Petraeus Will ‘Let Historians Decide’ What Would've Happened Had US Withdrawn from Iraq

By Nicholas Ballasy | October 8, 2008 | 6:53 PM EDT

( - Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, told that he will “let historians decide” what would have happened had the U.S. terminated the surge and withdrawn its troops from Iraq in the past year as some had suggested.

In September 2007, Petraeus testified in Congress that the surge was working and that progress was taking place in Iraq.  At the time, some members of Congress, including Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), criticized his analysis. Obama called for the bulk of U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in six months' time.

Petraeus spoke Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). asked him what he thought would have happened in Iraq had U.S. troops withdrawn from that country as some suggested.

“We’ll let historians examine the question that you posed, and we’ll keep devoting our energy to looking out,” Petraeus told He also spoke about the ongoing success of the U.S. military in Iraq.
“What I’ve tried to do all along here in this endeavor is take the rear view mirrors off the bus--and we have always tried to look forward, and that’s where we are right now as well,” he said.
“As you know, with respect to Iraq, there has been clearly significant progress over the course of the last year--or more that has enabled us not only to send home the surge forces, but to recommend the reduction of another 8,000 forces by the end of January, early February. That has actually been approved, and we’re beginning that process now," Petraeus added.

He also said there are many areas in Iraq where the U.S. plans to hand over full control to the Iraqi Security Forces this month.

“Two more provinces will be transitioned this month, we believe--for example, Wasit province and Babil province,” said Petraeus.
“So, there’s a constant looking forward, a constant assessment of where there is further progress that enables us to transition greater responsibility to Iraq--to a government that is understandably very keen to be the sovereign government of a sovereign country. That’s something we applaud,” he added.