The State Of The Surge

In his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's prime minister told CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan on Tuesday that the additional forces have prevented an even greater catastrophe in Iraq.

"If the Baghdad security plan had not been implemented, we would have a true civil war in Iraq," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

But Iraqis on the streets of Baghdad say security is worse. Murders went down, but they are coming up back up again. There are still bombs every day. What's al-Maliki's sense of the quality of life to Iraqi people?

"There are great shortages in Baghdad because it's the capital and it faces the greatest terrorist threat," he told Logan.

Despite this month's deadly toll on U.S. forces, Maliki said there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. Although he cautioned it was too soon to do a complete evaluation of the surge, he has great hopes for more progress in the next two or three months — just in time for America's top commander here to report to Congress.

Meanwhile, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that all the troops for the surge are now in Iraq and U.S. military officers say American casualties are likely to go still higher when operations hit full throttle next month.

Compounding that grim forecast, Stephen Biddle, an adviser to the American commander in Iraq, says the odds for success are long.

"If I had to put a number to it, maybe it's a 1-in-10, maybe it's a 1-in-5 long shot if we play our cards right. There's no question that this is likelier to fail than succeed as this point," Biddle said.


In an effort to wipe out insurgent strongholds, U.S. troops will be moving into parts of Baghdad and the surrounding countryside, where they have never been before. But even with the surge, former Marine Bing West says there aren't enough troops to chase insurgents all over Iraq.

"These insurgents move 60 to 100 kilometers in a night, and all of Iraq is so flat, has such terrific highways, that you can scoot very quickly from place to place," said West.

According to Biddle, success depends on coercing insurgent factions into accepting a cease-fire.

"One hundred and sixty thousand troops is not enough to secure the whole country, but it's a powerful source of sticks and carrots if we start using it selectively to reward those who will cooperate and consider cease-fires and to punish those who won't," Biddle says.

There are cease-fire negotiations going on with insurgents. But for now, one military officer said: "they're out to kill us, and we're out to kill them."

  • Christine Lagorio

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