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Saturday, September 01, 2007

International Herald Tribune Editorial - More realism, less spin

International Herald Tribune Editorial - More realism, less spin
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: August 31, 2007

A new report from the U.S. Congress' investigative arm provides a powerful fresh dose of nonpartisan realism about Iraq. With a crucial debate on Iraq set for next month, the report should be read by members of Congress who may be wavering over withdrawing American troops.

The Government Accountability Office, in a draft assessment reported Thursday, determined that Iraq has failed to meet 15 out of 18 benchmarks for political and military progress mandated by Congress. Laws on constitutional reform, oil and permitting former Baathists back into the government have not been enacted. Among other failings, there has been unsatisfactory progress toward deploying three Iraqi brigades in Baghdad and reducing the level of sectarian violence.

Earlier this year, President George W. Bush ordered a massive buildup of American troops in Iraq in a desperate attempt to salvage his failed strategy and stave off congressional moves to bring the forces home. He argued that he was buying a period of relative calm for Iraqi politicians to achieve national reconciliation.

The top American officials in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, are to present their assessments at congressional hearings in mid-September. Their findings, and a White House report due Sept. 15, are seen as a potential trigger for a change in Iraq strategy. Two things, however, are already clear. Iraq's leaders have neither the intention nor the ability to take advantage of calm, relative or otherwise. And a change in strategy seems the farthest thing from Bush's mind.

Bush has invoked Vietnam to argue against leaving Iraq. That argument is specious, but there is a chilling similarity between the two U.S. foreign policy disasters. In Vietnam, as in Iraq, American presidents and military leaders went to great lengths to pretend that victory was at hand when nothing could be farther from the truth.


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