This article is about the fall 2007 final report. For the earlier interim report made in summer 2007, see Initial Benchmark Assessment Report.
The Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq (sometimes referred to as the Petraeus Report) was a two-part report released on Sept 10, 2007 by General of the Multinational force in Iraq David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on progress by the Iraqi government in the ongoing Iraq War. While Petraeus discussed military progress in Iraq, Ambassador Crocker discussed political progress. Both officials declared that progress had been made in their respective fields, but also stated that much still needed to be done in Iraq. Petraeus recommended a timetable of withdrawal for United States forces in Iraq in which the over 20,000 troops added in the surge would be brought back by July 2008. In January 2008, Petraeus stated that the reduction of forces may be done later than previously expected. He will issue another report to Congress in March or early April 2008.
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos of California called the General and the Ambassador "Two of our nation's most capable public servants" and said Democrats feel "esteem for their professionalism." He also said "We can no longer take their assertions on Iraq at face value"; concluding, "We need to get out of Iraq, for that country's sake as well as our own." Republican Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter called the report "a candid, independent assessment given with integrity". Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona stated that "I commend General Petraeus for his honest and forthright assessment of the situation in Iraq. Anti-war Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska criticized the report while praising Petraeus, saying "It's not your fault, general... It's not Ambassador Crocker's fault. It's this administration's fault.
Petraeus has stated that his recommendations are not dependent on the Iraqi government's ability to meet the benchmarks. President Bush held a televised address on September 13 in which he discussed the recommendations. The non-partisan FactCheck.org criticized some of his comments, saying the President had "played loose with the facts".
Council of Foreign Relations consulting editor Bernard Gwertzman stated that, during his testimony, Ambassador Crocker "really couldn’t hold out the hope of any immediate breakthrough on a reconciliation front. He was, I thought, in State Department-ese as gloomy as you could be." Council President Richard N. Haass stated that "He [Crocker] was not holding out high prospects of reconciliation. He was basically saying that benchmarks hadn’t been met and were not likely to be met. This is part and parcel of a larger story. Fellow Charles Kupchan argued that "The central issue is whether the surge shows signs of providing sufficient security in Baghdad and elsewhere to promote political stability, sectarian reconciliation, and functioning state institutions. The answer is unequivocally, "no."" Fellow Stephen Biddle argued that "Monday’s testimony yielded a mixed picture".
Thomas Engelhardt wrote in left-liberal journal The Nation that "Numbers in Iraq are a slippery matter at best, though again, why anyone pays serious attention to US military numbers from that country is a mystery. On countless occasions in the past, these have been ridiculous undercounts of disaster. The Washington Post stated on September 25 that "Apparent contradictions are relatively easy to find in the flood of bar charts and trend lines the military produces. Civilian casualty numbers in the Pentagon's latest quarterly report on Iraq last week, for example, differ significantly from those presented by the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, in his recent congressional testimony." The story quoted a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesperson saying that "There is a current effort to consolidate multiple databases in theater".
Three other reports on the current situation in Iraq-- a General Accounting Office study, a National Intelligence Estimate, and an independent commission assessment by retired general James L. Jones-- were published for Congress around the same time as Petraeus' report. USA Today compared the four reports' findings. The New York Times also did so.
In December 2007, The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" stated that "While some of Petraeus's statistics are open to challenge, his claims about a general reduction in violence have been borne out over subsequent months. It now looks as if Petraeus was broadly right on this issue at least". Michael O'Hanlon and Jason H. Campbell of the non-partisan Brookings Institution stated in January 2008 that Iraq’s security environment had reached its best levels since early 2004 and credited Petraeus' strategy for the improvement. They considered Iraq's economy and political system to be "only marginally better than a year ago". Michael O'Hanlon stated that month that "Overall, Iraq's political system probably merits a grade of roughly C for its performance over the last 12 months." He also stated that "the pace of progress is finally picking up." US News and World Report stated that Iraq has experienced a "dramatic drop in violence and other signs of progress in recent months" and also stated that the "political divisions in Iraq remain deep, and if they are not bridged soon, civil war could well erupt again."
An early September CNN poll found that 53% did not believe the General's report would be "independent and objective"; an August USA Today poll stated the same thing. A mid-September Pew Research Center survey found that, of everyone who has heard of his report, 57% support his recommendations. The survey also stated that 32% of Americans have not heard of the report and that, overall, the President's address and Petraeus' report did not change minds about the surge. Another Pew Research Center survey found that 18% of Americans want to remove all troops immediately, 18% support a gradual withdrawal over the next two years, 39% support keeping troops in, and 7% feel unsure. A late-September ABC News poll asked about Petraeus' recommendations without mentioning him by name. The poll reported that 43% of Americans think the number of troops should be reduced "more quickly", 12% "more slowly", and 38% agree with the recommendations.
An early February 2008 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans believe the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake. The poll also found that 43% think that the troop increase is "making the situation there better".