AC: "It's just not in their interests to see the situation settle down."

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Length: 6:35

ANDERSON COOPER: The war in Iraq, which, as you will see in a moment, is costing us all $10 billion a month, $10 billion. CNN has learned that the Pentagon's report card on Iraq will arrive Thursday on Capitol Hill. We now expect it will say that, out of 18 political and military benchmarks, the Baghdad government has met only one, one out of 18.

Despite that, President Bush today stood behind the troop surge and the top American commander, General David Petraeus.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We just started. He got all the troops there a couple of weeks ago. He asked for, you know, 20,000 something troops, and I said, "If that's what you need, Commander, that's what you got." And they just showed up. And they're now beginning -- beginning operations in full. And in Washington, you have got people saying, "stop."

But I believe that it's in this nation's interests to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations, and I believe Congress ought to wait for General Petraeus to come back and give his assessment of the strategy that he's putting in place before they make any decisions.


COOPER: And that would be September.

A reality check now from CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad and Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Jamie, of the 18 benchmarks, which is seen as the most important one?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think it's clear that one benchmark is the -- stands out among all of them. And that is reducing the level of violence. And, by the way, it's a benchmark that clearly hasn't been met. The level of violence in recent months has been pretty much the same as was before the surge. There have been periods where certain areas go up and down, sectarian violence or attacks on civilians.

But, when you measure it overall, the level of violence is just as bad as it has been for the past year.

COOPER: And, Michael, the whole idea of reducing the level of violence is to allow for a political system, a political solution, to form among Iraqi politicians. Is that any closer to actually happening? I mean, are these guys highly motivated?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, in fact, quite the opposite, Anderson.

There's many of -- or some of the very key political factions, some of the major power brokers within this so-called government, don't share this American agenda. For some of them, it's just not in their interests to see the situation settle down, as D.C. would like to see.

So, no, this is not something that can be done certainly before September. The concept of the surge being an opportunity to give this government breathing room to achieve some of the political gains that D.C. is insisting upon, whilst noble, is not going to happen.

COOPER: Jamie, what's the thinking at the Pentagon about why the Iraqi forces don't seem ready to take over the security of their own country? I mean, obviously, that is one of the benchmarks, trying to get -- increasing the number of Iraqi security forces, but are they just not motivated?

Why -- why -- I mean, this has been allegedly priority number one for the last four or five years.

MCINTYRE: Yes, we have certainly heard that.

And the U.S. has spent $19 billion trying to get the Iraqis up to speed, and we still hear from commanders in the field that the reason the so-called surge force can't leave is that the Iraqis still aren't able to operate independently. And that was the other key part of the strategy that President Bush laid out back in January, that the U.S. wasn't going to be doing the heavy lifting. It was going to be helping the Iraqis.

But, in fact, the U.S. is doing the heavy lifting. And the problem with the Iraqis is, they're infiltrated in some cases, by sectarian militias. There's a loyalty question. There's equipment problems. There's leadership problems, getting really good Iraqi leaders.

The bottom line, though, is, the Iraqi army and police are just not ready to step up to the job. And that's another reason the policy's not working so far.

COOPER: Michael Ware, though, it seems like the insurgents don't have a problem with training or with motivation or with, you know -- basically motivation.

Why is it that, of all the forces, the Iraqi forces, the ones which seem unable to operate are the ones that are actually in the military, whereas the insurgents seem more than capable of operating?

WARE: Well, you touch upon something that's obviously important. That's the matter of commitment.

Now, clearly, anyone who takes up arms within the insurgency, and who stays with it, is as you say, a very committed individual. However, in the Iraqi security forces, there's hundreds of thousands of men at arms now in the police and in the army. Obviously, most of them are simply doing it for a pay packet, because unemployment here is appalling, and people need to make do.

Obviously, there are Iraqis who are motivated by a belief in or a hope for a better future. Nonetheless, the Iraqi security forces remain, indisputably, a coalition of militia forces in uniform, as opposed to their militia buddies, who are out of uniform. So, it's very hard to get all of those guys pulling in the same direction, when many of their interests directly conflict with each other and the American mission.

COOPER: Michael, I want to play something that Senator Lieberman said about the war in Iraq. Let's listen.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: The war is not lost in Iraq. In fact, now American and Iraqi security forces are winning. The enemy is on the run in Iraq. But, here in Congress, in Washington, we seem to be, or some members seem to be on the run, chased, I fear, by public opinion polls.


COOPER: Is the enemy on the run in Iraq, Michael?

WARE: No, certainly not.

And I think we need to be aware that it's enemies. I mean, America doesn't face just one opponent in this country, but a whole multitude, many of whom are becoming stronger, the longer the U.S. occupation here, or presence here, in Iraq continues. So, unfortunately, I'm afraid that Senator Lieberman has taken an excursion into fantasy.

Now, I know, elsewhere, that Senator Lieberman told the Senate or reminded the Senate of its greater responsibility to rise above its frustrations and the opinion polls. Now, never a truer word has been said. That's, indeed, what America needs right now, some political maturity.

But -- but that message was diluted by this fantastic notion...

COOPER: Michael Ware...

WARE: ... that America is winning.

COOPER: Michael Ware, appreciate the reporting in Baghdad.

Jamie McIntyre, at the Pentagon, thank you very much.