AAM: "The conditions on the ground...do justify some pulling out of US troops"
Michael is still in NY and speaks with Kiran Chetry about the troop draw-down to be announced today.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And now, here to offer his perspective on this drawdown plan is CNN's Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware. Thanks for being with us. So we heard what Barbara Starr is telling us about this drawdown of troops. Partially political?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think so. I mean, the tone certainly suits. Is it coincidence or is it by design? It's difficult to say.
One thing is clear, though. The conditions on the ground, which was always to be the prerequisite for a drawdown, do justify some pulling out of U.S. troops. I mean, let's look at it.
But all the measures that the U.S. military uses, violence is down by between 40 to 80 percent. Civilians who are dying at 4,000 a month 18 months ago are now dying at 500 a month. U.S. troops in the last May, 126 were killed. This May, 19.
So, the violence has come down. So, there is an argument that, yes, you can start freeing up troops. But as we keep saying, what no one is looking at is what's the price for that success.
CHETRY: And what you've talked about every time you're here...
CHETRY: ... is the growing Iranian influence and that once the U.S. troops leave, somebody is going to fill that vacuum and void. Who will it be? Chances are possibly Iran.
Is there any way to head that off? Meaning that, are we just delaying the inevitable by not having -- by keeping U.S. troops there?
WARE: In a sense, yes, it is delaying of the inevitable. Although, however, I believe with the ongoing presence of the U.S. troops will increasingly become, it's not so much a force to keep violence down, a force to strike al-Qaeda. It's going to be a force to try and consolidate the Sunni's position, to protect that Sunni interest, which is so important to America's Arab allies.
Listen, by this point, Pentagon strategists, the White House, the mission on the ground from the embassy have all conceded in one way or another that Iran has the upper hand, politically and certainly in terms of their militias and paramilitaries. So it's like given that people have come to that realization, now it's making the best of a worse situation.
CHETRY: That's one of the things that Bob Woodward talks about in his new book that he wrote, revising what winning means and what success is in Iraq, and something we'll be talking about with you over the coming days.
Thanks for being with us, Michael.
WARE: Great pleasure.