Powell: Iraq ready for departure of US combat forces

In an exclusive interview this morning on "This Week", Gen. Colin Powell told me “Ready or not, it's going to happen, and I think [Iraq] is ready,” for the departure of US combat troops. “There -- there are bombings taking place, but it's nothing like it was two or three years ago,” Powell said. “And it has -- it has not reached a level where the government starts to look like it's going to collapse.”

Powell emphasized the messiness of democracy. “What we're seeing is…an interesting democratic process, where they're trying to figure out who the next prime minister is going to be. We've gone through this right here in this country, as you recall, my friend,” he said to Tapper.

“They'll have to go through this and come up with a government that represents all parts of Iraqi society. And if they do that, and if they build up their army, if they continue to show the effectiveness that their army has shown recently, they should be able to contain this and hold it as we continue our withdrawal,” Powell said.

He emphasized that some U.S. troops will remain to continue to train Iraqi forces and assist them, as need. But, Powell said, the Iraqi army will “have to do whatever fighting is required.”

Iraq, Powell said, is “moving in the right direction, and I think the president is correct to keep it on track and continue with the drawdown.”

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