AC: State of the Union reaction

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WOLF BLITZER: Anderson, back to you.

ANDERSON COOPER: Wolf, the president says the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq but are we really? Joining us from New York for his point of view is Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for "Time" magazine.

Michael, in case some viewers did not see this piece, I just want to play something the president said about Iraq earlier tonight.


BUSH: The road to victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress from the ground and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels. But those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.


COOPER: Michael, you probably spend more time, have more contact with insurgents than anyone I've ever met. How do you think they read a statement like that and all the talk in Washington about reducing troop levels?

MICHAEL WARE, "TIME" BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Anderson, this is all clearly from the president, political gymnastics. Like a magician, he's attempting to create something out of nothing. It's very clear that U.S. policy on the ground in Iraq, is not winning, it's not creating a victory. The question is, can America get out of there with anything close to a semblance of success of any kind?

I mean, let's look at Iraq. He refers to an inclusive government. That simply does not exist, and is backed and owned now by a member of the axis of evil, Iran. Listening to commanders on the ground who have described to me the "big lie," that, "we can't really tell the truth of what's going on, we can't ask for the resources that we need for fear of betraying the true situation here in Iraq." And this is the policy born of "success" that has seen U.S. administrations now turning to the insurgents themselves, bringing back the Ba'ath party.

In this war, all we have seen is an emboldening of Al Qaeda, which has become stronger in so many ways, and an emboldening of Iran. And the spillover of democracy, we're starting to see that in Palestine, with the coming to power of the Hamas Islamic extremist government that we're seeing in Iraq itself, which has brought to power a pseudo-Islamic series of parties backed by Iran. And this is a success that the president wishes to build upon.

The "great lie" of his address is the success of Iraq. The great truth is that the only long-term way out is developing alternative energy strategies. And he talks about a battle of ideologies. Well, so far in that test of wills, that test of ideas, we're simply gaining no traction whatsoever.

COOPER: Sobering view on life on the ground. Michael Ware, thanks, from "Time" magazine.