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    29 August 2007

    "Surging" Nowhere: September Report Shows Failing Strategy

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    Portions of the much awaited report on Iraqi political progress by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, are beginning to leak out. As is painfully obvious, despite minimal results on the military and security front, the political progress has been a disaster. To remind the reader, President Bush's escalation came with 18 benchmarks in which to measure progress. In July, the White House claimed, in error, that "satisfactory performance" was being achieved in 8 of those 18 benchmarks. I opined in a post earlier this month:
    If you think back, the July "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report" that claimed that "satisfactory performance" on nearly half of the proposed benchmarks was so fundamentally flawed that I doubt the White House can flaw it any more this time around. They set a fake bar, way too high, and now they won't be able to reach past it while still seeming realistic. They may have burned themselves...

    Back in July, this White House spin was promptly debunked as misleading rhetoric.

    As predicted here, the White House spin has fallen flat in the face of pragmatic, apolitical analysis. The GAO's report will conclude that not 8 but only 5 of the benchmarks (or is it only 3?) will be met as a result of the Presidents escalation in Iraq.
    Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush's Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned.

    The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, will report that at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks to measure the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq are unfulfilled ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline for Bush to give a detailed accounting of the situation eight months after he announced the policy, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

    Assuming the surge will continue due to a split Congress, a lack of promising alternatives and a President who has already made up his mind, we'll probably ride this out until the definitive timetable sets in early next year and forces our extraction (the realities surfacing as strain in our military). So instead of strategically assessing and addressing failed policy when we could, the 'stay the course' crowd has set us for withdrawal as a broken force with severely limited resources available for the greater threat: al Qaeda proper and their franchise terrorist outfits that plan and recruit with immunity.

    Fortunately, the smart folks at the Center for American Progress have inked a last resort plan for strategically removing our troops from the Iraqi morass. Not immediately and not in 4 years but in a span of about a year and with a residual force remaining to address the questions that will remain in the northern Iraq and to confront al Qaeda and other terrorists. They warn that our leaders need to begin planning for this now because if the escalation fulfills the White House's hopes and dreams or is another failure, we need to have a plan to get out. (We've witnessed how military campaigns conducted without plans end up.)

    So far I've read the synopsis linked above and have started to make my way through the whole report (.pdf). So far, so good; although I would allow some flexibility with the year time table. Say, to 15 months or so...

    Posted by Geoff

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