It will take three to five years before Iraq's government is stable enough to operate on its own, according to the former commander of US forces in the Middle East, who said the surge of American forces has not succeeded in solving the country's broader problems.
In an interview with The Associated Press, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid also said that beyond attacking the global threat of terrorism with military strength, the United States has done a poor job of applying the economic, political and diplomatic means to fight Islamic extremism in Iraq and elsewhere.
"I don't blame it on any people," Abizaid said Tuesday. "I just blame it on a bureaucratic system that has been unresponsive thus far to the challenges of the 21st century. We need to change that as a matter of national priority."