The White House’s status report on Iraq “benchmarks” is the big subject of the day. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, check out Ilan Goldenberg’s “fact check” of the report at National Security Network, which finds in sum that “some benchmarks claimed as ‘satisfactory’ only demonstrate minimal progress, not achievement. Others have been achieved on the surface, but fail to accomplish the overall purpose of the specific measurement.”
Not wonky enough? O.K., Noah Shachtman at Wired magazine has reprinted an even more comprehensive assessment of the report distributed by the estimable Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who feels that “the Iraqi government has not really met the Bush administration’s benchmarks in any major area.”
Or, if you have a job or a life or a family or anything else to do this afternoon, plenty of other bloggers are happy to give you opinion unburdened by such attention to facts.
“While we can troop surge to the cows come home, the fact is that when the people of Iraq turn on Al Qaeda - such as in Anbar, we will see rapid success,” insists Macranger at Macsmind: “The long and the short is that this report DOES show progress. General Petraeus and the troops have only been on the ground a few months and from all accounts making significant progress.”
The blogger at Down With Tyranny disrespectfully disagrees: “Bush’s fantasyland report claims progress in 8 of 18 benchmarks Congress set. Bush claims the Iraqi constitution is being revised, minority rights are being protected in the legislature, semi-autonomous governing regions are being set up, Iraqi political and economic support for military operations to secure Baghdad neighborhoods …. Before I go into the absurdity of all these preposterous claims, even Bush agrees that other benchmarks have resulted in dismal failure.”
Over at Prairie Weather, the emphasis on Iraq itself is deemed the problem: “Where Al Qaeda is making itself felt is in its old stamping ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While Bush is maintaining a tenacious hold on a failing policy in Iraq, the reality of failure in Afghanistan is much more dangerous to the U.S. Bush is using an exhausted American military effort in Iraq to bolster his political position even as he cripples our military’s ability to respond to the growing power of the real Al Qaeda.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has his own benchmark update, saying that we must withdraw from Iraq and “dedicate our resources and attention to Al Qaeda and the real threat it poses.”
This prompts some questions from the Gateway Pundit:
“Umm.. What about those 12,000 Al Qaeda members operating in Iraq, Harry? What about the 4,000 Iraqis killed or wounded by Al Qaeda in the last 6 months, Harry?”
Those questions, of course, are likely to go unanswered — as opposed to those raised by the administration’s benchmark scorecard, which will, unfortunately, be answered in terms of human lives.