Amidst all the sturm und drang of the Iraq debate, one thing both parties were able to agree on was the need to create a series of "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government to see if we're making progress toward realistic goals. The National Security Network, an underrated newish outfit, is doing us the favor of trying to measure the benchmarks in a series of reports. The first one looked at Iraqi security forces:
Incredibly, it has been 707 days since President Bush first declared that, “As Iraqis Stand Up, We Will Stand Down.” Now, almost two years later, the Administration is still making the training of Iraqi security forces a key component of its escalation plan. Unfortunately, Iraqi security forces are still incapable of providing security. In fact, because of their poor performance and lack of manpower, the President’s Baghdad Security Plan is already far behind schedule. Meanwhile, these forces cannot be trusted to enforce the law fairly. Numerous times, trained Iraqis have turned against American forces or taken part in sectarian violence. Put simply, on this front the Administration is failing to meet its benchmarks for success and there is little sign that progress is likely.
The second one, released today, concerns Debaathification:
In May of 2003, the Bush Administration enacted ill-conceived de-Baathification laws, which alienated the Sunni population, fomented sectarian divisions and established a recruitment pool for insurgents. Repealing the harsh de-Baathification laws is absolutely critical to bringing Sunnis back into the political fold in Iraq and achieving reconciliation. It has been more than a year since President Bush declared progress on this front and yet there is still no agreement. The latest attempt to amend the law was thwarted this spring by Ahmed Chalabi, a former ally of neo-conservatives, who and used his position as head of the de-Baathification Commission to build opposition and block the legislation. With Iraq’s government still in gridlock, progress in the near future appears unlikely.
I'll be eagerly awaiting the remaining reports.