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Iraq Timeline: The Broken Record on “the Next Few Months”

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The Bush administration as well as supporters and some critics of the Bush Iraq strategy have told Americans time and again during the past four years that the "next few months" in Iraq will be the "decisive, critical period" of the war—the one in which Iraq’s warring factions will compromise to share power; in which the bloody civil war among sectarian groups will ease into peace; and in which Iraq’s brutal violence will decline.

The implication has always been that U.S. military forces just need to hold on a little while longer for things to get better. They’ve been holding on a little while longer for more than four years—longer than it took the United States to win World War II.

The timeline below catalogues the broken record we’ve been hearing from our leaders.

Click and drag anywhere on the timeline to scan backwards in time all the way to the beginning of the war in spring 2003. Click on the quotes for more information on the speaker and his or her statement.


The United States has no good options given the strategic and tactical mistakes made in Iraq since 2002, but simply staying the course with an indefinite military presence is not advancing U.S. interests. Instead, the United States must reset its strategy by looking beyond the deteriorating situation in Iraq in order to counter the threat from global terrorist groups and ensure stability in the entire Middle East and Gulf region.

For more on this topic:

  • Read "Strategic Reset," the Center for American Progress’s plan for reclaiming control of U.S. security in the Middle East.
  • To learn about "Friedman Units," the concept on which this timeline was based, click here.


To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

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Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
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Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
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Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
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Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or