Iraqi progress continues: reconciliation and benchmarks

posted at 8:45 am on July 2, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Iraq continues its progress towards stability with a major hurdle to reconciliation falling as early as next week.  The Sunni parliamentary bloc, Tawafaq Front, will return to the unity government of Nouri al-Maliki as early as next week.  Meanwhile, the Maliki government has succeeded on 15 of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress in 2007, when the Democrats tried to handicap American efforts to help Iraq stand itself up:

Sunni leaders now say the government has done enough to address their core conditions, including passing an amnesty law that has freed thousands of Sunni detainees this year. The leaders said they were also encouraged by the government’s efforts in tackling Shiite militias, especially the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

“We feel that a great deal of them have been fulfilled,” said Salim Abdullah al-Jubori, a spokesmen for the Sunni bloc, referring to the conditions.

If the Sunni bloc returns, it will mark a political victory for Maliki as well achieve a key U.S. policy goal. Sunnis would have a greater voice in a cabinet currently dominated by Shiites and Kurds.

Meanwhile, only two benchmarks have yet to be addressed, according to the latest review:

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.

The Democrats answered this by claiming that more progress would have been made had we pulled out of Iraq.  Carl Levin stated that the Bush administration had “repeatedly missed opportunities to shift this burden to the Iraqis,” but did not explain how the Iraqis could have shouldered that burden until their own security forces were strong enough to do so.  One of the three benchmarks that did not show satisfactory progress was the police forces, which still have sectarian biases and need more training and oversight from the US and Iraqi Army.

We have begun rotating the surge troops out of Iraq already.  By the end of the summer, we will have reduced our footprint to pre-surge levels.  The Iraqi Army, though, has grown remarkably in both size and skill, and as Maliki has shown in Basra, Mosul, Amarah, and Sadr City, they can now fulfill most of the combat-style missions in Iraq.  As they continue to develop and grow, we will gradually take on a support and logistics role rather than a front-line role, as well as concentrate on rebuilding efforts.

That strategy helps secure success, rather than the Levin Dash method of hoping the ladder holds on the last helicopter off of the embassy.  The progress on benchmarks and on political reconciliation shows the wisdom of the Bush administration, Robert Gates, and John McCain in not surrendering and rushing into retreat.  Don’t expect the Democrats to talk much about Iraq under these circumstances.


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in the alternate reality that is the democratic universe, this is just more bad news…

right4life on July 2, 2008 at 8:59 AM

Things have been improving in Iraq for some time now. I just hope when the Sunni’s return to the Parliament, it doesn’t turn into a sectarian fight.

2theright on July 2, 2008 at 9:02 AM

What on earth are you talking about…Harry Reid told us this war was lost a looooooong time ago.. Get with the program please….

twiggman on July 2, 2008 at 9:02 AM

This makes harry Reid sick

jp on July 2, 2008 at 9:05 AM

I can’t wait for the ultimate BHO flip flop when he returns from Iraq.

jimmy the notable on July 2, 2008 at 9:10 AM

I read the other day that this has been 2 months in a row that there have been more casualties in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

Since Afghanistan is the theater that the dems chose to support, why isn’t this news?

Oh, wait, I know the answer to that…

cntrlfrk on July 2, 2008 at 9:11 AM

The Iraqi Army, though, has grown remarkably in both size and skill, and as Maliki has shown in Basra, Mosul, Amarah, and Sadr City, they can now fulfill most of the combat-style missions in Iraq.

An American-trained Iraqi Army aquiring the proficient skills to take on any threat from their “neighbors”. Who’d a thunk it?

While the Post has “dipped” into printing reality, our dear “friends” at the New Yuk Times has shifted to reporting “strengthening Taliban insurgency” in Afghanistan while FAILING to mention al Qeada in the entire article—which should be a cause for dismissal.

Rovin on July 2, 2008 at 9:14 AM

This makes harry Reid sick

jp on July 2, 2008 at 9:05 AM

TOO funny JP !!!!!

Rovin on July 2, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Has NBC decided if they’re still officially calling this a “civil war?”

Reality is a lib’s worst nightmare.

jeff_from_mpls on July 2, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Time for the Dems to strategically redeploy the goalposts.

Verbal Abuse on July 2, 2008 at 9:19 AM

It is not the Iraq progress report BO knows. You are one racist person Ed for bringing up a report that will hurt BO’s chance of being president.

BroncosRock on July 2, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Mainstream Media’s coverage dismal……

From Newsbusters:

“I suspect that this broadcast tonight — and maybe some others on this channel — are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere.”……Brit Hume reporting the Iraqi progress.

Indeed, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned Iraq while on ABC’s World News anchor Charles Gibson read a short update about “increasing dangers for U.S. troops in Afghanistan” since “in the month of June there were 28 American fatalities in Afghanistan, just one less than died in Iraq last month.” CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 was also silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks.

Rovin on July 2, 2008 at 9:33 AM

The Democrats answered this by claiming that more progress would have been made had we pulled out of Iraq.

Always flaunting their ignorance, aren’t they?

We can’t beat Saddam!

Well, ok, we can, but we can’t beat the insurgents!

Oh, well, uh, we can’t train the Iraqi Ar … (sigh)

We can’t reconsile the Iraqi Parli … um … uh …

Hey Dems … “YES WE CAN!”

Tony737 on July 2, 2008 at 9:41 AM

Somehow I suspect that if we had the same amount of SUPPORT from our LEADERS during VIET NAM, MSM and the LIB POLS may not have LOST that war for this COUNTRY. They tried in this conflict, but did not succeed.

pueblo1032 on July 2, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Time for the Dems to strategically redeploy the goalposts. – Verbal

And the Best Comment of the Day Award goes TO …!

Tony737 on July 2, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Ack! Did I spell reconcile with an s ??? Uh, the baby must’ve distracted me, yeah, that’s it!

They tried in this conflict, but did not succeed. – Pueblo

Which makes the mad moonbats even madder, even foamier at the mouth, which makes them even funnier to watch! :-)

Tony737 on July 2, 2008 at 9:51 AM

The Bush-Maliki “Agreement” is up for a vote in the Iraqi parliament this month. Ever hear of it? It’s been reported on the blogs but not the MSM for the most part.

If passed, we can get the job done.

Nelsa on July 2, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Is it just me or is it starting to feel like the domestic battle over Iraq is essentially over? Even if Obama wins, because things are going so well over there, I can’t imagine the political will is going to be there to make any radical changes once he takes over in January. Even these born again “realists” that he has advising him will recognize that when you’ve got a stable situation, you don’t do anything to mess it up. If Obama becomes president with an Iraq that is doing well, they will have every incentive to keep it that way rather than be accused of screwing up a good thing. I know we shouldn’t be popping the champagne corks yet, but I’m starting to feel better about the future of the venture into Iraq than I have in years.

Dudley Smith on July 2, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Also, from the front page photo of Maliki, it appears that he read the story in the headlines the other day about chicks digging guys with stubble.

thirteen28 on July 2, 2008 at 12:05 PM

There’s nothing the U.S. military can build in Iraq that can’t be broken by a few bombs or bullets, Dudley.

As always…victory can be declared when the last American soldier comes home, not before.

alphie on July 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM

Heh. Alphie, our resident liberal troll, won’t be happy until every US troop is in a bodybag.

Yeah, if alphie’s guys had their way, Iran would be running the show in Baghdad, and (dare they dream?) Israel a radioactive wasteland–Think of all those dead Jews! The liberals like alphie would wet their pants with glee over that idea!

Vanceone on July 2, 2008 at 1:46 PM

I suppose the democrats could always say the pressure they brought on the Iraqis did the trick. As well as the generous help of the Iranians.

ThePrez on July 2, 2008 at 3:12 PM

As always…victory can be declared when the last American soldier comes home, not before.

alphie on July 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM

So, I guess that means that we still haven’t achieved victory in Germany and Japan quite yet.

melchitt on July 2, 2008 at 3:45 PM