Our Opinions On Iraq Strategy Don't Matter

Gen. David Petraeus speak during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

As I listened to the debate over Iraq policy last week, what struck me was how people could look at the same situation and come to such opposite conclusions about what they saw - let alone what to do about it.

Think about it. General Petraeus told us the administration policy has led to some success in Iraq. Critics said it has led to total failure.

The general said violence is down in Iraq. Critics challenged his figures and said violence is up.

The general and the president said it is the success we have had that has made it possible to bring home some of our troops. Critics said success had nothing to do with it; we simply don't have an army large enough to keep the current number of troops in Iraq past April.

The president said being in Iraq has made us safer. Critics said it's made us weaker.

General Petraeus said he did not to know.

The administration says Iraq will require a long term American military commitment. The critics say the president is just making an excuse to justify the 100,000 American troops that will still be in Iraq when the next president takes office.

To my ear, the only thing the two sides agreed on was that the internal factions in the Iraqi government are still a long way from working out a way to share power and make the compromises necessary to form a stable, efficient government.

The discouraging thing is that until the Iraqis resolve that who's right or wrong about the rest of it doesn't really matter

Not at all.

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By Bob Schieffer
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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.