Remember the “benchmarks”? To the Democrats last September, they were the see-all, end-all measure of progress in Iraq. Now they are all but forgotten, but the White House is still tracking them, and report that nearly all have satisfactory progress:
The White House sees the progress in a particularly positive light, declaring in a new assessment to Congress that Iraq’s efforts on 15 of 18 benchmarks are “satisfactory”—almost twice of what it determined to be the case a year ago. 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. . .
In the May progress report, one benchmark was deemed to have brought mixed results. 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.
Amusingly, the Associated Press actually puts a negative spin on this:
No matter who is elected president in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with one of the most frustrating realities in Iraq: the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates.
Iraq’s political and military success is considered vital to U.S. interests, whether troops stay or go. And while the Iraqi government has made measurable progress in recent months, the pace at which it’s done so has been achingly slow.
ASIDE: The idea of grading a democratic country’s legislature pass/fail on satisfying various political objective was always a little bit nutty. How many benchmarks do you think our own Congress has met in the last year.