Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 8, 2008 / 3 Nissan 5768

Beyond ‘Benchmarks’

By Rich Lowry


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even in the age of instant communication, it takes three months or more for developments in Iraq to have any impact on the U.S. political debate. The war is like a distant star whose light we only see well after the fact.


So Democrats still warn that we'll never be able to police a sectarian civil war, even after violence has significantly declined in Iraq — because we have successfully policed a sectarian civil war. Some critics of the war have seamlessly passed from lamenting the unstoppability of the Iraqi civil war to warning that the rise of Sunni security volunteers could be a harbinger of ... a civil war.


The outdated anti-war sound bite of the moment is that the surge has failed because the Iraqi government hasn't met 18 benchmarks set out for it by Congress last year. It is routinely asserted that only a handful of the benchmarks have been met. In Newsweek in March, columnist Fareed Zakaria darkly noted that a few newly passed laws "add up to only three or four of the 18 benchmarks."


The benchmarks are much cited, but apparently little read. Of the 18, seven have to do with supporting the surge and the effort to establish security in Baghdad: things like providing three brigades to support operations in the city; establishing joint security stations with U.S. forces in neighborhoods; and reducing sectarian violence and eliminating militia control of local security.


By any standard, almost all these security benchmarks have been met. They were formulated at a time when the Iraqi government's will to secure Baghdad was in question. Forget three brigades — as Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute points out, soon enough the Iraqis will have three divisions in and around Baghdad. The neutralization of militias has been more problematic, but now Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has declared himself against the most dangerous Shia militia, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.


The highest-profile benchmarks are the seven legislative ones. Four of the key ones have been passed: a law undoing the excesses of de-Baathification; a provision granting amnesty to former insurgents; legislation allowing the formation of semiautonomous regions; and measures setting out provincial powers and a date for provincial elections. Another important one, a hydrocarbons law, is stalled, but the passage of a budget sharing oil revenues around the country serves some of the same function.


The balance of the other benchmarks has to do with the performance of the Iraqi government and protecting minority rights. They are harder to evaluate. Of course, all the grading is somewhat subjective, but roughly 12 of the 18 benchmarks have been met (and there's been movement on the others), which makes a much less seductive anti-war talking point. As the reality on the benchmarks slowly sinks in, opponents of the war will surely move on to something else — probably the war's cost.


Needless to say, if a benchmark has been met, it doesn't necessarily mean the underlying law is wise or will be effective. The war's critics argue that, in its fine print, the new de-Baathification law may exclude as many Sunnis from government as the original, offending law. They're right. Which is why it was always foolish to try to judge the progress of a nascent, violence-plagued democracy by a crude checklist.


Already, there has been a shifting of goal posts. Zakaria warned that some of the new laws passed only "after months of intense wrangling." Horrors! What was so remarkable about the Feb. 13 passage of a package including a budget, provincial powers law and amnesty provision wasn't the intensity of the wrangling but the cross-ethnic and —sectarian logrolling that produced a grand compromise unlocking the stuck wheels of the Iraqi parliament.


Logrolling, alas, is not one of the benchmarks. The last time Gen. David Petraeus came to Washington, he heralded tentative but widely discounted security gains. Now he brings news of tentative but widely discounted political progress. We'll know he's had an impact when the benchmarks fade away from anti-war discourse.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Rich Lowry Archives

© 2008 King Features Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles