The immediate goal of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq was to bring down sectarian violence, restore basic security to Iraqi communities, and drive the terrorists out of safe havens. According to recent Congressional testimony by U.S. General David Petraeus, American and Iraqi forces have made significant progress in all these areas.
"Improvements in security," said President George W. Bush, "have helped clear the way for political and economic developments":
"At the local level businesses are re-opening and provincial councils are meeting. At the national level, there's much work ahead but the Iraqi government has passed a budget and three major 'benchmark' laws. The national government is sharing oil revenues with the provinces. And many economic indicators in Iraq – from oil production to inflation – are now pointed in the right direction."
Due to growing oil revenues, Iraqis are now able to pay the majority of their reconstruction and security costs. "Ultimately," said President Bush, "we expect Iraq to shoulder the full burden of these costs. In the period ahead," he said, "Iraq's economy will increasingly move away from American assistance, rely on private investment, and stand on its own."
On the political front, Iraqi tribes and other groups in the provinces are now rebuilding local political structures. Progress in the provinces is leading to progress in Baghdad, as Iraqi leaders increasingly work together. Moreover, upcoming provincial elections will provide a way for Iraqis to settle disputes through the political process instead of through violence.
"All our efforts," said President Bush, "are aimed at a clear goal; a free Iraq that can protect its people, support itself economically, and take charge of its own political affairs. No one wants to achieve this more than the Iraqis themselves," said Mr. Bush. But the Iraqis know they still need American help. "Our job in the period ahead," said President Bush, "is to stand with the Iraqi government as it makes tough choices and makes the transition to responsibility for its own security and its own destiny."