Slowly but surely the Iraqi government is meeting the benchmarks set for it by a Democrat-controlled Congress. Even though the Democrats intended to use the benchmarks as leverage for forcing an American retreat from Iraq, what some thought was impossible is actually happening, and we're winning. Naturally the Associated Press spins this optimistic step into a negative.
No matter who is elected president in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with one of the most frustrating realities in Iraq: the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates.
Iraq's political and military success is considered vital to U.S. interests, whether troops stay or go. And while the Iraqi government has made measurable progress in recent months, the pace at which it's done so has been achingly slow.
The White House sees the progress in a particularly positive light, declaring in a new assessment to Congress that Iraq's efforts on 15 of 18 benchmarks are "satisfactory"—almost twice of what it determined to be the case a year ago. The May 2008 report card, obtained by the Associated Press, determines that only two of the benchmarks—enacting and implementing laws to disarm militias and distribute oil revenues—are unsatisfactory.
The White House sees, but of course we all know better. Can't they just report good news without hedging and qualification?