By Kristina Wong - 08/06/14 08:17 AM EDT
Paul Wolfowitz, a former senior George W. Bush administration official and one of the chief Iraq War architects, said on Tuesday that the U.S. "won" the war in Iraq.
When asked his thoughts about the current situation in Iraq and whether the war was a mistake, Wolfowitz replied, "We have won it — in 2009."
The Bush administration’s troop surge in Iraq in 2007 and a moderate Sunni movement against al Qaeda extremists helped quell sectarian violence throughout the country. The U.S. began to draw down combat troops in 2009.
The U.S. planned to leave some troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi forces after the combat mission ended in 2011, but those forces withdrew after the Obama administration and the Iraqi government were not able to sign a bilateral security agreement that would have granted U.S. troops immunity.
Iraq is now facing a terrorist insurgency from a Sunni extremist group, and critics blame the Obama administration for not working hard enough to secure an agreement.
"I think we could have had one if we wanted it," Wolfowitz said of the agreement.
The former deputy Defense secretary played a large role in supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, on the premise that its leader, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction in violation of international law.
Wolfowitz made the remarks at a roundtable gathering with African leaders and journalists during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington this week.