A very low "return on success"

Fifty-eight days + 162 dead American soldiers = "satisfactory progress" on just one more benchmark.

By Tim Grieve
Published September 14, 2007 4:26PM (UTC)
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For all of the president's talk of "success" Thursday night, a new White House progress report on Iraq shows that little has changed since the last White House progress report on Iraq. In July, the White House said that the Iraqis were making "satisfactory progress" on eight of 18 benchmarks they've agreed to meet. In the new report, due out later today, the White House will say that the Iraqis are making "satisfactory progress" on nine of 18 benchmarks.

The Government Accountability Office says the Iraqis have "met" just three of the 18.


The benchmark that goes from "unsatisfactory progress" to "satisfactory progress" in the new White House report? That would be the one that requires Iraqis to be "enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba'athifaction reform." Does that mean that the Iraqis have either enacted or implemented such legislation? Well, no. But the administration says an Aug. 26 commitment to power sharing among Iraqi leaders is an "encouraging" sign.

Shouldn't we find this all a little discouraging? Not according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "It has only been 58 days since the last assessment of July 15," Perino said Thursday.

By our math, those 58 days have claimed the lives of approximately 162 American soldiers in Iraq. But maybe we shouldn't have expected that the Iraqis would do too much in return. After all, for roughly 34 of those 58 days, the Iraqi parliament was on vacation.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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