Reality Check

In Washington, we're arguing over non-binding benchmarks and political progress by September. In Baghdad, not so much:

"This is an internal American strife between the Republicans and the Democrats," Sami Al-Askari, an MP from the Dawa Party and close advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, told AFP. "I think there is a misconception in America that if the oil law is enacted, if an amendment to the constitution is made, if the de-Baathification law is amended, the political and security situation will be stable and they will be able to pull out their troops. This is an illusion."

Mahmud Othman, a Kurdish MP and member of the ruling coalition told AFP that he doubted benchmarks would have any impact. "I understand why the US is doing this but the Iraqi government has certain capabilities and it will not be easy to change those capabilities... so I don't think this will change the situation on the ground."

So we either have to stay for a long-term colonial occupation, or get out. The Maliki government does not have the power to make any progress. And Petraeus has assured us that there is no military soution.