqi civilian deaths by month for different time periods. The Iraq Index provides data from the Department of Defense that 800 Iraqis were killed in October 2007. The Iraq Index also provides data from Iraq Body Count that 560 Iraqis were killed in October 2005. [Brookings Institute Iraq Index, 11/12/07

Number of Enemy-Initiated Attacks Is at Level Similar to October 2005. According to statistics compiled by the GAO, enemy-initiated attacks in September of 2007 numbered approximately 3,000. This level is approximately the same as the level of attacks in October 2005. [GAO Report, 10/30/07]

Number of Multiple Fatality Bombings Is Also at Level Similar to October 2005. According to statistics compiled by the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index, multiple fatality bombings in October 2007 numbered 34. In October 2005, the number of multiple fatality bombings was 39. [Brookings Institute Iraq Index, 11/12/07]

Reductions in violence are linked to ethnic cleansing, and ethnic tensions continue to summer:

GAO Division Director Testified That Reduction in Violence in Iraq Is Largely Due to the Ethnic Cleansing That Has Already Occurred Throughout the Country. In testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, the Director of International and Trade Division, Joe Christoff, testified, “I’m not going to answer that one, but I can talk a little bit about ethnic cleansing, because I think that’s an important consideration in even assessing the overall security situation in Iraq. You know, we look at the attack data going down, but it’s not taking into consideration the fact that there might be fewer attacks because you have ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, particularly in the Baghdad area.” [Hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operation and Related Programs, 10/30/07]

  • Number of Internally Displaced Iraqis Has Risen to 2.3 Million. “Iraq’s displaced population has grown to 2.3 million people, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said Monday on the heels of a warning by another humanitarian aid group that border tensions are exacerbating the plight of those who fled north to escape sectarian violence. The Red Crescent report says an additional 67,000 families left their homes in September, continuing a pattern that has multiplied the number of displaced people more than fivefold this year.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/6/07]
  • U.N. Estimates Additional 2 Million Iraqis Have Left the Country Since War Began. “More than 4 million Iraqis have now been displaced by violence in the country, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday, warning that the figure will continue to rise. The number of Iraqis who have fled the country as refugees has risen to 2.2 million, said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. A further 2 million have been driven from their homes but remain within the country, increasingly in ‘impoverished shanty towns,’ she said.” [Associated Press, 6/5/07]

U.S. Military’s Alliances With Sunnis Has Made Shiites Nervous, May Have Only Put Off Ethnic Attacks. “The U.S. military approach in Iraq this year has focused on striking deals with Sunni insurgents, under which they stop fighting the Americans and instead protect their own neighborhoods. So far about 70,000 such volunteers have been enrolled — a trend that makes the Shiite-led central government nervous, especially as the movement gets closer to Baghdad… The Army officer who requested anonymity said that if the Iraqi government doesn’t reach out, then for former Sunni insurgents ‘it’s game on — they’re back to attacking again.’ The year-long progress in fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq could carry a downside. Maj. Mark Brady, who works on reconciliation issues, noted that a Sunni leader told him: ‘As soon as we finish with al-Qaeda, we start with the Shiite extremists.’” [Washington Post, 11/15/07]

President Bush said the goal of the escalation strategy was to create national reconciliation:

President Bush Said Goal of the Escalation Was Aimed At Creating Political Reconciliation. “The strategy I announced in January is designed to seize the initiative and create those conditions. It’s aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq’s political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability.” [President Bush Press Conference, 7/12/07]

General David Petraeus Said There Is No Military Solution in Iraq, There Must Be a Political Solution. “And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient. A political resolution of various differences, of this legislation, of various senses that people do not have a stake in the success of the new Iraq, and so forth, that is crucial.  That is what will determine in the long run the success of this effort.” [Multi-National Force – Iraq, Press Briefing, 3/8/07

But Iraqi political leaders have still not brought about national reconciliation:

General Petraeus Acknowledged Escalation Had Not Brought About Political Reconciliation. In a letter to his troops, General Petraeus wrote, “One of the justifications of the surge, after all, was that it would help create the space for Iraqi leaders to tackle the tough questions and agree on key pieces of national reconciliation legislation,” he wrote. “It has not worked out as we had hoped.” [CQ, 9/7/07]

Military Commanders in Iraq Are Increasingly Worried that Iraqi Political Leaders Have Failed to Foster Political Reconciliation. “Senior military commanders here now portray the intransigence of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias. In more than a dozen interviews, U.S. military officials expressed growing concern over the Iraqi government’s failure to capitalize on sharp declines in attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. A window of opportunity has opened for the government to reach out to its former foes, said Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq, but ‘it’s unclear how long that window is going to be open.’” [Washington Post, 11/15/07]

GAO Reports Iraqis Still Have Met Just 1 Legislative Benchmark Intended to Promote National Reconciliation. “The Iraqi government continues to make limited progress in meeting eight legislative benchmarks intended to promote national reconciliation.1 As of October 25, 2007, the Iraqi government had met one legislative benchmark and partially met another.” [GAO Report, 10/30/07]

Ministries Continue to Be Used By Sectarian Factions to Build Power and Provide Patronage.  “Although State and Multinational Force-Iraq report progress in promoting reconciliation at local levels such as Anbar province, at the national level, sectarian factions within the Iraqi government ministries continue to undermine reconciliation efforts. For example, ministries within the Iraqi government continued to be controlled by sectarian factions and are used to maintain power and provide patronage to individuals and groups.” [GAO Report, 10/30/07]

Unity Pact Signed in August 2007 Has Not Yet Resulted in Passage of Legislation Covered by the Agreement. “In late August 2007, Iraq’s senior Shi’a and Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders signed a unity accord signaling efforts to foster greater national reconciliation. The accord covered draft legislation on de-Ba’athification reform and provincial powers laws, and established a mechanism to release some Sunni detainees being held without charges. However, these laws have not been passed as of October 25, 2007.” [GAO Report, 10/30/07]

Iraq security forces have not done their part yet either:

President Bush Said Iraqis Would Take Responsibility for Security in All of Iraq’s Provinces by November. In his January speech announcing the escalations strategy, President Bush said, “To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • …But President Bush Admitted That As of November, Iraqis Were Responsible for Security in Just 8 of 18 Provinces. “With Karbala Province moving to Iraqi control this week, Mr. Bush said Iraqis were now responsible for security in 8 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.” [New York Times, 11/3/07]

GAO Reports Just 10 of 140 Iraqi Army and National Police Units Are Operating Indepdently as of September 2007. “Iraqi security forces have grown in size and are increasingly leading counterinsurgency operations. However, only about 10 of 140 Iraqi army, national police, and special operations forces are operating independently as of September 2007. [GAO Report, 10/30/07]

And American funds invested in reconstruction efforts have not produced results:

Despite More Than $100 Billion Spent on Iraqi Reconstruction, Progress Is Still Well Below What U.S. Had Hoped for in Areas Like Electricity Production and Training of Iraqi Security Forces. “More than $100 billion has been devoted to rebuilding Iraq, mainly thanks to American taxpayers and Iraqi oil revenues, but nearly five years into the conflict, output in critical areas like water and electricity remain below United States goals, federal oversight officials reported to Congress on Tuesday… Among the major expenditures on the American side is what the accountability office estimates to be $19 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces and $7 billion to rehabilitate the country’s oil and electricity sectors. Even so, despite endless American press releases on Iraqi forces taking over responsibility for parts of the country, the office estimates that just 10 of 140 Iraqi Army, national police and special operations units were in fact operating independently as of September.” [New York Times, 10/31/07]