The White House has published the Initial Assessment Benchmark Report which Congress mandated be written to describe the military, diplomatic, and political progress in Iraq. The President held a press conference this morning to discuss the report, and C-SPAN has the video. This afternoon Tony Snow is holding a bloggers conference call, and I will try to attend. Any questions you’d like me to ask?
From the report:
As the President explained in January, all of these efforts, together with a new diplomatic offensive in the region, are designed to set the conditions for U.S. troops to begin coming home, without risking a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq, sanctuaries for international terrorist networks, or a broader regional conflict that would threaten U.S. national security interests for generations. While all of those conditions have not yet been met, and the new strategy is still in its early stages, there are some encouraging signs that should, over time, point the way to a more normalized and sustainable level of U.S. engagement in Iraq, with a decreasing number of U.S. combat forces increasingly focused on a core set of missions, such as those set out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
For each of the 18 (eighteen) benchmarks, the report provides an assessment, either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. I counted 9 satisfactory, and 9 unsatisfactory with my cursory reading of the report. I can’t see how all 18 will be completed by September, and you can guess what the Democratic party defeatists will do with that.
One more quote from the report:
The increasing concern among Iraqi political leaders that the United States may not have a long-term commitment to Iraq has also served in recent months to reinforce hedging behaviors and made the hardest political bargains even more difficult to close.
The more the Democrats talk about quick withdrawal, the more the Iraqi political hardliners will hold out for a better deal, and the less likely compromise can be achieved, and benchmarks met. It’s the Democratic strategy, and I have to say it seems to be working just fine for them. Heaven help the Iraqi people when Iran becomes the power broker in Iraq between Hezbolla and Al Qeada. Wouldn’t be too good for the U.S. either.
If you’d like to hear the Tony Snow conference call visit the Wizbang Podcast site where you can listen to or download an MP3 of the call. Wizbang’s own Lorrie Bird joined in, along with Jim Geraghty of National Review, Paul Mirengoff of Powerline, Pamela at Atlas Shruggs, Ward Carroll at DefenseTech.org, Bruce McQuain of QandO, Brian Faughnan at the Weekly Standard, Truth Laid Bear, Ben Briar with the Hill, Tom Bluey at RedState.com, and others I could not write down fast enough. Go and listen!