Earlier this morning, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) took time out from the rigors of their Iraq War hearings to play a little game of patty-cake over how well the Iraqi government has been meeting their benchmarks. Cornyn asserted - with Crocker's agreement - that the Iraqis had successfully met 12 of the 18 stipulated benchmarks. As it turns out, Crocker was off by nine. In the wrong direction.
According to John Podesta, Ray Takeyh and Lawrence J. Korb, writing for the Washington Post, February 26, 2008 represents the high water mark of benchmark-meeting, with a paltry four out of eighteen figure. And, courtesy of the Democratic Caucus's Senate Journal, every bit of partial success seems to come with an equally nagging caveat:
- The so-called de-Baathification law confuses many Iraqis, and, in the opinion of Michael O'Hanlon, "may do more harm than good."
- The Provincial Powers Law is being oversold as a passed benchmark, but the hurdle will not be cleared until "electoral law must be passed and elections held."
- Petraeus himself admitted less than a month ago that "Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences."
Of course, obfuscating the Iraqis inability to meet these benchmarks has become something of a hobby for the administration. Back in August of 2007, the Government Accountability Office was so worried that the White House would "water down" the pessimistic conclusions of their report on the benchmarks that the draft report was leaked in advance to the Washington Post.