AC: "They're just not sharing the same interests that America does on these issues."
ANDERSON COOPER: Six months into the troop buildup and nearly four-and-a-half years into the war, of the 18 benchmarks set for the Iraqi government, Baghdad gets passing grades on eight goals, a mixed grade on two, and eight unsatisfactories, mostly on the political side.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line is that this is a preliminary report.
I'm not making any excuses, but it is hard.
I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding our troops.
The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.
I'm guess I'm like any other political figure. Everybody wants to be loved. Just, sometimes, the decisions you make and the consequences don't enable you to be loved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was the president today.
Senator John Warner, an influential Republican on defense issues, say today he is not impressed by Iraqi progress, nor are other GOP colleagues now calling for a change in Iraq strategy, nor are Democrats in the House, who, as we mentioned at the top, passed a resolution calling for a troop pullout by April.
Meantime, of course, more bloodshed.
CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad, "Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, in a city where mortar fire hit today, killing at least 19 people.
Michael, this House vote to get most U.S. troops out of Iraq by April, largely symbolic. On the ground, does the notion of a pullout seem realistic? What does that mean?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no.
I mean, clearly, to the commanders I have been speaking to in the past couple of days, you know, what's happening in D.C. bears absolutely no relation to what's happening here on the ground. In fact, it was a rather gloomy mood just a couple of days ago, as I was meeting with some of these commanders.
They honestly couldn't believe that whilst they were still fighting the fight, whilst they were still hoping to gain some advantage finally on the battlefield, and hopefully with this Iraqi government -- no matter how distant that hope may be -- that the political rug could be pulled out from underneath them.
Now, physically, can you pull troops out by April of next year? Sure. You can pull anything out by April next year, but only if you're willing to pay the cost. I mean, it could be a bloodbath by Christmas. And it would be an ignominious withdrawal for the United States -- Anderson.
COOPER: On the political front -- because all of this upsurge in troops was all about trying to secure a political environment -- on the political front, progress on an oil law and de-Baathification of the government was given an unsatisfactory grade today.
We often that there's no military solution to the war; it needs to be political. Can this war be won without more progress from the Iraqi government themselves? I mean, these guys are about to go on vacation for three weeks, aren't they?
WARE: Yes, they are. The parliament is about to recess. Obviously, the government will stay in operation. But, to be honest, who cares about the three weeks? Even if parliament sits 24 hours a day for the next three weeks, they're not going to make much progress.
To be honest, you know, many of the power blocs in government don't want de-Baathification in three weeks, three months, or three years. They're in no great hurry to bring it about. I mean, they're just not sharing the same interests that America does on these issues. So, no, you do need a lot more from the Iraqi government.
But, to be frank, you're most likely not going to get it, or certainly not to fit the vision that D.C. has of what should be going on here on the ground -- Anderson.
COOPER: The benchmark for reducing the level of sectarian violence was given a satisfactory rating. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said -- quote -- "To say that there's not progress against al Qaeda in Iraq is an insult to those men and women who have brought about progress. It's a denial of their sacrifice."
From what you're seeing, from what you see when you go out with the troops, as you often do, what kind of progress has been made on that front?
WARE: Well, on the sectarian violence, it's -- you know, if you want to take the measure that there's fewer bodies tortured, executed showing up on the streets of the capital alone, then you can say, well, there's been some impact on sectarian violence.
But that's not looking at the countrywide. Across the country, particularly if you include the figures of U.S. or Iraqi security forces, the deaths remain much the same as they have been. So, in one particular indicator on the streets of Baghdad, oh, the numbers may be down. That doesn't mean the sectarian violence has really abated in any fashion.
And let's not forget, say here in Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of people have left in the past 12 months. So, there's fewer people to be caught in the middle. Neighborhoods themselves are much more homogeneous than they were. They have essentially been ethnically cleansed. So, now the neighborhoods are Sunni and are Shia.
And, also, don't forget, America is now allowing predominantly Sunni neighborhoods to maintain their own militias here in the capital and some of the provinces. That means the police death squads can't get to them. So, really, has the sectarian violence abated? Not exactly. And is that directly related to al Qaeda? No, because that ignores the fact that al Qaeda's not the only one involved in the sectarian violence.
What about this Iraqi government and its police death squads? What about the Iranian-backed militias? So, just looking at al Qaeda as an end to the sectarian violence is almost an insult to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of that violence so far.
COOPER: Michael Ware reporting for us from Baghdad -- Michael Ware, appreciate it. Stay safe, as always.