Iraq's efforts on 15 of 18 benchmarks are "satisfactory" — almost twice of what it determined to be the case a year ago, the White House reports in a new assessment to Congress. The May 2008 report card, obtained by the Associated Press, determines that only two of the benchmarks — enacting and implementing laws to disarm militias and distribute oil revenues — are unsatisfactory.
In the past 12 months, since the White House released its first formal assessment of Iraq's military and political progress, Baghdad politicians have reached several new agreements seen as critical to easing sectarian tensions.
They have passed, for example, legislation that grants amnesty for some prisoners and allows former members of Saddam Hussein's political party to recover lost jobs or pensions. They also determined that provincial elections would be held by Oct. 1.
The Iraqi army has made satisfactory progress on the goal of fairly enforcing the law, while the nation's police force remains plagued by sectarianism, according to the administration assessment.
No doubt the public will likely be throwing up after all the SPIN that this report will receive from each side. Obviously, Democrats will treat this report rather dubiously since the White House prepared it. The Republicans will use this report as further proof that the surge is working and the Democrats were wrong.
One Democrat, Mike McIntyre (D NC), has already stated that the standards for the report are fallacious. He surmised that the benchmarks should have been judged as completed or incomplete. This is a rather dubious standard and in my opinion, moving the political goal posts.
No one set a timetable on completing benchmarks. What everyone wanted to see is tangible and significant progress, and according to the White House, that's what we have seen on 15 of 18 benchmarks.
Everyone can judge for themselves and let the spin begin.