PZN: "...wreaked by violence and defined by bloodshed."

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Length: 3:29

PAULA ZAHN: Our next stop is Iraq, where questions about the troop surge and whether or not it's working are matters of life and death every day, including today, when another US service member died in a mortar attack on Baghdad's Green Zone.

Just a short while ago, our Michael Ware joined me from Baghdad.


ZAHN: So, Michael, as you are well aware, this report apparently says that the Iraqi government has missed some major benchmarks, but some progress is being made.

What do you see on the ground from there?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of the sectarian violence and the attacks on coalition and Iraqi security forces, they certainly continue with a pace.

Have they been dampened to any degree here in the capital, Baghdad, alone? Perhaps. Nonetheless, the body counts keep rising -- more than 500 executed bodies found on the streets of Baghdad alone. That's just one form of the violence. And, across the country, so far, we are seeing on average three Americans being killed every day here.

So, there may be some marginal impacts, and there may be some improvements in some areas, but, by and large, no, this is still wreaked by violence and defined by bloodshed -- Paula.

ZAHN: The president, nevertheless, today fiercely defending the war, saying it is winnable, and telling those who are criticizing this stage of the campaign to wait until September, until another report comes out. What could possibly change between now and September?

WARE: Well, to be honest, not a great deal.

Nonetheless, that time, certainly from the military perspective, must be given. I mean, let's be fair to the commanders here who are governing and guiding this war. Their new strategy has only just been put in place. Yes, they have been building up to it, as the 30,000-odd extra troops they needed have arrived. But it's only been a matter of weeks that they have all been in place.

Now, what great impact they're going to have, honestly, it's easy to be skeptical about that. Nonetheless, they at least deserve the chance to be given a few months before anyone makes any cataclysmic decisions about the progress of the war.

ZAHN: Of course, administration watching very carefully what Senator John McCain is saying -- he, of course, just back from a trip from Iraq. And he says he thinks this troop surge will eventually work.

What evidence have you seen of that?

WARE: Well, to be honest, not a great deal.

I wish I had Senator McCain's optimism. However, unfortunately, I don't. Like we said, you know, among the indicators of violence, the different measures that the coalition uses to take the tempo of the war, they are being kept close to the chest of the generals. They don't want to reveal what they're using as the litmus for the success of the mission right now, because they don't want the enemy -- al Qaeda, the nationalist insurgents and the Iranian-backed militias -- to go out there and purposely attack these indicators, and skew the figures to distort them.

However, we're already seeing that going on, as the second-most powerful American general in the country said, our enemies are surging even as we are.

ZAHN: Michael Ware, got to leave it there tonight. Thanks so much for the update. Appreciate it.