AC: " 'Just get America out of the way and let us loose.' "
ANDERSON COOPER: Beyond the politics, let's look at the facts on the ground, as they are now.
In Baghdad tonight, "Keeping Them Honest" for us is CNN's Michael Ware.
Michael, thanks for joining us.
Some of the benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to meet -- we're talking about revising the constitution to encourage more Sunni political participation, guaranteeing all groups a share of oil revenue, lessening restrictions on Baath Party members, local elections -- none of these have been met, according to this new Pentagon report, according to the A.P.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because, to be honest, it's not really in the interests of the main power players here in Iraq to meet them.
These are American agendas, American benchmarks. These aren't the benchmarks that the factions within the Iraqi government really care about. What they care about is getting their hands on their own security forces and setting them loose as they see fit.
And, don't forget, a lot of these benchmarks strike at the deepest, most heartfelt divisions politically and in terms of the sectarian divide that exist in this country. None of them are easy fixes. And in none of them is it really in the interests of those who hold power to meet them. They just want to keep their power -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, essentially, you're saying they don't see themselves as part of a larger Iraq. They don't see themselves as a ruling of all the people of Iraq, as we think about a democracy. They still see themselves as factions, and they are trying to hold on to turf and power.
WARE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the concept of a national unity government, as the Bush administration calls this thing that they describe as the Iraqi government, is laughed at, even by some of the senior members of this government itself.
And, speaking to a few of them on the weekend, it was very clear that their interests were to protect their population. The other populations, well, they can look after themselves. "But I can tell you," they say, "we're ready. We're ready if U.S. troops pull out. We're not worried about al Qaeda. That's going to be somebody else's problem. Just get America out of the way and let us loose."
COOPER: Well, the so-called surge, or troop escalation, was supposed to provide time and security for political changes. Politically, it may not be working, according to this report. How is it working militarily on the ground?
WARE: Well, General David Petraeus, the American war commander here in Iraq, is keeping the figures close to his chest. Obviously, he doesn't want to detail what numbers he's looking at to gauge his assessment, because he doesn't want the insurgents and he doesn't want the Iranian-backed militia skewing these figures, which, clearly, they are.
But, to be honest, it's having limited impact here on the ground. I mean, almost 600 tortured and executed bodies were found on the streets of Baghdad last month alone. This year, 605 U.S. soldiers have been killed already. This month, we have already seen 30 U.S. troops killed from one cause or another.
That's just over three U.S. soldiers dying every day here in Iraq. So, is the surge dampening violence? No. It's pushing it here, it's pushing it there. Is it buying the time that the government was supposed to need politically to breathe? No, not at all.
COOPER: And, very briefly, there was this operation in Baquba, U.S. forces in the lead. They called up some 11,000 Iraqi troops for backup to prevent terrorists from escaping, and insurgents from escaping. Only 1,500 or so Iraqi troops showed up. What is the problem with the Iraqi forces?
WARE: Look, Anderson, this is an age-old problem that's plagued the U.S. effort here since it began, having not only capable Iraqi forces, but getting them to actually show up when and where you need them.
From the Battle of Fallujah, to all sorts of major incidents, we have seen so many just abandon their posts or fail to appear. One of the big reasons for that is that most of these forces are essentially militias in uniform. They are interested in their own interests and their own areas. These troops don't like to go somewhere else to fight. And that's what we're seeing. They are just not interested in it.
COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest" in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- thanks, Michael.