Petraeus Admits Troop Surge Was a Risk

Gen. Petraeus says surge was risky, but Iraq has come "a long, long way."

ByABC News
July 28, 2008, 12:58 PM

July 28, 2008— -- U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus recognized that the troop surge in Iraq was a risk, and that when he arrived in Iraq 18 months ago, he was "still afflicted by some doubt" about whether it was the right strategy to turn around the war.

"I think you're always doing that in any endeavor that you do," Petraeus told ABC News' Terry McCarthy. "There are no sure things in life."

Success of the Surge

When Petraeus initiated the surge 18 months ago, many believed that his strategy would fail. Overall, violence has plunged in Iraq, and the last of the combat brigades from the surge returned home this month.

But, with four suicide car bombings, apparently all carried out by women in Baghdad and in the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday, Petraeus acknowledged the "very difficult and very diabolical and murderous threat" posed by al Qaeda, and, especially, by female bombers.

"There will be further attacks," Petraeus said. "It is very, very difficult in this culture, because only a female can search another female. Again, there are just multiple points through which females can gain access to the column of people."

Last week, Petraeus met with one of his strongest critics in Congress, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who opposed the surge and supports a 16-month timetable for withdrawal.

Obama told ABC News' Terry Moran in an exclusive "Nightline" interview that in his meeting with Petraeus, the general discussed his "deep concerns" about "a timetable that doesn't take into account what they anticipate might be a change in conditions."

Petraeus declined to comment about his meeting with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, beyond saying that in their private talks, Obama conceded that progress had been made in Iraq.

"We felt we had good exchanges, we felt we were able to describe what has taken place over the last 18 months," Petraeus said.