Partial Progress Towards Progress Towards Progress

The Government Accountability Office report was released today, and it quickly became evident where the White House pressured for change from the original version leaked to the Washington Post.

In last week's Washington Post story, it was reported that the GAO study would say that Iraqis have failed to meet 15 of 18 benchmarks. In today's report, the GAO sticks with only three benchmarks met, but now has a new grade for benchmarks: "Partially met."

I want to make clear, I think the GAO report is a strong and sobering look at Iraq, and far more truthful than what the White House has been shoveling to the American people for years. But, I have to question what this "partial" grade is.

For instance, one benchmark is "Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis." Originally marked as unmet, it's now marked as "partially met," because, "Funds allocated, but unlikely to be fully spent."


Sooooo, wouldn't that mean the benchmark is not met? Call me crazy, but sounds like you either meet benchmarks or don't, and this is one that's not been met.

So, let's be clear here. As the Washington Post originally reported, only three benchmarks have been met. Fifteen have not. That Iraqis are so far flunking here is just more evidence that the surge has not worked, and that there is no military solution to this problem. Troops can't make Iraqis allocate and spend $10 billion, or any of the other things listed in the benchmarks. As we've said since the start of, troops can't bring the parties together to solve these internal Iraqi problems that are keeping the country from reconciliation.

Only diplomats can do that. Only those who understand Iraqi politics can help bring the parties together. And only the Iraqis can settle their own affairs, and so far, they haven't stepped up to do so, while our troops toil in the crosshairs of RPGs and AK's. No amount of cockamamie "partially met" grades will change that.