Bush abandons benchmarks for Iraq

President George W. Bush on Saturday praised what he called “progress and reconciliation” achieved in some Iraqi communities, but pointedly avoided using US government-approved benchmarks in assessing the situation in the country.

“Americans can be encouraged by the progress and reconciliation that are taking place at the local level,” Bush said in his weekly radio address that came less than a month ahead of a crucial review of US military operations Iraq.

The top US military commander in the country, General David Petraeus, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are scheduled to report to Congress by mid-September on whether efforts to halt sectarian violence and return Iraq to viable self-governance were bearing fruit.

In a likely preview of the account, the president spent much of his address describing what he called “political gains” made by various Iraqi communities.

He pointed out that in Anbar province, local sheikhs had joined with US forces to drive terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda out of Ramadi and other cities.

In the overwhelmingly Shiite province of Muthanna, the president went on to note, the local council held a public meeting, while six banks had been reopened in the city of Baqubah, in Diyala province.

The address also showcased the decision by officials in Ninewa province to establish a commission to investigate corruption.

Bush acknowledged that “political progress at the national level had not matched the pace of progress at the local level,” and benchmarks adopted by the US government as a standard for assessing progress in Iraq had largely remained unmet.

But he insisted that “in a democracy, over time national politics reflects local realities” and “as reconciliation occurs in local communities across Iraq, it will help create the conditions for reconciliation in Baghdad as well.”

The 18 benchmarks, adopted earlier this year, call, however, for sustainable progress in national reconciliation and mending the country’s broken economy as a condition for continued US support.

They include holding provincial elections to ensure greater Sunnis participation in local governments in the Shiite-dominated south and Kurdish-dominated north as well as passage of an oil revenue-sharing law.

The benchmarks also call a reversal of de-Baathification laws to allow former military officers to serve in the new army, amending the Iraqi constitution in the hope of strengthening the unity of the state, and for more equitable distribution of reconstruction aid.

In a report submitted to Congress last month, the White House said satisfactory progress had been achieved only on eight of the 18 benchmarks.

Bush did not change this assessment but promised to continue to “urge” the Iraqi leaders to meet the goals.

While the address did not give any indication the administration planned a military disengagement, The New York Times reported Saturday that next month, Bush intended to announce plans for gradual troop reductions from Iraq, but at levels far short of those sought by his congressional critics.

The White House would argue that this year’s troop increase had succeeded on several levels in providing more security, the report said.

At the same time, the administration will argue that vital US interests in Iraq require a sustained commitment of US forces, said the paper.

Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is again running for president this year, urged fellow congressional Democrats to take decisive action and cut off funding for the Iraq war.

“The Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate must finally live up to their responsibility and the promise they made to voters last year to end this war,” Kucinich told an annual convention of Veterans for Peace in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday.


  1. Unicorn


    Yes, Abdul of Ky (or is that KY), it woiuld be very interesting to hear more of your experienced background. Surely, there are things you could tell us but have not so far. As we all know, we need all the experienced and POSITIVE help we can get to get out of this Bush-personalized “payback” war and to say nothing of Halliburton and the oil prospects.

    Do you have any experience with any of those subjects?

  2. Abdul of the Kyber Pass

    Sorry, but by all standards, the troop surge is working.

    BTW, it took the US twelve years to go from a declaration of independence to a working constitutional government. A strong federalist government wasn’t secure until 77 years later following the end of our own civil war. The Union was saved and the slaves were freed by a Republican President, Abe Lincoln. The Democrats, in 1864, wanted to sign a treaty with the South allowing them to maintain slavery and a large measure of sovereignty. We can all agree that America is a better place because the Democratic cut-and-run strategy was defeated at the polls.

    I give you this because I don’t think that many of you guys have ever read any history books. You dang sure look determined to repeat the mistakes of the past.

  3. Helen Rainier

    Abdul of Ky,

    I will accept your posted challenge: “I wonder if any of the previous posters have ever:

    1. served in the military?
    2. run a business?
    3. organized anything larger than a closet?

    I doubt they have. One of the marks of effective leadership is being able to adapt to changes in the market/battlefield/environment.

    At first the Left whined that the President refused to adapt to changing circumstances. And now that he has altered some of his plan, they whine that he has changed it. I don’t believe that having a bad memory is required to be a Leftist, but apparently it does help.”

    1. I have served in the US Army — six years on Active Duty (Regular Army/Army Reserve) and several years in the drilling Reserve in several duty positions ultimately ending up as a First Sergeant.

    2. I have run a business as an office administrator.

    3. I have organized and designed all of the office forms, protocols, and procedures for “start-up” businesses.

    My initial military training and background was as an intelligence analyst/Order of Battle analyst and I have been involved in operational planning at a level that was answerable to the JCS for actual deployment purposes (I cannot say more than that — it may still be classified).

    Bush has not, effectively, changed a damned thing except for his rhetoric. Fundamentally, there have been no changes in the overall strategy except to add more troops. Let’s be honest here: What has all of this shown the world? That the world’s alleged most “powerful military” can’t even successfully complete a military mission against an “enemy” that effectively had NO military force whatsoever. That was evident after Gulf One. Instead, the only thing that is happening with regard to Iraq is that our troop strength has deteriorated and we have more and more casualties — both physically and mentally. You simply cannot keep short-rotating these military units into this type of environment without sapping them of everything and that is exactly what is happening.

    This is also having a detrimental home on our own internal security. First responders — such as local law enforcement, local medical personnel, are being depleted to shore up efforts in Iraq. Many of these folks are either in the Reserve Forces or the National Guard. The National Guards, which are legally assets of the state to which they are assigned, who would normally respond to localized disasters are unable. Their equipment and personnel levels are drastically reduced. Their equipment is being deployed to Iraq and left in theater when the troops rotate out. What do you think happens when there is a natural disaster in their state that needs resolution? They can’t do it.

    Afghanistan — is in exactly the same shape, if not worse than when we first went in there. There are record crops of opium poppies, the Taliban is resurgent, and al Qaeda is on the uprise again.

    Pray tell me, what is it that Bush is doing that is so damned good and shows a record of winning or of victory? Not a damned thing. When you have a life-long loser trying to do something he knows nothing about, you are doomed to failure — particularly when that endeavor is based on nothing but a pack of crazy, provable lies.

    I used to recommend the military to young people who asked me if I would recommend. Sadly, I can no longer do that. Not while these crazy and insane bastards are squatting in the White House trying to pretend they are GI Joes (who didn’t have the balls to do their part when it was their turn to do so) when in fact, they are not even girly men in drag.

    They are dangerous, delusional, stupid fools who care not one whit about this country or its Constitution — which they took an oath to uphold and defend.

    A US Army Veteran
    Vietnam Era
    “Not right nor left — just down the middle.”

  4. JudyB

    Abdul of Ky..
    You may know your history and for that I give you kudos….
    but it’s time for you to take your blinders off and take a look at what been happening in the last decade! Bush “I Am The Decider” has not only lied to Congress but has grossly abused his presidential powers, ignored our constitution, and created outrageous Federal debts and deficits. It is my personal opinion (one shared by millions) That we are losing this failed oil war..a war that was based in lies and greed. Also for your information, the U.S. Military has become more political than in any other time in history and there is more soldier of fortune activiity in the war arena than ever! Don’t think I am a leftist, nor a liberal just because I am using my common sense and healthy brain to form opinions and make my judgements!!!

  5. SEAL

    Abdul of the Ky: It would be a real thrill if you would provide all of us the benefit of your vast military experience. From your comments it is obvious you have spent many years involved with military strategy and planning at the command level.

    I have a little bit of experience but I’m always seeking to expand my knowledge and I’m sure I could learn a lot from one with your background. It’s obvious that your experience is second only to the presidents.

    Tell me, does the president consult with you? Just how involved are you? What can you tell us without violating security? Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. Sandra Price

    Nobody should ever hold any president’s feet to the fire for any reason. It might make them look weak.

    heh, heh, heh

  7. gene

    “Americans can be encouraged” is this guy crazy or what?
    This puke face SOB has got to be the biggest looser that ever lived and he’s our “Commander in idiot”.

    Its a good thing (I guess) that most Americans are brain dead zombies or we could actually have a real revolt to participate in.

  8. JudyB

    The dolt got it wrong again!! He has more nerve than Dick Tracy to even think we could be encouraged, far from it, I for one, am outraged and disgusted by the continuing loss of lives, injured bodies and tremendous expenses. Why in the hell does anyone pay any attention to what he says anyway??? He can’t be trusted to tell the truth and he don’t know his ass from a hole in the ground!!!

  9. Abdul of the Kyber Pass

    I wonder if any of the previous posters have ever:

    1. served in the military?
    2. run a business?
    3. organized anything larger than a closet?

    I doubt they have. One of the marks of effective leadership is being able to adapt to changes in the market/battlefield/environment.

    At first the Left whined that the President refused to adapt to changing circumstances. And now that he has altered some of his plan, they whine that he has changed it. I don’t believe that having a bad memory is required to be a Leftist, but apparently it does help.

  10. acf

    He’s doing what he usually does when he’s losing. Co-opt the opposition’s position and declare victory. In this case, simply ignore the benchmarks that are not being achieved, and say what a swell job they are doing. Just wait until he claims victory for the failure of the troop increase.