On the 18 Congressional benchmarks concerning the Iraqi Government:
1. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward forming a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) and then completing the constitutional review.
2. The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’athification reform.
3. The current status is unsatisfactory, but it is too early to tell whether the Government of Iraq will enact and implement legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources to all Iraqis.
4. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.
5. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Commission. The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing a provincial elections law. The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing provincial council authorities. The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward establishing a date for provincial elections.
6. The prerequisites for a successful general amnesty are not present; however, in the current security environment, it is not clear that such action should be a near-term Iraqi goal.
7. The prerequisites for a successful militia disarmament program are not present.
8. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.
9. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.
10. The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. Commanders without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
11. The Government of Iraq has not at this time made satisfactory progress in ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law; however, there has been significant progress in achieving increased even-handedness through the use of coalition partnering and embedded-transition teams with Iraqi Security Force units.
12. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress in ensuring the Baghdad Security Plan does not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliations.
13. The Government of Iraq ‑‑ with substantial Coalition assistance ‑‑ has made satisfactory progress toward reducing sectarian violence but has shown unsatisfactory progress towards eliminating militia control of local security.
14. The Government of Iraq -- with substantial Coalition assistance -- has made satisfactory progress toward establishing the planned JSSs (Joint Security Stations) in Baghdad.
15. The Iraqi Government has made unsatisfactory progress toward increasing the number of Iraqi Security Forces units capable of operating independently.
16. The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.
17. The Iraqi Government is making satisfactory progress in allocating funds to ministries and provinces, but even if the full $10 billion capital budget is allocated, spending units will not be able to spend all these funds by the end of 2007.
18. The Government of Iraq has made unsatisfactory progress in ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the ISF (Iraqi Security Force).
The score is 8 satisfactories, 1 split and 9 unsatisfactories. There is only a very small chance that any 'satisfactory' ratings will slip into the 'unsatisfactory' column prior to September 15 and a very good chance that items 2,3,5,10,11,15 and 18 can be moved to the 'satisfactory' column by the 15th, leaving only items 6 and 7 in the unsatisfactory column.
This potential for success provides some explanation for the histrionics occuring in the Senate at the moment. The Copperheads have staked their fortunes on defeat, just as they did in 1863-1864. They have nothing to show for their first seven months in the majority, other than the lowest approval rating attained by any Congress in the last 34 years and they are desperately trying to establish the defeat narrative prior to heading off for the summer break in the hope that the media will sustain them until Gen. Petraeus grabs the spotlight in September.
Bill Roggio and Michael Yon continue to provide an alternative view to that of the Copperhead press and this TIME report concerning Gen. Pace's view is a small crack in the MSM's defeatist monolith.
There is no question that US forces will begin to withdraw from Iraq next spring. The Iraqis continue to increase both the quantity and quality of their security forces and they have the income stream to maintain force levels until the internal threat is subdued. The key to Iraq's immediate future lies in passage and implementation of the oil revenue act. We might hope that the Iraqis would fight for freedom but we can rest assured that they (at least the sheiks) will fight for their share of a revenue stream. The present and immediate past proves that point.
UPDATE: Another Voice From the Field