Frederick W. Kagan at The Weekly Standard reports Progress, Actually
The last time General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker reported to Congress on the state of the Iraq war, "benchmarks" were all the rage. Congress had established 18 criteria in early 2007 both to pressure the Iraqis and to keep score on their progress. And in September, Congress faulted the Iraqi government for failing to meet many of those measures. Concocting a checklist of laws and actions that would lead to national reconciliation in Iraq was always a fool's errand and misunderstood the complexity of the situation. But having laid down this marker, Congress would want to hear an update, surely. Not so. The word "benchmarks" was scarcely heard last week when Petraeus and Crocker reappeared before Congress. Crocker testified that the Iraqis have actually met about two-thirds of the benchmarks, including four or five of the six key legislative benchmarks and all of the benchmarks measuring their contribution to their own security. In reply, the congressmen who insisted on legislating these benchmarks now say benchmarks are a poor way to measure progress in Iraq.