Wednesday, August 8

Good points about Iraq political benchmarks set by US Congress

3:45 PM EDT Update
Lowry's points (see below) are relevant to this news passed along by one of Bill Roggio's readers:

"Just seen a [video] of CNN's interview with Senators Durbin and Casey from Baghdad. They now concede that the surge is making progress.

Not ready to concede defeat, Durbin and Casey assured us that the political process in Iraq has failed.

Inevitably, they reach the same conclusion: pull our troops out now.

Posted by Captain America" August 8, 2007 12:13 PM
* * * * *
Pundita needed a break from war news so I decided to answer a reader's question about the state of American politics. I'm still fiddling with the post so it won't be published until tomorrow morning. In the meantime I came across good points in a July 10 essay by Rich Lowry that shouldn't get lost in the shuffle of bad news about Maliki's government:
[...] The surge has succeeded in reducing sectarian killings in Baghdad and civilian casualties overall, but at the cost of increased U.S. casualties and without the Iraqi legislative accomplishments that were established as "political benchmarks."

Those benchmarks shouldn't be fetishized. The reason that they were considered so important is that they were thought necessary to entice Sunnis away from the insurgency. Instead, the Sunnis have swung our way anyway, in reaction to al-Qaida brutality and to our strength.

By any measure, this is significant political progress -- so significant, in fact, that no one even considered making it a "benchmark" at the beginning of the year. The U.S. political argument over benchmarks is shot through with bad faith anyway. Would the advocates of retreat really have a different position if the Iraqi parliament had managed to pass an oil-revenue-sharing law already? Unlikely.

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