Retired Military Leaders and Experts on the Iraq War

Tomorrow, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will testify before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees about the current situation in Iraq.

Below are recent quotes from retired generals and military experts about the war.

General William Odom (Retired)

“The surge is prolonging instability, not creating the conditions for unity, as the President claims…Violence has been temporarily reduced, but today there is credible evidence — little or no evidence that the political situation is improving. In fact, it’s the contrary. It’s more fragmented. And currently we see the surge of violence in Basra and also in Baghdad.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 4/2/08]

General Barry McCaffrey (Retired)

“It’s a hell of a mess. I mean, you know, there’s just no way about it. It’s a $600 billion war, 34,000 killed and wounded. We’ve alienated most of the global population. The American people don’t support the war. And there we are. And the Iraqi government’s dysfunctional. The Iraqi security forces are inadequate, ill-equipped, and we’ve got very little time — by the way, I’m not recommending we come out of Iraq in a year or three. That’s what going to happen. This thing’s over.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 4/2/08]

Lieutenant General Robert Gard (Retired)

“Iraq is more bitterly divided among ethnic and sectarian lines than it was before the surge began.” [Bloomberg, 4/7/08]

Major General Paul Eaton (Retired)

“We continue to fail to properly resource and build the very force that will enable a responsible drawdown of our forces.” [AP, 3/29/08]

Andrew Bacevich, Professor, Boston University

“The United States today finds itself with too much war for too few warriors. With the 'surge' now giving way to a 'pause,' the Iraq war has become an open-ended enterprise. American combat operations in Iraq could easily drag on for 10 more years, and a large-scale military presence might be required for decades, which may well break the Army while bankrupting the country. The pretense that there is a near-term solution to Iraq has become a pretext for ignoring the long-term disparity between military commitments and military capacity.” [New York Times, 4/8/08]

Michele Flournoy, Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies

“The Maliki government appears largely unwilling or unable to take advantage of the space created by the improved security and actually move toward political accommodation, provide for the basic needs of the Iraqi people and lay the foundation for stability and its own legitimacy.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 4/2/08]

Nir Rosen, Fellow, Center on Law & Security, New York University

“Iraq doesn’t exist today. It has no government. It’s under control of warlords, as I said. And events in the Green Zone have never mattered and still don’t matter. It’s always been a theater. The people who control power in Iraq, the militia leaders, have never inhabited the Green Zone. And therefore focusing on laws passed in the Green Zone, on political deals made in the Green Zone, or the international zone, is a distraction, and a dangerous one.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 4/2/08]

Yahia Said, Director, Middle East and North Africa, Revenue Watch Institute

“The reduction in violence is leading those who are in power, who have controlled the government in Baghdad for the last five years, to seek to entrench themselves in power, to preempt any challenges to their power.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 4/2/08]

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