Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, testified today before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on “Iraq: Trends and Recent Security Developments.” 

“The current conversation in Washington badly distorts what is happening in Iraq and what our options are. As it has from the very beginning, U.S. strategy has more to do with political needs in Washington than with realities on the ground—to our continuing confusion and detriment.”

Mathews offers five key considerations for a fresh approach to the debate on Iraq:

  • The premise of our current strategy—that if violence is reduced, a political solution will follow—is false. What is underway today in Iraq is a natural and inevitable struggle for power. The American presence delays what will eventually happen anyway.
  • The United States has been pursuing the same political goal since 2004 without success.  The present description of the needed next steps as mundane and achievable “benchmarks” is a self-deluding fantasy on our part.
  • A change in political strategy in Iraq and a shift in political attention and economic and military priorities across the region is needed to redefine possible outcomes in Iraq.  Analysis of options must recognize—as it generally does not today—that a significant change in U.S. policy will change the potential for regional cooperation.
  • Assertions being made regarding the implications over the withdrawal of U.S. troops lack significant evidence.  Because the choice we face is among bad options, it is easy to argue against any change in course.  While uncertainties are immense, it is therefore imperative to examine such claims with as much care and knowledge as we can command. 
  • Congress needs to urgently address and end the dangerous charade that has been underway between it and the administration regarding whether the U.S. government is currently planning a permanent presence in Iraq.


To read Dr. Mathews’ prepared testimony, go to
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To request an interview with Dr. Mathews, please contact Trent Perrotto, 202/939-2372, or Jessica Jennings 202/939-2265,

Biographical Information

Jessica Tuchman Mathews was appointed president of the Endowment in 1997. Her career includes senior positions in the White House, the State Department, the House of Representatives, the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Resources Institute, and the Washington Post.

Dr. Mathews is a director of Somalogic Inc. and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, The Century Foundation, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. She has previously served on the boards of the Brookings Institution, Radcliffe College, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Surface Transportation Policy Project, and the Joyce Foundation, among others.

More information can be found at:

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The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.  The Endowment has added operations in Beijing, Beirut, and Brussels to its longstanding offices in Washington and Moscow as part of its transformation into the first global think tank.